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In-depth reviews

Mercedes CLS review - Engines, performance and drive

Elegant, comfortable and quick, the CLS is a relaxing cruiser, but don’t expect much fun behind the wheel

The CLS might look sleeker and sportier than an E-Class saloon but that doesn’t necessarily make it more engaging to drive. As the cars share the same platform there are many similarities to how they both feel behind the wheel – mainly the experience proves relaxing and comfortable.

To get the best out of the CLS you have to take it easy; it’s a large, heavy car and doesn’t manage its weight particularly well if you begin to drive quickly though corners. It’s best to set the car in its softest setting let the air suspension take the edge off rutted roads and the powerful engine propel you along effortlessly. 

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The CLS 450 is the most powerful of the standard models (the AMG 53 tops the range) using a 362bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. Clever 48v mild hybrid tech is also incorporated, which adds 22bhp and 250Nm of torque to boost performance under hard acceleration.

Although the petrols are quicker on paper, the diesel models feel just as quick on the road thanks to their superior torque output. The steering on all variants is quite vague and light, and while that doesn’t do anything to improve the car’s sporty nature, it does add to the sense of refinement and luxury. 

Three driving modes Comfort, Sport and Sport+ alter the engine response, steering weight and ride quality. In a car which is all about luxury it seems a bit unnecessary and alloy wheels which start at 19 inches means the ride can be a little firm at times. 

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The quickest model in the CLS range is the AMG 53. Its 429bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine is capable of firing it from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. However, the CLS 450 isn’t too far behind, its 362bhp motor covers the same benchmark sprint in 4.9 seconds. 

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Four-cylinder diesel engines are expected to arrive in the CLS next year, but for now the diesel range is made up of punchy six-cylinder motors. The 350d and 400d use the same 3.0-litre engine but produce 282bhp and 335bhp respectively. That translates to 0-62mph times of 5.7 and 5.0 seconds. All models are limited to a155mph top speed. 

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    CLS 300d AMG Line 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £50,090

Most Economical

  • Name
    CLS 300d AMG Line 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £50,090

Fastest

  • Name
    CLS 450 4Matic AMG Line Premium Plus 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £62,555
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