The Mercedes CLS is a good compromise between a coupe and a saloon. If you want something sleeker than a typical saloon, but need more space than in a regular coupe, the CLS is the car for you
The Mercedes CLS is the kind of car that will appeal to people who want to have their cake and eat it. After all, it’s described as a four-door coupe, and sets out to do something that sounds almost impossible: to combine the best bits of both types of car.
On the one hand, in the interior, you get something approaching the high-class cabin and practicality you’d expect of a Mercedes executive saloon, such as the E- or S-Class; and, on the other hand, it’s all dressed up in a body that’s very deliberately designed to include features that are typical of Mercedes coupes.
This is a relatively new sector of the market, but Mercedes can claim to have created it with the first generation of the Mercedes CLS, which was launched back in 2003. This is the third generation of the car and it follows very much the same recipe as the previous versions, offering an alternative to the likes of the Audi A7, Volkswagen Arteon and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, as well sportier posh cars, such as the Jaguar XF.
Where this third-generation model differs from the old Mercedes CLS models is that its body is much smoother, with fewer lines and creases in the metal. However, you don’t have to look far to see features that are reserved for Merc’s coupes, such as the ‘diamond’ grille, the two-section tail lights and the Mercedes badge on the boot lid.
When it comes to choosing the colour of your leather upholstery, Mercedes clearly follows the Henry Ford principle: you can have any colour as long as it’s black. As are the steering wheel, dashboard, door trims, parcel shelf, roof lining and carpet...
Engine choices are a couple of six-cylinder diesels (350d and 400d), a 2.0-litre petrol (350), a 3.0-litre 299hp petrol (450) and the CLS 53, which is powered by a 3.0-litre, 435bhp petrol engine. All petrol engines are supported by a small electric hybrid system.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time driving the CLS to realise that it excels as a very safe high-speed cruiser that will cover huge distances in complete comfort, with very little apparent effort from the engines. Stick to motorways and main roads, and you’ll really be playing it to its strengths. Only if you expect it to behave like a genuine sports car along a tight B-road will you be disappointed with the way it drives. Ultimately, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a big car.
Likewise, you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting the same degree of space and practicality you’ll find in, say, an E-Class, but the CLS is still a decent four-seater, and you can fit a reasonable amount in the boot, too.
For more detailed and in-depth analysis of the Mercedes CLS read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. Or, to see what kind of offers are available on the CLS, click through to our deals page.