Used Mercedes CLS 2018-present review

Category: Luxury car

Punchy diesel engines, lots of technology and tidy handling help mark the third-generation Mercedes CLS out from its competitors

Mercedes CLS cornering
  • Mercedes CLS cornering
  • Mercedes CLS dashboard
  • Mercedes CLS dashboard
  • Mercedes CLS side
  • Mercedes CLS rear
  • Mercedes CLS boot
  • Mercedes CLS side
  • Mercedes CLS rear
  • Mercedes CLS cornering
  • Mercedes CLS dashboard
  • Mercedes CLS dashboard
  • Mercedes CLS side
  • Mercedes CLS rear
  • Mercedes CLS boot
  • Mercedes CLS side
  • Mercedes CLS rear
Used Mercedes CLS 2018-present review
Star rating

What's the used Mercedes CLS coupe like?

Long ago, when car ownership was a luxury for only the fortunate few, coachbuilders could take the chassis of an existing vehicle and build you a more striking body to sit atop it. Today, car makers are still reclothing existing platforms with more rakish designs, particularly after the success of the original Mercedes CLS, which was based on the E-Class. So successful was the CLS, in fact, that it’s now in its third generation – and canny used car buyers can snap one up for a lot less than brand new one.

Powering the CLS is a range of three petrol and three diesel turbocharged engines. The 242bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder (badged 300d) starts off the diesel range, followed by two versions of the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit with 282bhp (350d) and 335bhp (400d). Petrol lovers can choose between a 295bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder (350) and a 3.0-litre six-cylinder making 362bhp (450) or 429bhp (AMG 53). All four-cylinder engines drive the rear wheels, while the six-cylinder models have Mercedes' 4Matic four-wheel-drive system. A nine-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range.


The third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS trails rivals such as the Audi A7 Sportback due to its firm ride, excessive suspension noise and cramped confines in the rear for taller passengers

  • Punchy six-cylinder engines
  • Generous equipment list
  • Enjoyable handling
  • Firm ride on standard suspension
  • Limited rear head room
  • Excessive suspension noise

The driving experience is a bit of a mixed bag, because there’s very little wind noise and the engines are generally really quiet – particularly the six-cylinder diesels. Road noise is a bit more noticeable and there’s a surprising amount of suspension noise over bumps, and even models equipped with the optional air suspension struggle with pockmarked asphalt at lower speeds. Things do settle once you're up to a motorway cruise, though.

However, there is a certain amount of enjoyment to be had behind the wheel of a CLS, because the handling is rather sweet and there’s plenty of grip. The automatic gearbox swaps between ratios quickly, more so than that of the Audi A7 Sportback. Precise steering and progressive, smooth brakes complete what is a very pleasant package.

As you’d expect from a car with a lower roofline than a regular saloon, head room for anyone more than 6ft tall might become a problem whether you’re in the front or rear, particularly if the car is fitted with a sunroof. The CLS's driving position is alright, but the slightly offset pedals and bulge in the transmission tunnel by your left leg are a bit of a disappointment. The boot is still a decent size, although the small opening is rather awkward to get items through.

AMG Line is the only trim available on the CLS, so it’s very well equipped, with 19in alloy wheels, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, LED adaptive headlights, leather seats that are heated in the front, keyless entry, a 12.3in infotainment system and a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat.

Cars fitted with the Premium Plus packed are worth looking out for, because that adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, an upgraded Burmester stereo, a 360deg camera and full electric adjustment for the front seats. The Comfort package adds nappa leather, air suspension and an interior fragrance dispenser, but it isn’t really worth paying extra for.

Ownership cost

What used Mercedes CLS coupe will I get for my budget?

Prices for a used Mercedes CLS at the time of writing start at £38,000 for a 350d AMG Line, but prices are changing relatively rapidly, because this is still a fairly new model. Use our free valuation tool to make sure you're getting the best CLS deal.

Check the value of a used Mercedes CLS with What Car? Valuations

Mercedes CLS dashboard

How much does it cost to run a Mercedes CLS coupe?

The CLS is pretty evenly matched with its closest rivals in terms of daily fuel costs. The most economical according to the official WLTP figures is the 300d, with 45.6mpg. Both the six-cylinder 350d and 400d have a figure of 41.5mpg.

Petrol models are rather more powerful, but mild hybrid technology is fitted to all versions helps to boost efficiency. The four-cylinder 350 has a combined average of 36.2mpg, while the six-cylinder, four-wheel-drive 450 manages 34.0mpg. If you want the hotter AMG 53, this figure drops to 31.0mpg.

Road tax will be pricey, though, since every CLS costs more than £40,000 when new and will attract the highest rate of tax until the car is more than six years old. To find out more about the current road tax costs, click here.

Servicing costs at a franchised Mercedes dealership will hurt your wallet, because routine maintenance is considerably pricier than it is for other premium brands. At the time of writing, expect to pay £816 for two services, £1124 for three and £1632 for four. To put that into context, two services for an Audi under three years old will cost £468 for engines up to and including 2.0-litre models or £594 for anything above that.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes CLS coupe should I buy?

AMG Line is your only option here. This matters little, since there’s tonnes of equipment as standard, but you might want to look for a car with the Premium Plus pack, which includes the full smartphone integration the CLS usually misses out on.

The Driving Assistance Plus pack adds a lot of active safety technology, such as blindspot monitoring, which might be useful for those who do lots of motorway miles.

We’d recommend the 350d as the best engine choice. Unless you do only urban driving, the petrols aren’t a patch on the performance, economy and refinement of this diesel.

Our favourite Mercedes CLS: 350d AMG Line Premium Plus

Mercedes CLS side


What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes CLS coupe?

The Audi A7 Sportback is brimming with all the latest technology to please the smartphone-wielding generation. It may even appeal to the engineering set, because you can get some versions of the A7 with four-wheel steering to make it more nimble in town and improve the feeling of stability at speed.

The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé, meanwhile, mixes it with the best in the five-door coupé market as an extremely well made and refined grand tourer with room for four adults.

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Mercedes CLS rear