Our cars: Mercedes CLS - September
Week ending September 21
Driven this week: 1221 miles
Mercedes-Benz CLS review
I've always been a fan of the CLS, but after spending the last week on holiday in our long-termer, I’m even more convinced of the Merc's abilities.
Before setting off, I was concerned the CLS might be a bit small to take four adults (two of them over six feet tall) to the south of France and back again in comfort.
There was no need to worry. By putting the taller people on different sides of the car, everyone had plenty of legroom, and those in the back even commented about the large amount of stowage space in the cabin.
The 2.1-litre diesel engine impressed, too. It's reasonably smooth and quiet for a four-cylinder, and managed just over 40mpg over the 1200-mile round trip. That’s not bad at all considering that most of these miles were on the motorway at French speed limits.
The thing is, though, unless you're a company car driver, I'd recommend going for the 350 CDI version. The extra £3600 you’ll have to pay isn’t much at this budget, and the quieter, more powerful six-cylinder engine makes the CLS’s high price somewhat easier to justify.
Our Mercedes CLS on video
Week ending September 14
Driven this week: 690 miles
The CLS was tasked with taking two important loads (several members of my family, plus a garden statue) to a friend's 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday. The 50-mile trip to the south coast should have shown the sleek Mercedes in its best light.
Things got off to a great start. The CLS looks suitably upmarket, the boxed statue easily fitted into the huge boot and everyone had plenty of room in the cabin. In fact, I think the interior is the best part of the car: it's as comfortable as it is attractive, and is beautifully assembled from quality material. In other words, it's the ideal place in which to let the miles waft by.
Or rather it would be if the wheels and suspension allowed them to. Our Sport model's big alloys thudded into potholes in town, and even on faster roads the ride was unsettled by coarse surfaces.
The engine didn't help, either. The four-cylinder diesel soundtrack doesn't match the Merc's 'premium' image, and it sounds gruff when you rev it. That it makes the CLS economical, tax-efficient and effortlessly swift are ultimately more important, but a car this plush deserves a better engine.
I really wanted to like the CLS, but came away slightly disappointed by the unrefined engine and ride.
Week ending September 7
Driven this week: 710 miles
The CLS has done plenty of motorway miles this week. Unfortunately, many of those were done on the M25, so were at walking pace, with a lot of stopping in between.
This gave the engine stop-start system a proper workout – I'm glad they build these systems to last, because they must put the battery and starter motor under quite a bit of stress.
One thing all this stop-start commuting has convinced me of is that there are few better places to do it than the cabin of the CLS; the comfort is excellent and the seats offer good support. My problematic back also feels nicely relaxed when I put the heated seat into full-on afterburner mode, too. Brilliant.