Mercedes CLS 500

Mercedes great saloon gets superb V8 - and makes the AMG look irrelevant

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The CLS 500 is everything a Mercedes should be – refined, luxurious, fast and desirable. With its effortless torque and relentless acceleration, why would anyone want the more costly AMG versions instead?

Faced with spiralling motoring costs and speed camera- controlled roads, how fast does your luxury saloon really need to be? Mercedes’ AMG line-up is full of machines that can keep up with nearly any Ferrari, but you don’t have to go for a range-topper to get supercar-slaying performance.

The CLS 500 has recently been fitted with Merc’s latest 5.5-litre V8. Despite being naturally aspirated, it develops a huge 383bhp – 77bhp more than its predecessor.

From the outside, the 500 is barely distinguishable from the V6-engined 350. Yet, when the slick seven-speed transmission kicks down a couple of ratios under full throttle, you could be forgiven for thinking AMG has had a hand in the V8’s development. A near-perfect transmission and 530Nm of torque give the CLS relentless acceleration from any speed. The benchmark sprint from 0-62mph takes 5.4 seconds – that’s only 0.9 seconds slower than the AMG range-topper.

The four-door is nearly as involving to drive as BMW’s 5-Series, but it’s more than competent as a long-distance cruiser, too. And at £53,240, it’s £19,755 less than the 63 AMG model. Although it doesn’t look like a sports car, few drivers will want more pace than the CLS 500 has to offer.

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