Mercedes-Benz CLS Saloon full 9 point review
Our favourite version of the CLS comes with a punchy six-cylinder diesel engine (badged 350 CDI), but we completely understand if you want to save a bit of money by going for the four-cylinder 250 CDI diesel, which is swift enough. The V6 petrol model feels a little breathless, but the turbocharged 4.7 and 5.5 V8 petrols are seriously quick.
Ride & Handling
CLS buyers can choose from three suspension set-ups: air suspension; steel springs with adaptive dampers; and a Sport option that brings firmer steel springs and dampers. Even the standard steel springs leave you with a pretty firm low-speed ride. Buyers after comfort need the air set-up, which delivers a slushy, luxury car waft. Whichever you choose, the steering is light and effortless for parking, yet precise and reassuring at higher speeds. The CLS handles neatly, too.
The CLS is good at shutting out road noise and the engines are smooth, even if the four-cylinder diesel in the 250 CDI can sound a little gruff when cold. You can hear quite a bit of wind noise from around the door mirrors and the base of the windscreen at motorway cruising speeds.
Buying & Owning
Deep pockets are a must, because the CLS costs thousands more than an equivalent E-Class. What’s more, resale values aren't significantly better, which bumps up running costs. At least the engines are pretty economical – the four-cylinder diesel gives the best fuel economy and lowest emissions of the bunch.
Quality & Reliability
Many of the fittings - such as the steering column-mounted gear selector, the stainless steel air vents and the clock in the dash - are suitably classy. However, the door-mounted electric seat adjusters let things down because they look and feel as if they could have been lifted from a humble A-Class. Mercedes performed well in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction, finishing in the top five list of manufacturers.
Safety & Security
Every CLS has nine airbags, stability control and a system that monitors your driving behaviour for signs of fatigue. What’s more, Active Lane-Keeping Assist and a blind spot warning system are available as options. Deadlocks, an alarm and locking wheel nuts help guard against theft.
Behind The Wheel
You sit lower than you do in a conventional executive saloon, so the CLS feels quite sporty, plus every version comes with some form of electric seat adjustment to help you get comfortable. Many of the car’s other functions are controlled by scrolling through on-screen menus, but these can be rather distracting to use while driving.
Space & Practicality
It might have slinky styling and a plunging roofline, but the CLS is still roomy enough for four six-footers. Just don’t expect to squeeze in a fifth – the centre console runs the full length of the cabin, cutting the rear bench in two. There are some handy storage cubbies in the console, plus the boot is large and well shaped.
Every CLS comes with a DAB digital radio, dual-zone climate control, satellite-navigation, Bluetooth, cruise control and electrically adjustable leather seats, so it's well equipped as standard. AMG Sport models have sportier styling inside and out, but they're not as good value as the cheaper versions.