2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

CLS550 RWD 4-Dr Sedan V8 auto trans

2012 mercedes-benz cls-class Reviews and News

2012 Mercedes Benz Cls550 Front Left Side View
A colleague once told me that he never writes about a car's styling, because appearance is so subjective -- who cares if one person hates a car's styling if someone else likes it? Or vice versa. But it's pretty much impossible to talk about the Mercedes-Benz CLS without broaching the subject of looks. After all, the unique exterior design is this car's entire reason for being.
2012 Mercedes Benz Cls550 Front Left View
The CLS debuted 6 years ago, as an alternative-bodied version of the E-class. Its swoopy lines had it maker calling it a "four-door coupe," but of course it's really a four-door sedan with more radical bodywork. At first, in pictures, I thought the CLS looked like an E-class that had melted in the sun. But seeing in person, I found it to be rather striking. But again, my opinion doesn't matter; what does matter is that 63,000 people liked the styling enough to buy a CLS, and they paid a hefty premium over a mechanically identical E-class. That mattered a lot to Mercedes' bottom line.
So the idea was a success. Now comes an all-new version. The formula is the same, but the look is entirely different.
Again, the CLS is longer and lower than an E-class. It stretches an additional 3 inches in length and is about 2 inches shorter, while riding on the same, 113-inch wheelbase. As before, the CLS borrows the E-class's two top engines, skipping the V-6 and the diesel. That means it gets the 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 making 402 hp, for the CLS550. The CLS63 uses AMG's 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, good for 518 hp, or 550 hp with the optional performance package. (That same engine is found under the hood of the 2012 E63, replacing the 2011 model's normally aspirated 6.2-liter.) Previously, the CLS was only available with rear-wheel drive, but the CLS550 now can be had with Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which is standard on the E550.
Because the cars are mechanically identical, the CLS drives with the same creamy smoothness as the E-class. The V-8 has a subtle, deep-throated burble, but only when provoked. Roll into the throttle and it shoots this sedan forward (60 mph comes up in 5.1 seconds); but it's lively without being jumpy. The seven-speed automatic is a polished performer. The steering is very precise and nicely weighted, but there's a bit too much variation in the ratios -- it quickens too much at parking-lot speeds.
The CLS comes standard with Mercedes' Airmatic suspension (as does the E550), and it offers a choice between comfort and sport settings. Given that my CLS550 test car was riding on the optional 19-inch wheels (eighteens are standard) shod with ultra-low-profile 35- and 30-series tires, the air suspension was able to deliver pretty decent ride quality. The comfort setting, though, is the way to go with these tires, and even it couldn't mask the sharp impact of, say, a raised manhole cover.
While the CLS has the same running gear as an equivalent E-class, there are compromises that result from the rakish bodywork, and we're not talking about the extra $17,000 demanded by your smiling local dealer. The trade-off is apparent as soon as you swing open the small doors (with frameless side glass) and slip inside. The top of the windshield is much closer than in an E-class, creating a more intimate environment. In back, a full-length console bisects the rear seat, making the CLS strictly a four-person conveyance. The space in back is adequate for adults, but you can see why the E-class doesn't look like this. For one thing, this car could never be a taxi in Frankfurt.
In the end, the CLS design either speaks to you or it doesn't. In a day when many mainstream luxury sedans, the E-class included, seem to blend into traffic, paying a little extra for true head-turning style and greater exclusivity makes some sense. It's the same principle that in another day had luxury-car buyers commissioning custom-designed bodies for their Packards, Duesenbergs, Cadillacs, and, yes, Mercedes. Does this car's custom look justify its premium over an E-class? It's a question you have to ask yourself.
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550
Base price (with destination): $71,175
Price as tested: $80,405
Standard Equipment:
402-hp V-8
7-speed automatic transmission
Airmatic semi-active suspension
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Power windows, door locks, mirrors
Comand system w/40-GB hard-drive navigation, Bluetooth, voice control, and 7-inch display
Harman/kardon 14-speaker surround-sound audio system w/memory-card slot and aux input
Power sunroof
Attention-assist driver drowsiness monitor
Leather interior w/ wood trim
14-way power adjustable front seats
Auto-dimming mirrors
18-inch wheels
Multi-color interior ambient lighting
Options on this vehicle:
P01 Package -- $4390
- iPod/MP3 interface
- Backup camera
- Heated and active ventilated front seats
- Power rear-window sunshade
- Adaptive highbeam assist
- Full-LED headlamps
- Power trunk closer
- Keyless ignition
Lane Tracking Package -- $850
- Blind spot assist
- Lane-keeping assist
Parktronic -- $970
Split-folding rear seats -- $440
Rear side airbags -- $420
Active multcontour driver seat -- $660
