Our cars: Mercedes CLS - March 2012
Week ending March 30
Driven this week: 720 miles
Mercedes-Benz CLS review
I’m old enough to remember a time when if your motor was running a bit rough you’d take it for a ‘good run’ to blow out the cobwebs. These days, engines run so lean and so efficiently the idea of ‘fouling-up’ due to too much town driving seems almost laughable. Even so, I’m convinced our long term CLS is running all the sweeter after a recent trip to the Scottish borders.
Using as many of the country’s iconic driving roads as practical I took a four-day jaunt; first to Birmingham, then to Edinburgh via Newcastle on Tyne, finally ending up north-west of Glasgow at Loch Lomond.
The CLS drove impeccably throughout, returning an incredible 50.1mpg. It effortlessly traversed motorways with the comfort of a luxury car, while displaying the agility of a sports car when rounding hairpin bends and pulling like a steam train to the top of challenging crests.
If I was pushed to single out one aspect of the CLS for special praise, it would have to be its seats. On the journey back I did a straight nine hours behind the wheel, pausing only briefly to refuel and when I finally arrived back in Hampshire I bailed out without so much as a twinge.
Week ending March 23
Driven this week: 600 miles
The summer tyres are back on the Merc and so a trip to some of my favourite roads in mid-Wales was a good opportunity to see if the CLS 250 is as sporty to drive as it looks.
The roads were clear, dry and twisty, so conditions were perfect. The upshot is that the CLS is a really faithful car if you’re in the mood to go cross-country ‘briskly’. There’s plenty of traction, steering and body control are excellent and the diesel engine punches you out of corners well.
It’s also an effective overtaker even in those ‘will I won’t I’ situations.
What it’s not is the sportiest or best-handling car that you can buy for the money. This was confirmed the day after I got back from Wales when I had a shot in a diesel-engined Porsche Panamera and an Alpina D5. Both of them are a little pricier than the CLS but both would have destroyed it on those back roads. No worries, though, as the Merc has other charms which are still appealing.
Week ending March 16
Driven this week: 400 miles
Now that the sun's coming out on a more regular basis I've taken the decision to swap the Merc's winter tyres back to the regular ones.
As there was no snow to speak of this year, the £1300 cost for new rims and rubber was wasted. However I've consoled myself with the fact that they are ready for next year's cold snap and I've saved tyre wear on the 'summer' rubber. They will also, of course, be a saleable asset if necessary.
With the normal rims on I'm back up to riding on 19inch wheels, so the ride feels a little firmer. They are more confidence-inspiring, though, and the steering is better. They do look tons better as well. Mind you, the CLS is one of the best-looking saloons on the road whatever the rubber.
Week ending March 9
Driven this week 200 miles
I've had the opportunity to do quite a few long trips in our Mercedes CLS, and I have to admit I am so charmed by this car.
It's no sportscar, but I emerged from a long, dark and very wet journey feeling completely fresh and relaxed because of the blend of stability, grip and comfort.
I also struggle to understand how it can be so economical. It's impossible to drop beneath 50mpg on a long trip, even if you're in a hurry. And while there is a slight diesel clatter at low speeds, it's inaudible when you're cruising, thanks to the tall gearing.
My one reservation is the sat-nav system which, although it always gets you where you want to go, seems quite difficult to operate by the standards of today's smartphones like the iPhone.
Week ending March 2
Driven this week 400 miles
Several people have asked how I get along with ‘just’ four seats in the Merc CLS.
Well in my case, the answer’s just fine thanks. As you can see it has two individual rear seats, rather than a traditional bench and they’re separated by two huge (and useful) cubby holes with sliding lids.
My lifestyle means that there’s rarely any need to carry more than four people and I think that the CLS’s seating arrangement lends to Merc a far more upmarket and glamorous look. It also, of course, makes it look far more like a coupe. What’s more, if you're relegated to the rear seats, there is a surprising amount of head- and kneeroom – despite the CLS’s swoopy roofline.