Ah I’d almost forgotten the simple pleasure of getting in to a car with a long road ahead with ample fuel for the journey. Throw in to the mix a premium cabin and the rare enough opportunity to play your own music through a good sound system and the combination is very satisfying… this week we’re testing the refreshed Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door coupe.
I’ve always seen the CLS as a Mercedes driver’s last hurrah before they throw in the towel and get an S Class. Its a car that is great to look at, fun to drive and rare enough to catch nods of approval from most onlookers and has been doing so since its introduction in 2004. The latest CLS, built on the E class platform, has sharper looks thanks to a few exterior tweaks like its new grille and bumpers. On the open road you can celebrate a low slung car and be grateful of its aerodynamic properties next to a blocky SUV. The four door handles windy weather better too as it is less susceptible to crosswinds. In heavy traffic or on rural roads where vision is at a premium the higher driving position of an SUV is preferable for safety reasons and the Saloon car will always lose out – contributing to its slow demise. But wait a second just look at the CLS and its sculpted form, it is a handsome, indulgent beast.
In the coupe’s cabin there are new materials, colour combinations, trims and of course comfortable seating for four adults. Up front the driver gets a well crafted dashboard with elegant mood lighting that highlights a truly premium feeling and a new steering wheel with a host of controls on it. One caveat, the new steering wheel touch controls for the sub menus right and left are too fiddly to use and in a non-premium way drew my attention to how poor they work in reality. This is at odds with other MBs I’ve tested so maybe it was my problem that could be solved by digging deeper in to the car’s setting but to be honest I shouldn’t need too. As I always say premium should be effortless and never draw attention to itself.
On the road the 220d’s four cylinder engine was seldom heard above the acceptable levels of tyre/road noise. power from the 2 litre is adequate with 194hp and 400nm of torque that delivers smooth power. Only on start up and in stop start situations did the unit remind you of how whisper quiet EVs are relative to internal combustion engines. Mercedes-Benz cars, perhaps more than any other brand, influence how you drive. It’s as if each model is a stage hypnotist and makes you drive a certain way. A performance Mercedes will encourage enthusiastic driving while the vast majority will simply encourage you to waft along with no rush. That said the 220d (the slowest CLS in the range) can hustle from 0-100km in a mere 7.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 237km/h.
On one particular long run (to a motoring event) the CLS subliminally suggested I take a more scenic, less busy, motorway route. I was never happier to set the cruise control to the limit or at times below to simply enjoy the ’me’ time. My lane discipline along the route was exemplary. The fact the car sipped fuel the entire route, in truth the fuel gauge barely moved, was secondary and merely a bonus. Mercedes quote a WLTP average fuel consumption of 5.5-6.4 L/100km. The CLS proves a modern diesel is still extremely economical when used as intended. I arrived at my destination refreshed and parked up next to more than a few EVs. Later, I spent a disproportionate amount of time talking to fellow journalists about how wonderful it can be not to have to worry about range anxiety!
CLS pricing in Ireland starts from €83,090 (220d Design-Line). Two petrol and three diesel models make top the range and of course there are performance AMG versions too. Right now we are on the cusp of a seismic shift to electrification but while diesel’s days are number we can still praise the CLS, a analog car in a digital world.