19-inch, 5-spoke wheels w/high-performance tires -- $500
Key options not on vehicle:
Night view assist plus
Fuel economy:
17 / 26 mpg
4.7L V-8
Horsepower: 402 hp @ 5000-5750 rpm
Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 1800-4750 rpm
7-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4158 lb
Wheels/tires: Pirelli P-Zero
255/35 R19 front
285/30 R19 rear
Competitors: Audi A7, BMW 5-series Gran Turismo, Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte
2012 Mercdes Benz CLS63 AMG Promo
With any new Mercedes-Benz comes, sooner or later, the inevitable AMG version, some of which seem appropriate and some gratuitous. We count the new, second-generation CLS four-door coupe among the former. Like the CLS on which it's based, the 2012 CLS63 AMG re-interprets its predecessor's restrained lines with a more expansive, aggressive approach. The snout draws from the gull-winged SLS, and a steep windshield flows into an arching roofline, meeting a muscular rear haunch that culminates in a tail with deep overhangs. The look is husky and mean, offering more gravitas than its delicate looking progenitor.
2012 Mercdes Benz CLS63 AMG Front Three Quarters In Motion
The hand-built AMG powerplant has been downsized to 5461 cc, but the V-8 gains twin turbos, yielding bumps in horsepower and torque-518 hp and 516 lb-ft, or 550 hp and 590 lb-ft with the optional performance package. Turn a blind eye to the curiously stubborn 6.3 designation-which was never quite right anyway, since its naturally aspirated predecessor displaced 6208 cc-and it's hard to find fault in the new powerplant, which manages a 32 percent gain in fuel economy. EPA figures of 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway help the smaller motor dodge a $3000 gas guzzler tax, aided in part by a stop/start system that shuts off the engine when stationary.
The CLS63 still feels intimate and-well, coupelike inside, though there's more space than you might expect for such a rakish silhouette. Nestled in the rear seat, a five-foot, eleven-inch person fits comfortably below the roofline, with sufficient legroom to allow a relaxed posture. Piano black details meet touchstones like burled walnut trim and an IWC timepiece that's a nod to Art Deco glamour. The performance package gains edgier exterior details, carbon fiber interior panels, and a steering wheel partially wrapped in Alcantara, as well as the power-enhanced engine and carbon ceramic brakes.
Though acceleration is appropriately willing under light throttle, a stab of the gas punches this 4114-lb car through space with tenacity, good for 0-to-60-mph jaunts in a claimed 4.4 seconds, or 4.3 ticks with the performance package. In contrast to the standard issue CLS, the CLS63's seven-speed transmission ditches a torque converter for a wet startup clutch, and shifts occur smoothly and swiftly, with extra alacrity and added steering stiffness when you click from "C" (comfort) to "S" (sport), S+, or M (manual.) Ride quality is firm and sometimes jarring, getting stiffer with more aggressive settings. But high entry speeds are rewarded with surprising feedback from the electromechanical steering, making this sixteen-foot car feel taut and nimble on tight roads. The "AMG" button amps up everything from shift times to suspension damping, offering downshifts that are seemingly prescient and shotgun-quick. Though not quite as aurally expressive as the normally aspirated 6.2-liter engine, the new twin-turbo nonetheless grunts and growls and snorts between shifts.
2012 Mercdes Benz CLS63 AMG Front Three Quarter
The engine's stop/start feature only activates in "C" mode, and sudden throttle can produce abrupt lurches from a standstill; it's best to ditch Eco mode if you prefer quick, smooth getaways. While our performance package-equipped tester may have felt incrementally quicker (or was our interior dynamometer simply drunk on horsepower?), its massive carbon ceramic brakes definitely added a more dramatic bite to deceleration, as though all four tires were digging in like cleats on Astroturf.
Bulked up but not brawned out, the 2012 CLS63 offers an appreciable improvement in speed, fuel economy, and, arguably, styling over its antecedent. The first-generation CLS apparently needed time for consumers to become accustomed to its then-radical shape, as it had its best sales in 2010, its last full year on the market. Based on our drives of both the regular CLS and the new CLS63, both of which hit dealers in June, it seems that Mercedes-Benz has another hit on its hands-long adoption curve, or not.
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
On sale: June
Price: (estimated) $100,000
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8, 518/550 hp, 516/590 lb-ft
Drive: rear-wheel
2012 Mercedes Benz CLS550 Promo
The Big Lancia racing TOWARD US flashed its lights furiously as we hustled through Firenzuola, just north of the famed Futa Pass on the route of the Mille Miglia. Was there a cop ahead? Do they do that in Europe -- flash their lights for cops? Then again, I was at the wheel of a 2012 CLS550, the second generation of the swoopiest four-door Mercedes-Benz ever built. That first CLS-which debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt motor show and went into production a year later-has sold more than 170,000 copies worldwide. Some 64 percent of its European buyers chose it, Mercedes says, because of its stunning good looks, and it spawned a number of luxury four-door-coupe competitors, including the radical Audi A7. It was just as likely that Mr. Lancia was flashing his recognition of the rare 2012 CLS sighting (it goes on sale in January in Europe, summer in the States). The three-pointed star adorning the CLS's massive grille is the size of a gladiator's belt buckle. It makes for an impressive face, one you can neither miss nor fail to recognize. Flash-flash, indeed.
