Our cars: Mercedes CLS - January 2012

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Mercedes CLS
Mercedes CLS
Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI Sport

Week ending January 27
Mileage 7600
Driven this week 567 miles

As you’ll read elsewhere, editor Hallett grabbed the key to my Jag this week, so it seemed only fair for me to park myself in his CLS.

Given that they’re both slinky four-door execs, the differences between them are marked. The Jag’s interior, as stylish as it may be, is nowhere near the Merc’s for quality and ease of use. Every switch and lever in the CLS operates with silkily damped action, whereas the Jag’s buttons and dials don’t have that same feeling of integrity. The Merc’s infotainment system is also much easier to use than the Jag’s slow-reacting touch-screen affair.

However, I reckon the Merc trails the Jag in many other areas. It generates more engine and road noise, it doesn’t steer as well, it isn’t as nimble and the ride is crashier than the Jag’s. I also reckon it isn’t nearly as good-looking.

During last weekend, I undertook a journey I’ve done many times in the Jag, and discovered that the Merc’s DAB radio doesn’t hold on to a signal nearly as well as the Jag’s. It was deeply irritating because the football match I was listening to had just reached the crucial ‘and the ball comes in from the left’ stage. Does anyone know the final score?

Mercedes-Benz CLS review

Week ending January 13
Mileage 7133
Driven this week 433 miles

I’ve heard quite a bit from the rest of the What Car? team about how good the CLS is on the motorway, but I’ve taken it across London a couple of times over the past week, and the high-speed stuff isn’t the only area it excels in. I think an average of 43mpg in rush hour is extraordinary, particularly because it’s an auto, of course.

This is when the stop-start system comes into its own, turning off the engine as soon as you come to a halt in traffic – no interruption to the radio or air-con – and then firing it up again as soon as you lift your foot off the brake to move away.

It’s not quite as smooth as the set-up in the CLS350 CGi, which benefits from the inherent smoothness of a petrol engine with more cylinders (it’s a 3.5-litre V6), but it’s still eerily impressive.


Week ending January 13
Mileage 6700
Driven this week: 300 miles

Ah. The CLS was a welcome sight in the airport car park earlier this week when the What Car? team had climbed off the overnight flight from Detroit after covering the motor show.

It made me realise, once again, just what a comfortable car this is. It's quiet too - once it had warmed up and we were crawling back from Heathrow in the morning rush hour traffic. By the time we'd got back to What Car? HQ the eight-hour flight was a distant memory. That's the sign of a good car.


Week ending January 6
Mileage: 6400
Driven this week: 300 miles

I drove the CLS this week for the first time since it arrived last September. Back then, it wasn't fully run in, so I hoped by now the engine would be nicely loosened up.

It certainly has plenty of go and it's impressively quiet on the motorway. I'm still disappointed by how gruff the engine is at low speed, though.

Compared with the VW Golf 2.0 TDI I spent the past week or so in, the CLS's engine is louder and rougher on start-up and much more noticeable in city traffic. That's not so good considering the CLS costs well over twice as much.


Our cars: Mercedes CLS - December


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