Mercedes CLS review

For 
Powerful engines, fuel-saving and performance enhancing hybrid tech, technology-filled interior

Our Rating 
4
Against 
Not the sportiest car to drive, sloping roofline affects headroom, no four-cylinder models for now

Mercedes CLS front
2018

The Mercedes CLS was the original premium four-door coupe, but this third-generation car moves the game on in almost every area

While we’ve only driven the powerful 400 d in the UK (and Mercedes-AMG 53 abroad) so far, it’s clear the new Mercedes-Benz CLS moves the game on. With more efficient hybrid engines, a plethora of tech options and new, sleeker styling, the four-door coupe is more desirable than ever. It’s super relaxing to drive and the sumptuous interior comes laden with kit. Four-cylinder engines should bring those lofty list prices down in time, too. 


26 Jun, 2018

4.4

As you’d expect, the CLS is beautifully trimmed inside and out, with the finest materials money can buy. Every car gets the widescreen dashboard display from the E-Class, as well as ambient lighting that can alter between 64 different colours. While most owners will choose one and leave it that way, it’s nice to know your car can – if you want – switch from green to pink and back to blue in the blink of an eye.

There’s leather everywhere you look, covering the car from head to toe. The quality of craftsmanship is absolutely excellent, and is on par with the more expensive S-Class saloon. It feels incredibly classy, with well-integrated switchgear and perfectly placed buttons throughout.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

While Mercedes will charge you extra for the biggest digital dash and dials in an E-Class, CLS customers get the twin-screen 12.3-inch displays as standard. Whichever model you choose, you’ll benefit from the huge widescreen display, which comes packed with functionality and connected services. 

Every car gets a high-definition reversing camera, and if you opt for the Premium Plus package (£3,895) you’ll add other goodies including a Burmester stereo and the Comand Online infotainment system. The standard sound set-up is pretty good, though – so make sure you need the extra kit before taking the plunge.

4.1

The CLS might look sleeker and sportier than an E-Class saloon but that doesn’t necessarily make it more engaging to drive. As the cars share the same platform there are many similarities to how they both feel behind the wheel – mainly the experience proves relaxing and comfortable.

To get the best out of the CLS you have to take it easy; it’s a large, heavy car and doesn’t manage its weight particularly well if you begin to drive quickly though corners. It’s best to set the car in its softest setting let the air suspension take the edge off rutted roads and the powerful engine propel you along effortlessly. 

The CLS 450 is the most powerful of the standard models (the AMG 53 tops the range) using a 362bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. Clever 48v mild hybrid tech is also incorporated, which adds 22bhp and 250Nm of torque to boost performance under hard acceleration.

Although the petrols are quicker on paper, the diesel models feel just as quick on the road thanks to their superior torque output. The steering on all variants is quite vague and light, and while that doesn’t do anything to improve the car’s sporty nature, it does add to the sense of refinement and luxury. 

Three driving modes Comfort, Sport and Sport+ alter the engine response, steering weight and ride quality. In a car which is all about luxury it seems a bit unnecessary and alloy wheels which start at 19 inches means the ride can be a little firm at times. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The quickest model in the CLS range is the AMG 53. Its 429bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine is capable of firing it from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. However, the CLS 450 isn’t too far behind, its 362bhp motor covers the same benchmark sprint in 4.9 seconds. 

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Four-cylinder diesel engines are expected to arrive in the CLS next year, but for now the diesel range is made up of punchy six-cylinder motors. The 350d and 400d use the same 3.0-litre engine but produce 282bhp and 335bhp respectively. That translates to 0-62mph times of 5.7 and 5.0 seconds. All models are limited to a155mph top speed. 

4.5

Despite a small production quality blip in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mercedes has a hard fought and well deserved reputation for reliability. Safety has always been of paramount importance, with many world firsts trickling down from S-Class to E-Class, A-Class and, of course, the CLS models too. 

Every car comes with Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive, which the firm claims “takes the stress and strain out of every journeys”. Using a suite of sensors, the CLS monitors the road in every direction, and can actively sense dangerous situations – applying the brakes if necessary. Of course, every CLS comes with a long list of airbags, too.

Mercedes finished in 20th position in the 2018 Driver Power Survey, behind its main German rivals BMW and Audi, as well as Japanese giants Lexus, too. The CLS is too new and too exclusive to feature in the individual model round-up for now. 

Warranty

Every new Mercedes comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, so if you cover more than 20,000 miles per year, it trumps the Audi A7’s three-year/60,000-mile cap. Of course, all consumables like tyres and brakes are excluded, but reliability is good so these shouldn’t need replacing more than on an equivalent A7 or BMW 6 Series.