2012 Mercedes Benz CLS550 Rear Three Quarters In Motion
Elegant simplicity has given way to a tougher aesthetic for round two. The long sides of the CLS are sharply sculpted and flow into tightly coiled haunches-the work of American-born, Art Center College-trained, Korean designer Hubert Lee, 37, the head of M-B's California advanced design studio. Wraparound LED taillamps are a beautiful high-tech link from sleek side to broad rear. Obsessive aero work helped deliver a Cd of 0.26-a phenomenal improvement of 13 percent. Dimensionally, the new CLS is longer (plus 0.9 inch), lower (by 0.2 inch), and wider (plus 0.4 inch), with more elbow and shoulder room front and rear and a wheelbase that's 0.8 inch longer.
The interior is exquisitely executed and trimmed in full leather and burl walnut or black ash. The rear seats are sculpted for two and now offer split/fold functionality. Pampering is on a very high level to save you time and money checking option boxes, so you can count on a killer hi-def sound system, navigation, and lots of electronic assistance. Of the five bundled option packages, Premium 1 (price TBD) has all the most popular luxuries, including a rearview camera, heated/ventilated seats, iPod/MP3 interface, and the lovely electronic trunk closer. The best option by far on that long list, though, are active LED headlamps, a world first. These are the slickest all-singing, all-dancing lamps you've ever seen, with every adaptive lighting function you can imagine being provided by LEDs: they bend in turns, swivel to look ahead when you turn onto side roads, automatically dip the high beams for oncoming traffic-but only on the left side so you can still see to your right. Even the infrared night view is powered by LEDs, which last five times longer than xenon lamps, are easier to design with, and provide visibility akin to daylight. Miraculous!
Active Park Assist is another new CLS feature, but we are more impressed by drivers who can parallel-park themselves in one smooth move.
2012 Mercedes Benz CLS550 Front Three Quarters In Motion
European CLS buyers will choose from a menu of new engines to pair with the improved seven-speed automatic transmission, all with higher output and lower fuel consumption, including two V-6s (one gas and one diesel CLS350); the first four-cylinder diesel for this car (CLS250 CDI); and a third-generation, direct-injected 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 (CLS500). That engine, sans the start/stop function standard on all European models, is the only one coming to America (where the model will be called the CLS550) and will produce 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. This means it can slam into its paltry 130-mph electronically limited top speed in a hurry. And if it should slam into something more substantial, the CLS550 is packing no fewer than twelve air bags.
This was less of a joke to a couple of Aussie journalists, who each encountered the dark side of the new optional Active Lane Keeping Assist (one of twelve "intelligent" driver-assist electronic aids on the CLS equipment list) on our Tuscan drive route. One of the Aussies tried to move right to avoid an oncoming car, and the CLS suddenly jerked back into the lane. He forced it back right and missed a collision. His buddy did the same thing when a motorcycle was pulling past him from behind. The CLS jerked hard left, forcing the bike to make a quick evasive move. One engineer explained that if you use your turn signal during these emergency moves, it will cancel the Lane Keeping action. Another said the best idea is to turn off that function when you are on two-lane roads. Not such a good thing when your smart system counts on the driver being smart, too. But it did give both Aussies an opportunity to admire the brand-new electromechanical power steering, which, incidentally, works even with the engine off. Still, you can save a few bucks skipping Lane Keeping Assist altogether. Save it for the 4Matic, which will be available shortly after launch.
Mercedes-Benz CLS550
On sale: Mid-2011
Price: $75,000 (est.)
ENGINE: 4.7L twin-turbo V-8, 402 hp, 443 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear- or 4-wheel
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
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.
2012 Mercedes Benz CLS550 4MATIC Front Three Quarter
The latest Mercedes-Benz CLS is very true to the original's design, and that is a great thing. The menacing front end keeps it from looking too soft, which is also good. The design is very distinctive, but one unexpected annoyance caused by the car's appearance is the fact that the rear doors are extremely long, such that you must be very careful opening them lest you bump them into another car. The CLS also inflicted pain because of the hunched-over positioning required to install a pair of child seats. Fortunately, I wasn't uncomfortable with the rear roofline when I sat back there (I'm 5'6").

