From £46,810
Broadly more capable than its predecessor, although, to these eyes, less stylish

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz CLS

Does the Mercedes CLS lead the four-door coupé pack?

Matt Prior
5 January 2011
Facelifted Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI

What is it?

When the first-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS was released in 2004, it had things more or less its own way. There wasn't exactly a plethora of four-door coupés for it to argue against.

You might argue there aren't any four-door coupés around now, either. But this newly muscularised (at the expense of some of its elegance) second-generation CLS does at least have some proper, direct competitors. There's Audi's A7 (which, to my eyes, now outdoes the latest CLS in the sleek stakes) and the BMW 5-series GT (which doesn't but, bless it, is having a go).

See pics of the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI in action

Our test CLS was a left-hooker, briefly visiting the UK for a head-to-head test against an A7 to be screened on these pages in a couple of weeks' time. Previously, we've been impressed with the CLS abroad, so the pertinent question is: how does it translate to British roads?

What’s it like?

The CLS feels keener, flatter and sharper than the E-class, which, given that it's notionally a more dynamic version of that car in all senses, is the way it ought to be.

Mercedes has made a big play of the new electric power steering system on the CLS (its first). It's smooth, accurate and well weighted, albeit fairly devoid of feel, like most systems of its kind. There were some slightly inelegant buttons on the steering wheel of our test car, too.

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Driven this week

Driving a left-hooker in the UK seldom flatters a car's ride because you sit over the worst parts of the road. Our CLS, which had standard coil springs rather than the optional air springs, was generally good, but not without an occasional thump over bigger imperfections. The dynamism enhancements have not come without a small penalty, but it's far from one you'd complain about too vigorously.

Nor is there much cause to complaint about the drivetrain. The 350 CDI V6 diesel (actually a 3.0) is smooth and exceptionally quiet and uses the ratios of its seven-speed auto intelligently. It is, however, slightly reluctant to kick down in start-up E mode and is preferable in S.

Should I buy one?

All told, the CLS is still an impressive car – although certainly not one that's going to have things all its own way any more.

Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI

Price: £49,988; Top speed: 155mph (limited); 0-62mph: 6.2sec; Economy: 47.1mpg (combined); CO2: 159g/km; Kerb weight: 1740kg; Engine: V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power: 261bhp at 3800rpm; Torque: 457lb ft at 1600-2400rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd auto

Join the debate


12 January 2011

Looks stunning, and the best interior Merc have done for years

12 January 2011

Its a Minger! the old car was so svelte i still desperately want one. But not this.

12 January 2011

The only function of this thing is to try to tempt the local spivs out of their Range Rover Sports.

12 January 2011

I'm going to spain to drive this, the c-coupe and new slk in a couple of weeks, can't wait!

12 January 2011

The original CLS was a bit like the original TT, a class leading design with focus and purity. In both cases the manufacturers have updated their designs and added their corporate flairs so that neither car has the purity of design the originals had.

Undoubtedly though, dynamically and technically this is a superior vehicle and I must admit, it's a nice interior.

12 January 2011

I think it looks much better, I always liked the old design but thought it looked a bit dumpy from the rear and the front lights weren't that nice. However, IMO the new one doesn't look like a coupe and the old one did...

12 January 2011

[quote julianphillips]I always liked the old design but thought it looked a bit dumpy from the rear [/quote]

It's amazing how the original design split opinion; I thought it was hideous, especially the weird droopy rear end. IMO, the new one is better proportioned but is no looker - all that fussiness around the rear wheel arches - Mercedes must get over this obsession.

12 January 2011

Despicably ugly, like everything that comes out of Stuttgart since roughly 2008.
And after the elegance of the previous model a huge disappointment. This car is supposed to sell because people prefer its looks to the regular taxi E. And even if the current taxi-E is butt-ugly, I cannot imagine any-one prefering this CLS.
Sadly, 'cause I would have considered it for my next wheels.

12 January 2011

Get one - they are cheap enough now! My wife had a CLS 55 and I must admit there was a certain sense of 'occasion' when driving it or more accurately listening to it!

12 January 2011

[quote ischiaragazzo]Get one - they are cheap enough now![/quote]

Yep, huge discounts as you'd expect off last few prev-gen models if dealers haven't pre registered them all by now.


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