Mercedes CLS cornering

Used Mercedes CLS 2018-present review

What is it like?

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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 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.

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