First Drive Review: Mercedes-Benz CLS

Independent review by Chris Russon

5-minute read

Mercedes-Benz CLS Front Action

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz CLS

Explore the key features of the Mercedes-Benz CLS in our expert first drive review

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Highlights

The Mercedes-Benz CLS is an impressive model, with a high performance and driver-focused experience being the tip of the iceberg.

 

  • Innovative technology
  • Refined feel
  • High performing
  • Luxury interior
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Introduction

Take a close look at Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 car, and there is a symbol just behind the cockpit that is very important to Mercedes-Benz.

It is the logo of EQ – a sub-company created by Mercedes to spearhead the German carmaker’s electrification programme.

And it is this technology that is making its way from the five time world champion’s hybrid race car to everyday Mercedes-Benz models.

EQ, apparently, stands for Electric Intelligence and is derived from the brand’s values of emotion and intelligence.

It is a name that is going to be applied to every Mercedes car that uses battery-electric power. The EQ line up has already arrived in the UK in the shape of the latest CLS 450 and S 500 models, which have EQ Boost mild hybrid powertrains.

Engine and Performance

We tried out the EQ system in the new CLS 450, and it was more than impressive.

The Mercedes-Benz CLS is powered by the latest Mercedes 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine hooked up to a 48-volt electrical system comprising a starter/generator and a lithium-ion battery.

The electronic assist cuts in only when needed, and does so unnoticeably under acceleration. It adds some 22 extra horsepower and gives the CLS a total power output of 362bhp, resulting in a lively 0 to 62 acceleration time of 4.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Crucially, the electric assistance system adds a huge amount of extra torque – 184lb ft to be precise and that doubles the pulling power, giving great mid-range operation.

The real benefit comes with fuel economy, and the system is capable of ‘sailing’ – that is, running the car with the combustion engine in idle when cruising.

Officially, the CLS 450 is rated at 36.2mpg with emissions of 184g/km – a significant improvement over the other 3.0-litre petrol model in the range, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53.

And that is no idle boast. On our run in the CLS, we managed to exceed the official figure and saw an average of 36.6mpg recorded on the trip computer.

Externally, the CLS 450 we drove is no different to the rest of the CLS line up, and the only real tell-tale that it has EQ Boost is with the instrumentation. There is an EQ power gauge at the bottom of the rev counter and a slightly different readout on the trip computer.

All models come with the Mercedes 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system as well as a nine speed automatic transmission.

Equipment and Technology

The CLS 450 we tried came with extras fitted including a Premium Plus pack which added a Comand online system with 12.3-inch display panel, a surround sound system and a 360-degree camera system.

It also came with a Driving Assistance Plus package that included active blind spot and evasive steering assistance, as well as a semi-autonomous lane keeping and changing system.

Design and Practicality

All UK models come in AMG Line trim which includes 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery and an active suspension system.

The petrol versions have a 17.5 gallon fuel tank which reduces boot space to 490 litres from the 520 litres available in the diesels which have a smaller tank at 14.5 gallons.

The CLS should have a range of more than 600 miles, and it remains a supremely stylish vehicle with powertrain technology that is sure to be seen on other Mercedes-Benz models.
Chris Russon

Summary

The CLS is an incredibly impressive Mercedes-Benz model, with stylish and refined looks that are synonymous with the Mercedes brand. Offering an enjoyable experience for drivers with the luxurious interior and state-of-the-art technologies, it is a great addition to the Mercedes-Benz line up.