The sophistication of the CLS’s drivetrain gives pleasing performance and economy figures

What is it?

The Mercedes CLS 350 BlueEfficiency is the most efficient of the petrol versions of the new CLS saloon, or four-door coupe, as you might prefer to call it.

The new look brings a welcome muscularity to the CLS, without destroying the elegance of the original concept, and there’s plenty of space inside for four people and their luggage.

What’s it like?

The most impressive feature of our test car was the Eco-mode stop/start drivetrain, unusual in an automatic, which shut down and fired up the 3.5-litre V6 incredibly quickly and smoothly. In the time it took to swap your foot from the brake to the accelerator, the engine had spun up and was already providing torque to start pulling away.

It doesn’t ride quite as well as the equivalent E-class, but the chassis feels more focused and bump absorption is still very good on the 18-inch wheels.

The steering is one of the better electrical systems, though the weighting lacks consistency across the first quarter turn in each direction, compared with the best hydraulic systems.

Should I buy one?

At a few pounds short of £50,000, the CLS 350 BlueEfficiency has a slight price premium over its most obvious competitor, the Audi A7.

The cars are very equally matched and most buyers would probably make the decision between the two based on the appeal of their looks and the presence of various technologies or options - Quattro drivetrain or Distronic safety system, for example.

It’s worth pointing out that the sophistication of the CLS’s drivetrain meant that we managed an average of 31.7mpg over 300 miles of mixed town and country driving, which is impressive for any petrol automatic saloon, let alone one that can do 0-60mph in well under seven seconds.

Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 BlueEfficiency

Price £49,988; Top speed 155mph (limited); 0-62mph 6.1sec; Economy 41.5mpg; CO2 159g/km; Kerb weight 1735kg; Engine V6, 3498cc, petrol; Power 302bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 273lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd auto

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Anonymous 5 April 2011

Re: Mercedes CLS 350

@bomb Yes. It doesn't matter how many photos you see, they always look different in the metal.

bomb wrote:

I would have agreed with you based purely on pictures but I saw one early this morning walking the dog and thought it looked stunning.

Anonymous 5 April 2011

Re: Mercedes CLS 350

@ischiaragazzo Yes. It's a reminder that aerodynamics play an increasingly significant role as you get faster. The Fiat 500 has a Cd of 0.325 and the CLS 350 has a Cd of 0.27. Apparently the 350 CDI has a Cd of 0.26, slightly less than the petrol, although without having them alongside each other it's not clear why.

blue62 5 April 2011

Re: Mercedes CLS 350

bomb wrote:
I always thought cars styled for the Chinese market were ultra conservative?

To be fair that's just a guess, but I would imagine that the Chinese market will become less 'conservative' as their appetite for all things material develops. I much prefer the styling of the original CLS, although I haven't studied one in the flesh yet.