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 4MATIC

2013 Mercedes Benz CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake Front
We already got a look at the all-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake two weeks ago, but now enthusiasts really have something to salivate over: the 2013 CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake, complete with rear-wheel drive, wagon-like space, and up to 557 hp.
Mercedes Benz CLS Shooting Brake Side View
Following the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake concept’s debut at the 2012 Beijing auto show, the automaker announced plans to actually build a version of the stylish yet practical four-door. Now the automaker has released details on the production version of the CLS Shooting Brake, which isn’t planned for the U.S. market.
Mercedes Benz CLS Golden For 65th Palme DOr
Mercedes-Benz and AMG will display a gold Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG 45th Anniversary at the Cannes International Film Festival to celebrate the 65th Palme d’Or (Golden Palm). A variety of Mercedes and AMG vehicles painted gold will be on hand for shuttle service to different festival events.
1937 Mercedes Benz Type 320 Cabriolet B Front View With Jessi Lang
This week’s episode of Wide Open Throttle is all about Mercedes-Benz, as host Jessi Lang gets an in-depth look at a rare car in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center’s collection and gets artsy at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles with the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe. To start things off, Lang first gives us a walk-around of a 1937 Type 320 Cabriolet B, one of the many cars restored by the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California. This executive touring car was originally available in two wheelbase lengths and came powered by a six-cylinder engine. The car sported modern features like an independent coil-spring suspension and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. This particular cabriolet is for sale and can be yours for just $595,000 – perhaps not an outrageous amount when you consider the 75-year-old classic’s immaculate restoration and roughly 40,200-mile odometer reading. Next, Lang jets across town to take a look at the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe on display at MOCA. Mixed in with a variety of interesting exhibits chosen by curator Mike D of the Beastie Boys, the Mercedes concept is integrated into an art piece that synchronizes music with lights. While the concept is presented as part of a piece of art, it previews an actual production car on the way from the German automaker. Expected to be called the CLA, the upcoming CLS-inspired four-door coupe will share underpinnings -- and likely drivetrain options -- with the new A-Class. Lang goes on to talk about what the car might mean for Mercedes’ future success. Hear what she has to say in the video below.

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2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
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2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Specifications

Quick Glance:
4.7L V8Engine
Fuel economy City:
17 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
25 MPG
402 hp @ 5000rpm
443 ft lb of torque @ 1600rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer
  • DVD
  • Navigation
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
Unlimited miles / 999 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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5-Year Total Cost to Own For The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

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Five Year Cost of Ownership: $66,067 What's This?
Value Rating: Average