Few cars manage to look fresh eight years after their launch, but the Mercedes CLS does just that. Even though the sleek second-generation model was introduced in 2012, the original car still turns heads and, because it was much more popular than Mercedes ever anticipated, there are decent numbers on the used market.
Although the CLS is based on the E-Class saloon, it doesn’t offer quite as much space inside. Six-footers have to stoop slightly in the back, although there is room for four adults and plenty of boot space.
The cabin is nicely finished and the driving position is excellent, with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat.
The chassis was modified over the E-Class's, so the CLS has a sharper, sportier feel, but not in an overly aggressive way. Most models still provide a comfortable ride and are easy to live with.
Performance, even from the diesel version, is strong, yet it doesn’t come at the cost of refinement. The CLS might look flash, but it’s a sophisticated and relaxing cruiser.
We recommend the 224bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which is just as fast to 60mph (6.9 seconds) as the entry-level 350 petrol and has stacks of pulling power, yet returns a reasonable 37mpg on average. All cars get climate control, cruise control, part-leather trim and an automatic gearbox as standard.
If that's not enough, you could go for the CLS 500, which gets a 306bhp 5.0-litre V8 and hits 60mph in 6.1 seconds. Remember, though, that both your fuel and insurance bills will get bigger along with your engine’s size.
Whatever you're after, it's worth shopping around, because Mercedes offered a host of options for the CLS, including air suspension.
If you can afford it, go for a post-2006 model, because safety was revamped then with the addition of Neck-Pro anti-whiplash head restraints and a Pre-Safe system to reduce occupant injury.
Despite being based on one of the less reliable generations of Mercedes , the CLS has held up well. Whereas the E-Class had problems with weak interior trim, the CLS has remained sturdy. However, it’s worth checking to see whether any electrical gremlins have surfaced, so make sure all the gadgets work properly.
Some owners have had problems with the automatic gearbox getting stuck in gear, so ensure the ’box is as smooth as it should be on your test drive. Also, diesel glow plugs sometimes fail, so check the car starts first time every time. Tyres are expensive, too; look to see how worn they are and insist on replacements if necessary.
The CLS was recalled for a possible faulty brake pedal, engines losing power, the passenger airbag not deploying properly and fuel leaks, but all these should have been rectified by a dealer. Check that they have before handing over any money.
We found these on the forecourt:
Mercedes CLS 320 CDI
‘07/57, 36,000 miles, £14,995
Mercedes CLS 320 CDI
‘05/55, 59,000 miles, £10,450
Highcliffe Motor Co.
By Rory White
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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