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 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 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.
The car has only just gone on sale in the UK, and that means that the full range isn’t yet available. For the moment, you can only buy cars with six-cylinder engines and four-wheel drive, although you can choose between one petrol and two diesels. Later this year, the range-topping Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 will arrive, followed by cheaper four-cylinder models.
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...
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.