Mercedes puts a diesel engine in its design icon, the CLS. We take it for a spin to see if the engine matches the sensuous looks.
The Mercedes CLS is a product that appeals to the heart. After all, there’s no logical reason for the existence of a four-door coupe – other than the fact that it’s a study in design. Well, another reason could be that it makes even fat, bald, and old men like me look good when we’re driving one. It is actually that good. Wherever I went in our Cavansite Blue CLS test car, it turned heads.
Personally, I think the last-generation CLS was a better design. The current model isn’t exactly bad to look at though. The swooping roofline, vast front end, and the drooping rear are styling elements that combine to make the car look terrific.
And it gets better when you step inside. The interiors are truly a stunning place to spend time in when stuck in traffic, or even when on long journeys. The quality of the leather, the lovely matt finished wood, and the stately interior design are definite highlights of the car. And adding to the appeal is the long standard equipment list, which includes a 14-speaker Harman Kardon music system that’s very impressive indeed. Also standard are eight airbags, along with the usual bevy of safety technology – including ABS, ESP, and more. If you’re looking for practicality, though, I would suggest something more mainstream. The centre console runs the entire length of the cabin, and effectively turns the CLS into a four-seater. The good thing is that headroom, despite the swooping roofline, is actually quite good. In fact, as a place for serenity and comfort, the cabin of the CLS could rival the best spas in the country.
The CLS 250 that we tested comes fitted with Mercedes’ 2.2-litre diesel engine – which, in this state of tune, produces 201bhp and 500Nm of torque, paired with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. It also comes fitted as standard with AIRMATIC air suspension, which offers excellent ride quality. And given that it has just over 200bhp, the CLS is quite nice for everyday driving. During spirited sprints, however, the tone of engine gets mildly gruff. And while this engine moves a C-Class quite nicely down the road, in a CLS you do expect a little more power and refinement. Clearly, this isn’t a sports car then!
But it isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be extremely comfortable and stylish in equal measure. And the suspension is the highlight here. Even on our roads, the CLS always retains its composure. The ride is not only comfortable, but also unflappable. And this adds to the appeal to the car to no end. The steering is also insulated, but lifeless. The steering-mounted paddles are useful, but a little on the lazy side.
There are some additional goodies on this car as well though. It gets LED headlamps as standard. And while these are truly brilliant, as they light up the road incredibly well, I hate driving test cars fitted with them. The reason for that is very simple – when the car is returned and I have to go back to driving more meagre machines fitted with regular headlamps, or even xenons, it’s hard to take that step back into relative poverty. The CLS also has a 360-degree camera fitted as standard, which makes parking and manoeuvring this quite sizable machine an easy task.
The CLS will never be a volume seller – it’s targeted at a niche customer after all. The buyer of a CLS is someone who’s acutely aware of design. He or she will also be well aware of the statement that a car such as this makes. After all, it does confer a subliminal tag of ‘connoisseur’ to its owner. The CLS, then, will never be the logical choice. Objectively, this car has no place in the market. It exists purely on the basis of design and aesthetics. And if you look at it like that, then the fact that its performance doesn’t make your hair stand on end doesn’t really matter.
The key to the CLS is the fact that it makes you look good. When you drive a CLS, people look at you with an underlying reverence. I would buy one purely for the fact that it makes me visually tolerable. One change though, I’d have mine fitted with 19-inch wheels.
- Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI
Power: 201bhp @ 3,800rpm
Torque: 500Nm @1,600-1,800rpm
Transmission: 7G-Tronic plus
Price: Rs. 76.5 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)