New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS: which is best?

The new Volkswagen Arteon is a seriously desirable four-door coupé – but is a nearly new Mercedes-Benz CLS for the same price even more tempting?...

New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS: which is best?

The SUV may be all the rage these days, but it’s not the only type of car whose popularity is burgeoning. Quietly, and almost unnoticed, the four-door coupé is making its way into the mainstream, finding favour with family buyers who appreciate the practicality of a saloon or hatchback but still lust after the sleek lines of a coupé.

The Volkswagen Arteon is the latest to hit the market. It picks up where the old Volkswagen CC left off, but in place of that car’s saloon rear end it features a large hatchback, giving the Arteon added practicality. Five seats now come as standard, too, and there’s a smart interior and upmarket styling – all of which makes the Arteon look like a truly premium product.

But why buy chicken when you can have steak? The Mercedes-Benz CLS was the car that started the four-door coupé craze and the second-generation version is one of our top used car buys. On paper, a second-hand example offers a lot more for the same amount of money – but, of course, it comes with the pitfalls of a used car. So which is the better way of spending your cash? Time to find out.

Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TDI Elegance List Price £34,655 Target Price £32,202 Official fuel economy 65.7mpg CO2 emissions 112g/km Power 148bhp 0-62mph 9.4sec Top speed 138mph

Mercedes-Benz CLS 350CDI AMG Line Price new £50,695 Price today £30,000 Official fuel economy 51.4mpg CO2 emissions 142g/km Power 254bhp 0-62mph 6.5sec Top speed 155mph

Price today is based on a 2016 model with average mileage and a full service history

New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS – styling


New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS: which is best?

Styling is always a subjective thing, so which car you pick as your winner here is going to depend largely on your personal taste. Suffice to say, both cars boast lines that’ll make you turn back for one last look as you lock and leave them.

Whether it’s the Arteon’s snarling nose or the graceful sweep of the CLS’s roofline that floats your boat, either car will look the part whether you’re turning up for an important business meeting or simply arriving at the health club.

New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS – driving


New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS: which is best?

Our favourite Arteon is, in fact, the petrol-powered 2.0 TSI – but since our preferred used CLS is diesel-powered and finding a petrol one is a needle-in-haystack business, we’ve opted for the 2.0 TDI. This is not only fairer for the purposes of this comparison, but it's also likely the bigger seller.

What’s startling is that you can buy a two-year-old example of our chosen CLS, the potent 3.0-litre 350 CDI, for the same price as a brand new 2.0-litre Arteon. If you’ve already cast your eye over the spec boxes at the top of this page, you’ll have noticed the performance advantage this gives the CLS.

Out on the road, that manifests itself in an enormous shove that the Arteon, despite being smaller and lighter, simply can’t match. Where progress in the Arteon is merely adequate, in the CLS it’s muscular; on most roads, the former simply won’t see which way the latter went.

On standard Sport suspension, the CLS loses out on ride quality to the Arteon, although only just, because the latter’s standard suspension isn’t the most settled at town speeds. However, if you can find a CLS fitted with Comfort suspension – which was available at no extra cost – or, even better, the optional air suspension, it’ll waft away with the laurels in this area, and that’s the case even if you tick the option box for the Arteon’s adaptive suspension set-up. Happily, it’s not too hard to find a CLS equipped with air suspension; they show up in the classifieds with agreeable regularity.

What’s more, despite its extra size and weight, the CLS seems to have the edge over the Arteon in terms of handling. Neither is the last word in involvement, but whichever suspension set-up you choose the CLS delivers a smidge more involvement and comes with more pleasingly-weighted steering. 

New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS: which is best?

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