Some niche vehicles work from the off and some don’t. In 2005 Mercedes-Benz had experience of both. The R class was launched in 2005 and was marketed as a people carrier with luxury, but I spot an oxymoron. Can you have luxury and carry a mass of people? Even though First Class on a BA 747 is impressive, those people who sit right at the front would much rather be sat in a smaller Gulfstream. The R Class even had four wheel drive like an SUV, but the crucial point was that it didn’t look like it did. Mercedes persisted and it underwent a number of revisions, but it just didn’t hit home. It’s sister the ML sold well, seating 5, as did the larger sister, the GL seating 7. But the R? It seated 6 but who wanted it?
Around the same time the original Mercedes CLS was launched to a totally unprepared public. It looked beautiful but it had 4 doors. A coupe with 4 doors? How did that work? Somehow it just did.
If imitation is the best form of flattery then the CLS deserved to have a pretty big ego. The 4-door coupe has since appeared as a Jaguar, an Audi and BMW will shortly unveil the 4 door 6 Series Gran Coupe. Indeed, without the CLS would the X6 ever have existed?
But, in the car industry all things need to be updated and at the Paris Motor Show last October Mercedes launched the second generation CLS. It’s being previewed at a Mercedes garage near you right now.
Its no secret that the CLS is based on the E Class, and when that was updated in 2009 the new edgy Mercedes styling made the CLS look a little dated. However, Mercedes haven’t taken a short cut in designing the CLS. Not only does it have a completely new body around E Class mechanicals, but it also has a completely new interior. The E Class dashboard is a quite vertical wall of buttons, but the CLS is more in keeping with the S Class, which is no bad thing in having a wrap around dash and dial to control the COMAND system.
The front carries a large central Mercedes star as a variation of that on the SLS AMG to maintain the corporate look.
The engines range from the new 2.1 litre 4 cylinder diesel in the 250 CDI up to the 5.5 litre AMG V8. The 250 CDI produces 204 bhp and delivers a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a combined 54.3 mpg. The AMG V8 petrol engine produces 525 bhp and goes from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds with a combined 28.5mpg. Although the most popular model in the UK is likely to be the 250 CDI the best trade off in terms of economy and performance is probably the 350CDI with a 0-62mph of 6.2 seconds and a combined economy of 46.3mpg. All but the AMG model uses the ‘BlueEFFICIENCY’ title. This is Mercedes version of BMW’s ‘Efficient Dynamics’ and is their approach to optimizing their vehicles for lower emissions and reduced fuel consumption.
The CLS is the first automatic Mercedes with ‘Auto StartStop’. If you haven’t driven a car with this technology yet then I recommend that you do. The experience initially is weird, when the adrenaline kicks in as you think your car has broken down at the traffic lights. But once you take your foot off the brake and move onto the accelerator the engine starts again almost instantaneously. It’s great.
The CLS starts at £46,355 for the 250 CDI and goes up to £80,605 for the AMG version. Then of course you’ll start ticking the option boxes!