New CLS: Segment Pioneer Gets Sharper

New CLS: Segment Pioneer Gets Sharper

The genre that is the four-door coupé remains enchanting, and has done well for the brands dabbling in this segment. A perfect example is perhaps the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé, although its arch-enemy, the Mercedes-Benz CLS, deserves to be acknowledged, because it was essentially the pioneer in this segment.

CLS 2 - Ignition Live

The first generation of Mercedes’s four-door coupé, the CLS 55 AMG, unveiled in 2004, was something to behold, and caught the imagination of buyers who wanted a visceral driving experience to go with the visual venom on offer. In 2011, Mercedes-Benz introduced the second generation of the model, which some felt lost a bit of the styling of the original four-door coupé. Nonetheless, it improved on the original model’s technology, performance and sportiness. In fact, it has sold some 4 400 units locally since 2011.

CLS 3 - Ignition Live

Those LED-encrusted headlights made the thing stand out. Three years on and the model has gone under the knife — and the scalpel seems to have carved a much sharper face. The grille, for instance, takes on the dual-slat theme seen on the updated E-Class range, while LED headlights, which are optional items exclusively in the CLS 500 and CLS 63 AMG S, feature a multibeam system that is adaptive, similar to Audi’s LED matrix headlights, which automatically adapt the beam to road conditions.

CLS 4 - Ignition Live

For instance, you can drive in high-beam mode at night, and the headlights will automatically adjust so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic. It works a treat, I might add. Cabin updates include a three-spoke steering wheel similar to the one in the C-Class, and an 8-inch tablet-like infotainment screen. The rest of the architecture remains the same, which is not a bad thing, because there was very little wrong to begin with. However, I did find the drop-down interface a tad out of place and dated: a company spokesman said the new interface — similar to that in the C and S-Class — would only be fitted in the next generation. Some of the other updates are substantial, such as new engines.

CLS 6 - Ignition Live

For example, the new diesel engine in the CLS350 Bluetec pushes out 190kW and 620Nm through a new nine-speed automatic gearbox. In my view, this is a great move by the company, because now the car competes directly with the Audi 3.0-litre TDI and BMW 640d. It is also a bit more refined than the CLS250 CDI. There is also the new CLS400 powered by a 3.0-litre Biturbo V6 petrol engine, which has 245kW, 480Nm and a seven-speed automatic transmission. I was impressed by this petrol engine, and feel that it will add volume to the range.

CLS 5 - Ignition Live

It replaces the normally aspirated 3.5-litre V6, which couldn’t match its turbocharged rivals. For those lusting after V8 power, the CLS500, with its 4.7-litre Biturbo V8 — pro- ducing 300kW and 700Nm — remains, but now has a nine- speed automatic transmission. This is perhaps the most underrated model in the range. For those with a penchant for even more power, the CLS63 AMG S musters 430kW, 800Nm of torque and a seven-speed MCT speed- shift transmission. According to Selwyn Govender of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, the variant will be available only in this S specification.

CLS 8 - Ignition Live

Sadly, station wagons are not popular in this country, so Mercedes-Benz has stopped importing the Shooting Brake variant. That said, however, the expansion of the coupé range means that Mercedes can now compete on equal foot- ing with the Audi A7 Sport- back and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé. The models will appeal to a sliver of discerning buyers looking for something stylish, yet practical enough to accommodate the family’s travelling needs with ease.

CLS 250 CDI: R760 000
CLS 350 BlueTec: R893 000
CLS 400: R888 000
CLS 500: R1 120 000
CLS 63 AMG S: R1 600 000

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