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Review: Mercedes-Benz CLS 350

Driven September 2014

Review: Mercedes-Benz CLS 350

The CLS is among the most beautiful contemporary Mercedes-Benzes. It was thought up well over a decade ago, at a time when the term ‘four-door coupe’ was something we never imagined would take birth. At that time, both the A-Class as well as the CLA were yet to be conceived. Yet, today, if you park the CLS next to them, you can see how both these cars have taken inspiration from Mercedes’ first shot at building a coupe that could ferry four people in reasonable comfort. This is the W218, the car that replaced the original W219, but even this one holds its own against current Mercedes stars.

Mercedes launched the extensively refreshed CLS in Europe a few weeks ago, and, when we heard about it coming to India, we were excited. The new car, with its diamond grille, sharp creases and squat stance, is a looker. But, sadly, that’s not what India is getting. At least, not yet.

The ‘new’ CLS for India gets a few upgrades on the inside and the outside vis-a-vis the model that has been on sale since 2011. There’s a new a shade of silver, new 18-inch 15-spoke alloys and, er, that’s about it. Inside the cabin, besides a new shade of leather and a few minor changes in the dashboard design, there’s also a new instrument cluster, a park assist system and an improved reverse camera. The interior fit and finish and quality of materials used is excellent, but the cabin does look slightly dated.

The lack of a diesel option under the hood severely impacted sales of the CLS, and it will continue to be a worry for Mercedes. The engine that powers the car is still the familiar 3.5-litre V6 petrol that’s good for 305bhp and 370Nm. The motor has made appearances in various Mercs over the last five years. Although it doesn’t get the new tech that other engines in the line-up are equipped with, it manages to get the job done.

The CLS delivers a supple ride, and undulations on the road will rarely bother you. The adaptive dampers let you choose between two options for the ride: Comfort and Sport. The latter offers a stiffer ride, but it’s still pretty decent. In Comfort, however, things do get slightly wallowy at times.

The CLS is a strict four-seater, though the rear seats are comfortable and a good place to be in. But very tall people will have limited headroom.

This MY2014 CLS competes directly with the Audi A7 and the BMW 6 series Gran Coupe, both of which offer diesel engine options. The Merc might not have a diesel mill, but it’s got timeless styling, and Merc has just dropped the price by a good ₹10 lakh. And, that’s bound to get some buyers very curious.

The numbers
3498cc, V6, petrol, 7A, RWD, 305bhp, 370Nm, 0-100kph: 6.32sec, top speed:  250kph (limited), ₹89.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict
The best styled four-door coupe out there. Extremely comfortable and rides well, but lack of engine options spoils the party

Agasti Kaulgi

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