Mercedes CLS is luxury for the style conscience
SUBSTANCE has to have style for Mercedes-Benz CLS owners. If they simply wanted sheet metal and space, they'd buy an S-Class. Instead they sway to the design-driven four-door coupe, accept its limitations in terms of occupant and luggage space and appreciate the fact they've bought a car few others will own.
The third iteration of the big coupe adopts most of Mercedes's new tech. It misses out on next-gen infotainment software set to debut in the A-Class but picks up the latest active driving package and a 48V electrical set-up that can improve efficiency or boost engine output.
The CLS450 4Matic is on sale now and will be followed by the entry CLS350 and top-spec CLS53 4Matic+ versions in November.
Prices start at $136,900 for the four-cylinder, rear-wheel drive CLS350, increasing to $155,529 for the six-cylinder all-wheel drive CLS450.
The dearest, at $179,529, is the AMG-enhanced CLS53 capable of varying drive to the front or rear axles as required.
Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says there will be no "shooting brake" wagon, diesel or AMG 63-badged versions of this car.
McCarthy won't be drawn on numbers but says he's previously stated a car has to have 100 sales a year to justify its existence and the CLS will "easily" achieve that. The other reason is Mercedes "won't surrender a segment", even one that is down by a third so far this year.
Standard features on the CLS include adaptive air suspension, traffic sign recognition, head-up display, "multibeam" LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery,
13-speaker Burmester audio, satnav and smartphone mirroring.
The CLS450 adds an alarm, soft-close doors, a (still-muted) bi-modal exhaust and multiple, fragrance-infused wellness modes to keep the driver calm and attentive.
The CLS53 ups the ante with reactive front seats that inflate bolsters to compensate for
G-forces when cornering, an AMG exhaust, premium leather interior and wireless phone charging.
ON THE ROAD
It is hard to fault the CLS450. This is a vehicle capable of travelling long distances without inconveniencing its occupants - providing they're in the front seats.
Taller bodies may find the tapering roof a touch tight in the rear, despite the fact this car is marginally bigger in every dimension and has stretched from a four-seater to a five. Rough surfaces can elicit hum from the run-flat tyres.
The air suspension now seems to have more distinction between drive modes and the CLS450's torque is split 45:55 front to rear to improve roadholding.
This is not a Benz you want to hustle around back roads. The sheer size and bulk - about 1860kg - mean the CLS is more adept at sweeping corners than hairpins.
Do that and the passenger seats are supportive and luxurious spaces to sit. The dual 12.3-inch displays boast big-screen clarity and the air vents are aircraft turbine-inspired intakes with in-built ambient lighting.
The CLS harks back to an era when interior and exterior design dominated the buying process. Being a Benz, there's no shortage of software under the skin. It's a classy suit at a time when buyers are gravitating towards brand-label jeans.
WHAT'S NEW: MERCEDES-BENZ CLS
PRICE The get-in price is lower at $136,900, down from $139,826. The most expensive model is now $179,529, up from $170,826.
TECHNOLOGY There are more active driving aids and a "mild hybrid" unit powered by a 48-volt battery.
PERFORMANCE The 300kW/600Nm V8 in the outgoing CLS500 model has been replaced in the CLS450 by an in-line six-cylinder with 270kW/500Nm, plus a 15kW/250Nm electrical boost.
DRIVING Free-flowing roads are the preferred terrain for the CLS but the big car is still composed on tighter turns.
DESIGN A redesigned "predator" grille retains the diamond-studded AMG-Line pattern on Australian cars and a pair of 12.3-inch screens now adorn the interior.
MERCEDES-BENZ CLS VITALS
PRICE $155,529 plus on-roads
WARRANTY/SERVICING Three yrs/unlimited km, 12 months/25,000km; $ for 3 years
SAFETY Not tested, 9 airbags, AEB, blind-spot alert and lane-keep assist
ENGINE 3.0-litre 6-cyl, 270kW/500Nm
THIRST 8.7L/100km (98 RON)
SPARE None (run-flats)