Servicing

Mercedes offers fixed-price service plans across the range, and these apply to the CLS, too. Using figures for the previous-generation model, a Mercedes ServiceCare plan starts from £34 per month, based on a two-year/two service deal.

If you intend to keep your car a little longer, a three-year deal (with three services) might make more sense. This bumps things up to £37 per month, while four years and four services will cost £38 per month. If you cover higher mileages and need to service your CLS more often, it could cost you as much as £152 per month – but that does account for four services in the first year.

3.4

The fact Mercedes bills the CLS as a four-door Coupe should give you some idea of the practicality compromises. While it’s more versatile than the two-door E-Class Coupe or Cabriolet, if you regularly carry passengers then an E-Class saloon makes more sense.

While technically a five-seater, force your friends to sit three abreast in the back and it won’t take long for the whinging to start. While headroom isn’t awful, the sloping roofline makes things tricky for taller adults. The raised transmission tunnel limits legroom for those in the middle, too.

The standard-fit reversing camera enhances visibility, while the 360-degree set-up on Premium Plus cars improves things even further. Multibeam LED headlights make driving in the dark much easier, while Merc’s Agility Control Suspension ensures comfort over all but the roughest roads. 

Size

At almost five metres long (4,996mm), the CLS is a big car whichever way you look at it. It’s 59mm longer than before, as well as being 15mm wider and 18mm taller, too. It’s based on the Mercedes E-Class, and bridges the gap between that car and the bigger, flasher S-Class by adding a stylish sloping roofline and cutting edge tech. 

An Audi A7 is shorter and lower, but ever so slightly wider than the CLS – though its more practical lift-back means it’s arguably easier to live with if you regularly carry big or bulky loads.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Naturally, the CLS’s sloping roofline does affect space in the back. It’s not as spacious as an E-Class saloon, yet all but the tallest adults should be able to get comfortable in the rear. The high transmission tunnel (necessary for the car’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system) makes it harder for middle-seat occupants, however.

Of course, there’s plenty of space up front, and the luxurious leather seats adjust in countless different directions – making it easy to find the perfect driving position. In our experience, however, some of the seats in the cheaper E-Class lack lower back support – so be sure they suit your body shape before signing on the dotted line.

Boot

The Audi A7 has the edge over Merc’s latest CLS due to its more practical hatchback-style lift-back. The CLS gets a saloon-style boot lid, which limits how much it can carry. 

Mercedes hasn’t released figures yet, but those trading up from the old car won’t be disappointed. The boot seems a decent size, and should be able to swallow everything you need for a long weekend away.

4

The third-generation Mercedes CLS features the firm’s latest and greatest six-cylinder engines. While every new Audi A7 features 48v mild-hybrid tech, the entry-level CLS 350 d and 400 d feature no form of electrification. Despite this, they should be relatively affordable to run – with both managing close to 50mpg. 

The most economical model is the CLS 350 d, which Mercedes claims will do 48.7mpg. The more powerful 400 d will do 47.9mpg, while both emit only 156g/km of CO2 – falling into the 36 per cent Benefit in Kind (BiK) tax band.

The CLS 450 petrol model uses a new 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine with EQ boost technology. This uses an Audi-style 48-volt starter generator and lithium-ion battery to boost power by up to 22bhp for short periods of time. It’ll do 36.2mpg, while emitting 184g/km of CO2. 

An AMG CLS 53 model tops the range for the time being, and by using the same 48v tech will return 32.5mpg and 200g/km of CO2. A nine-speed transmission is standard across the range.

Insurance groups

Insurance groups for the latest Mercedes CLS haven’t been announced yet, but due to its desirability, long kit lists and high prices, we expect the new car to command large annual premiums. For reference, the old Mercedes CLS 350 d AMG Line sat in group 48 – just two groups from the top.

Depreciation

The Mercedes CLS has always been a desirable car, but its high list prices mean you’ll suffer heavy depreciation when it’s time to sell. While it’s better than the old car (residual values ranged from 32 to 35 per cent), no new CLS retains more than 44 per cent of its value after three years or 36,000 miles.

The strongest performer is the CLS 400 d AMG Line (43.7 per cent), while the worst is the CLS 450 AMG Line with the Premium Plus pack fitted (39 per cent). The popular 350 d sits somewhere in between the two.

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The all-new Audi A7 is no better, however, as all versions are expected to retain between 38 and 39 per cent of their value over the same timeframe.

Source: – autoexpress
Mercedes CLS review