We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Every bit as good to drive as it is to look at

Against Limited headroom for six-footers; AMG version is thirsty

Verdict More of a stylish saloon than a coupe, but it's a superb drive nonetheless

Go for… CLS350

Avoid… CLS55 AMG

Mercedes-Benz CLS Saloon
  • 1. There's room for four adults and plenty of boot space
  • 2. There have been electrical problems reported, so ensure that all of the gadgets work correctly before you buy
  • 3. The CLS is based on the E-Class, which - worryingly - is not one of the company's most reliable cars
  • 4. Our money would go into an entry-level 350, which has more than enough power and plenty of toys
  • 5. The CLS is a very comfortable cruiser, and not too bad down a back road either
advertisement

Mercedes-Benz CLS Saloon full review with expert trade views

Is it a coupe or is it a saloon? Does it really matter when it looks this good?

Although the dramatic-looking 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. Stowage space is good, too, the cabin is very nicely finished and the driving position is excellent with a fully adjustable electric driver’s seat.

With a chassis that's modified over the basic E-Class's, the CLS has a sharper, more sporting 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 may look flash, but it’s a civilised and relaxing cruiser.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

More popular than Merc anticipated. High demand used. CLS 320 and AMG most popular

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

We recommend the basic 350. The 3.5-litre, 268bhp V6 engine hits 60mph in 6.9sec and standard kit includes climate control, cruise control, part-leather trim, CD player and electric windows.

If that's still not enough, you could go for the 500, which gets a 306bhp 5.0-litre V8 and hits 60mph in 6.1sec, or the 224bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, which is just as fast to 60mph as the 350 petrol and has stacks of pulling power.

The range-topping 476bhp 5.4-litre V8 55 AMG is ultra-rapid, hitting 60mph in 4.7sec, although, like the rest of the range, it’s restricted to a maximum speed of 155mph. As with the 500, full leather seats are standard fit.

Whatever you're after, it's worth shopping around, as Mercedes offered a host of options for the CLS, including air-suspension. And, if you can, go for a post-2006 model, as safety was revamped then with the addition of Neck-Pro anti-whiplash head restraints and a Pre-Safe system to reduce occupant injury.

Trade view

James Ruppert

CLS320 CDI most sought after but rare, so CLS350 better

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The CLS looks set to keep a strong grip on its value as it ages, so you can rule out any thoughts of a bargain used buy.

Insurance is costly, too; the CLS55 AMG is in group 20 while the CLS500 is in 19. Even the entry 350 is no lower than group 18.

It's a similar - and costly - story with fuel economy. Drive the AMG fast and you can pretty much see the fuel gauge sinking. Officially, it's rated at 21.0mpg, but the reality in everyday driving is mid-to-low teens.

You're better off with the 500 (which does a claimed 25.0mpg) or the 28.0mpg 350, but it’s the 320CDI diesel that will cross continents most effectively as its 37.2mpg makes it by far the most frugal CLS.

Proper maintenance is vital, but - you've guessed it - costly. Mercedes-Benz dealers charge a similar hourly rate to Jaguar and that makes them pricier than both Audi and BMW. Independent specialists charge closer to the class average, but you may lose out when you come to sell it on if the service book isn't full of official Mercedes dealer stamps.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

More popular than Merc anticipated. High demand used. CLS 320 and AMG most popular

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

By late 2006 the CLS had been subject to only one official recall, to adjust the brake system. Only cars built up until the end of 2005 were affected.

The problem also affected the E-Class saloon, the model on which the CLS is based, and a car that has been far from Mercedes-Benz’s most reliable. There have been electrical problems, so ensure that all of the many gadgets on the CLS are working correctly.

Interior build quality has also been an issue on the E-Class, but the CLS’s is superb.

Trade view

James Ruppert

CLS320 CDI most sought after but rare, so CLS350 better

James Ruppert
Used car guru
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014