The Mercedes-Benz CLS established the “four-door coupe” genre in 2006, eventually inspiring imitators like the Volkswagen CC, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Audi A7. While the sleek shape erodes some of the practicality associated with a typical four-door, the success of the CLS reinforces a simple truth: people want beautiful cars. Mechanically, the CLS is a reskinned E-class with high-end equipment, but in terms of packaging it is a very different car. The CLS is about three inches longer and two inches lower than the E-class, and the sweeping roofline creates a more intimate cabin. The top of the windshield sits closer to passengers and the center console stretches between the rear seats, making the CLS strictly a four-seater. Optional active parking assist steers the CLS into parallel parking spots as the driver controls the throttle and brakes. A twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 good for 402 hp powers the base CLS550. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is standard in the CLS550 4Matic. The CLS63 AMG uses the new 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 to produce 518 hp and 4.4-second runs to 60 mph. The AMG car also incorporates start-stop technology to eliminate fuel consumption when stopped at traffic lights. Every CLS is equipped with Mercedes’ Airmatic suspension and a well-mannered seven-speed automatic transmission. It all adds up to a creamy, polished, and poised car. Factor in the beautiful body of this posh cruiser, and it’s easy to see why the CLS sells for $12,000 more than the E-class that it’s based on.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: CLS550, CLS550 4Matic, CLS63 AMG
Body style: Sedan, 4-passenger
Engines: 4.6L twin-turbo V-8, 402 hp, 443 lb-ft
5.5L twin-turbo V-8, 518/550 hp, 516/590 lb-ft
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 104.3 cu ft
Cargo space: 15.3 cu ft
A Mercedes-Benz’s rakish sedan enters its second generation for 2012 with a redesign that introduces more masculine styling, electric power steering, optional all-wheel drive, and two new eight-cylinder engines. The new styling showcases a flatter beltline, a more upright fascia, and chiseled shoulders, yet the CLS maintains sensuous proportions that give it elegance and grace.
Standard equipment includes ABS; front, side, front pelvis and knee, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; drowsiness alert; and traction and stability control. Adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation, a rearview camera, night vision, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and rear side air bags are optional.
All: 16-17 mpg city/25-26 mpg highway
- Sensuous looks
- Pleasant yet powerful
- Loads of technology available
- Smallish rear seats
- No six-cylinder option
- Seats only four
The sensual sedan.
- Audi A7
- BMW 550i GT
- Jaguar XJ
- Maserati Quattroporte