It was over 10 years ago when the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class first arrived, marking the birth of the “four-door coupe.” The automotive world hasn’t been the same since.
Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 that makes 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: seven speed automatic
Fuel Economy US: RWD: 20/30 MPG city/highway. AWD: 19/26 MPG
Fuel Economy: AWD: 12.1 l/100kms city, 8.5 l/100kms highway
Price USD: Starts at $66,915 after destination. As tested: $77,415.
Price CAN: Starts at $75,900 As Tested: $86,050
Back in those simple times, cars could only be called sedans or coupes. The stylish CLS re-thought what the term “coupe” could apply to and the 2015 model continues that trend with refreshed styling, a new powertrain and with a long list of available luxury features.
Styling Still Striking
When it comes to pulling the starry-eyed gazes as a practical four-door body, the CLS has been undefeated since it first debuted in 2004. The new design is still effective at getting attention, thanks to a redesign of the front end that includes a flashy new grille that uses little chrome diamonds to help embellish the three-pointed badge up front. The car also uses LED headlights that have an easily recognizable design.
Some may find it gaudy, but the extra chrome accents on this car really help it stand out. There’s a chrome front lip and a chrome strip along back that help highlight the dark taillights. Just below the doors is another trim piece that helps make the car look longer than it is, giving it presence on the road.
Luxurious Interior for the Select Few
That elegance continues inside, where the seats of the CLS seem to greet you with a warm, yet firm hug. All four seats in the car are comfortable, but the front row is especially enjoyable. Our tester was equipped with seats that feature active side bolsters to automatically brace you for a corner on turn-in and a massage function with four modes. Unfortunately, those features are only on the driver’s seat.
But rear seat passengers have bigger things to worry about, like the 36.1 inches of headroom. For reference, Volkswagen Jetta or Chevrolet Cruze both feature more rear seat headroom than the CLS. On the other hand, if your passengers have long legs, or wide hips, they’ll find the Mercedes to be quite comfortable. The armrests are well placed and adequately padded which, when combined with the soft seats, made for a great road-trip vehicle for four adults. It’s important to note that the car only seats four. The rear bench doesn’t have a middle seat, but has a nice armrest and storage space instead.
New Smooth and Efficient Engine
Helping its cause on the highway is a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. Rated for just 329 hp, the motors trump card is the 354 lb-ft of torque that’s available as soon as 1,600 rpm. Paired to the new engine is Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic that features an economy mode that’s enabled every time you turn the car on. In this mode, the transmission hurries into the highest gear possible while driving, but thanks to all the twist from the new turbocharged engine, the car never really feels hesitant to get going. But if excitement is what you’re after, put the transmission into S mode where it holds onto gears and allows you to explore the RPM range.
Fuel economy for the car varied during our testing. It was easy to get 28 MPG on longer journeys that consisted of mostly highway driving, but city-only driving saw that number drop to about 18 MPG. Helping to make the car more efficient in stop-and-go traffic is an engine start/stop system, which is noticeably smooth in its operation. In many other cars, I reach to shut this system off moments after experiencing the uncomfortable shudder of an engine shutting down or starting up, but in the CLS, it’s quite refined. The CLS comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but our tester was equipped with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system. If you stick with the rear-drive model, expect fuel economy to improve by about two MPG.
The steering of the CLS is well weighted and provides the feeling that you’re in control, without requiring too much effort for tight turns. The CLS is quiet on the road where bumps and imperfections are muted with minimal body roll in corners. Overall, the CLS exudes confidence from behind the wheel and is as nice to drive as it is to look at.
If you choose the $2,800 “Driver Assistance Package,” the CLS 400 comes with a lane keep system, blind-spot warning system and adaptive cruise control. The lane keep feature even steers the car for you to ensure you stay in your lane and out of danger. You may be tempted to take your hands off the wheel, but the system will turn off if you don’t provide any steering input for about 30 seconds. The package also adds Mercedes’ automatic braking systems that can anticipate a crash and pre-load the brakes to lessen its impact.
The CLS starts at $66,915 after destination. At that price you get 14-way power adjustable heated leather seats, ambient lighting, navigation, dual zone automatic climate control and a forward collision prevention system. Our tester with all-wheel drive, heated steering wheel, rear-view camera, advanced driver assistance package and those fancy massage seats costs $77,415, which is roughly a $7,000 premium over a similarly equipped E 400 4Matic.
The new engine is powerful and responsive, while the looks of the car just can’t be beat. Simply put, the CLS is the first and last word in four-door luxury coupes.