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

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

Words By Alex Robbins

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New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS – interior & equipment

The caramel-coloured wood and beige leather of the pictured car make the Mercedes-Benz CLS’s interior look rather old-fashioned. Fortunately, other combinations were available – not to mention more widely specified. And with these finishes, the CLS’s interior is altogether more appealing, with big slabs of wood and real metal as well as soft, supple leather.

By comparison, the Volkswagen Arteon’s crisp interior looks about a decade more modern – which, to be fair, it almost is. There are some gorgeous details here, too, such as the way the air vents sweep right across the dashboard. Notably, the Arteon has Volkswagen’s virtual cockpit – a huge screen in place of the dials that allows lots of custom information and sat-nav displays. The CLS is simply too old to have this feature. That said, the Arteon isn’t quite as well finished; the quality of the materials can’t quite match up to the CLS’s as you might indeed expect, considering the CLS originates from the class above the Arteon.

For that same reason, the CLS also comes with a huge equipment list. Dual-zone climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlights, satellite-navigation and a DAB radio are all standard. If you go for a CLS equipped with the optional Premium pack, as many on the used market do, you also get electric memory seats, a reversing camera, a sunroof and split-folding rear seats, while the Premium Plus package gives you keyless entry and an upgraded sound system.

That said, the Arteon fights back with an impressive kit list of its own. Our preferred Elegance version gives you LED headlights, sat-nav and heated front seats and builds on the standard CLS’s specification with that 12.3in virtual cockpit screen, three-zone climate control (adding controls for the rear seats) and adaptive cruise control.


New Volkswagen Arteon vs used Mercedes-Benz CLS – space & practicality

The Arteon takes an easy win in this section for two reasons. First, you can fit an extra person in the back row; and secondly, because its hatchback tailgate and standard split-fold rear seats are far more versatile when it comes to loading larger items.

By comparison, the CLS’s smaller, saloon-style boot opening is much less practical – as is its rear bench, which consists of two sculpted rear seats with a storage binnacle in between that's useful for stowing odds and ends but less so for carrying an extra person. What’s more, the CLS only gets folding rear seats as part of that Premium package and the boot itself is much smaller than the Arteon’s.

That said, the seating you get in the CLS does offer plenty of room and all four seats are extremely comfortable. Mind you, the same can be said of the Arteon; indeed, it actually offers a smidge more leg room in the rear, although the payoff for this is a little less than the CLS up front.

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