Middleweight Magnifique

Middleweight Magnifique

The pioneer of the four-door coupe segment gets a tantalising mid-cycle refresh



Published: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 3:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Jul 2015, 10:26 AM

Mercedes-Benz

If you were once that guy or girl that drove a coupe to reflect your singular personality, and have now adopted a more mature lifestyle — tending to family or business needs — you probably think that you’ve lost a bit of the cool factor by migrating to a 4-door sedan. Trust us, you’re not alone.

Back in 2004, Mercedes-Benz identified those suffering from this condition and rescued them by introducing the pseudo-class and now popular 4-door coupe. The CLS married the sweet and slinky silhouette of a coupe with sedan practicality. Ten years on, the car is still finding homes like a cute and cuddly kitten at an adoption event. What we have today is the mid-cycle refresh of the second-generation car and here are its highs and lows. 

DESIGN & AESTHETICS

First up, no matter how Mercedes would like to advertise it, or how rumour becomes reality, this is still not a coupe, simply because it has four doors and coupes have two. It is still based on the mid-size E-Class and it is obvious from the dimensions — 4,952mm long, 2,075mm wide and a coupe-like 1,419mm tall.

This second-generation coupe has hardly aged a day, yet Merc’ boffins have chosen to give it new highlights to suit the change in season. Like the A-Class, you have the dot-matrix chrome grille that gives the illusion of floating dots, and a single-blade slat that centres around the tri-pointed star.

The frontal lighting has become very S-Class-like, with an electronically controlled headlamp system that has 24 individual LEDs in a matrix to clearly mark road surfaces and situations. Equally striking are the daytime running lamps that start off with a blue hue when you unlock the car, and then turns to the regular white. This is the stuff we pay good money for!

At the rear there is no noticeable change. The LED rear lights, rectangular exhausts and raked boot and bumper end make this a pretty piece even in the company of exclusive cars. In a nutshell, the CLS is a car to be seen for its visual drama, and for the wealth and taste it exudes — it’s crème de la cool. Particularly so with the beautifully finished propeller-style multi-spoke 19” AMG wheels, which are an enticing sight that give away speed and style in equal measure.

Even though the CLS is based on the E-class, the interior has an S-class feel about it. There is a sense of heightened luxury that comes from the space, materials and finish. There is a bounty of leather and veneer splashed across the door and dashboard. Even ergonomics — one of the cores of luxury — has been tended to by making the various elements such as controls, buttons and knobs distinctive and within reach. The polished aluminium trims help to highlight them well, too.

 Mercedes-Benz


Like many other manufacturers, Mercedes is going the tablet way, placing atop the centre console a freestanding 8” colour display. The hard buttons placed under it are flatter and don’t have the embossed look found on the previous CLS. The comfort in the front seat reaches sublime levels. Visibility is good overall, except out at the back.

First timers may feel this Merc is confusing because you’d think it looks delicate, but that isn’t the case the CLS — it’s incredibly well-built, panels are bolted on well and the surface finish — be it wood, plastic or hide — is exquisite as well as resilient. It is a quality product.

The rear has a strictly two-seat configuration, with two really deep-dug bucket seats that you need to sink into to avoid the sloping roof. A centre console that houses controls for entertainment and air-conditioning, along with cup holders, separates the seats. 

POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCEPOWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE

As base, there is a CLS 400 available, but what you really want is this CLS 500 — a pledge to power. Built into the gut of this beast is a bi-turbo 4.7L V8, and right off the line I can tell you it’s one of the best engines in the world. It’s potent, smooth, reliable, and it emits understated thunderous sounds from the exhausts. And, for the first time, the motor is hooked to a 9G-TRONIC, a 9-speed automatic with paddles. There is a lot of torque, &although the gearbox keeps hunting for the taller gears. However, the party &begins around 3,500rpm and peaks at a prodigious 600Nm of torque thanks to the blown motor. As for peak horsepower ratings, the 402 will help you outrun Mustangs, Boxsters, F-Types and other tall order fiends.

Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds, which is an &improvement over the previous 5.1 seconds, putting it in supercar territory from a decade ago. Step on the gas, be patient, and after a moment’s hesitation you feel like you’ve been shot out of a cannon. This deserves to have an AMG badge on it. If you are the power-hungry kind, the 585bhp 63 AMG is always there to tear up the tarmac for you.

Inside, it’s near-library quiet — enough to maintain a conversation at the electronically limited speed of 250km/h. The acoustic insulation is top-notch and so is the ride quality. This one came with Airmatic suspension as an option. Sure, the ride is plush and it flattens most uneven roadways, but the S-class remains a notch above.

As for handling, there is a good balance to the chassis, even after Merc grafted an engine of monumental power to a rear wheel drive configuration. You can throw it around and turn — sharp or sweeping — and it will hold its line. An added advantage is the &dynamic seats, which electronically adjust either of the side bolsters to keep you locked in your seat. It is as gimmicky as it is functional.

Even with all that performance on tap, it doesn’t cost as much you’d think to run this show-mobile. Dubai-Abu Dhabi trips will average only 6.6L/100km while city travels won’t drink more than 11.7L/100km. If your driving involves both highway and city, the company claimed figure is a very respectable 8.5L/100km — economy car territory. Equally remarkable is the CO2 emission of only 199g/km, which is possibly the smallest stain in the sky a V8 bruiser could ever produce — thanks to the stop/start system. 

FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY

FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITYDespite the sleek CLS looks, you do get plenty of space in the boot — 520L — and the wide opening bootlid is more than sufficient to hold your luggage. The rear seats don’t fold down, though.

Mercedes-Benz is known to be a pioneer in the safety arena — it was the first to introduce ABS and many other technologies. This CLS has obvious tank-like attributes about it, to keep both car and occupants out of trouble. It comes with adaptive cruise control, a speed limiter, brake assist, cross-traffic assist, blind spot and lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition that advises you on speed limits, parking sensors and a 360° surround view, aside from the rear camera. And after you’re done driving, you can let it park itself with the auto-parking feature that finds a spot for you!

Entertainment comes in the form of a 600W14-speaker Harman/Kardon Logic 7 surround system. Needless to say, it is a hoot to play out gangster rhymes and John Legend lines. It may be summer, but there is a reason to roll down the windows again.

Audio and video playback is possible from various sources — Bluetooth, AUX, SD card, USB stick or CD/DVD.

Other features include Mercedes-Benz apps such as weather, Google Maps with StreetView and even Facebook, that can be used on the move. The reins to the screen menus are through Merc’s iDrive like COMAND system that uses the rotary knob with four surrounding buttons, which, in many ways, is better than the lackadaisical touch screen input available on cars these days.  

VERDICT

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLS is good news for most folk, except for those who can’t afford the almost 400k Dh price tag. It is a statement car with well-executed coupe-like exteriors and S-Class-like interior appointments. And, on the move, the beast of a powertrain will coerce you into taking the long route home while you enjoy the company of three others, making this a near perfect example of pure motoring deliverance.  


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