What is it?
The six-cylinder versions of the second-generation Mercedes CLS are so impressive on so many levels that you might be inclined to overlook the entry-level four-cylinder CLS 250 CDI. But you’d be making a big mistake.
What's it like?
Powered by a twin-turbo 2.1-litre diesel engine with 201bhp and a thumping 369lb ft of torque, the CLS 250 CDI not only has more than adequate performance but also gives usefully lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than any of its six-pot siblings. The differences aren’t huge, it has to be said, but the prospect of 54.3mpg and just 135g/km of CO2 are not to be sneezed at.
The four-pot diesel may be grumbly at low speeds, but it’s more refined in the CLS than any other Merc in which we’ve tried it, and in any case, everything becomes silky and hushed as soon as you get above 30mph, aided by a very smooth seven-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox. And with so much torque, its in-gear performance is quite startling.
One of the CLS’s biggest attributes is its gorgeous cabin. Its shallow windows create a coupé-like ambience and it has enough extra flourishes to make it feel more high-end than an E-class. The CLS is also noticeably more agile than the equivalent E-class; you wouldn’t call it sporty, but it’s highly satisfying to drive – and not just at speed on a motorway.