by John Tallodi
The German automotive big three have become masters at creating new niches to cater for just about any motoring itch and the original CLS started the four-door coupe trend that has proved very popular in the luxury executive sector.
The current CLS has been around for some years now but regular updates have helped keep it in the running against the newer opposition. That said, not much has changed for 2018 other than a rationalizing of the range down to one model and some new trim options.
The CLS-Class offers the same luxurious interior as the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range, even the minor controls are quality items and material quality is excellent. It is however showing its age compared to the latest models from within its own stable as well as its competitors. The infotainment system is one generation behind the latest Mercedes-Benz models although it offers most of the latest technologies and functions well enough.
The front seats offer good support and are perfect for long-distance drives, leg and headroom is generous although the sloping rear screen does make for a far cozier rear seating experience. A central console separates the two rear occupants and while comfort is good you may get complaints from taller adults about head and leg room. The trunk is a decent size although split-folding rear seats are not standard which seems penny-pinching at this level.
Possessing the same basic underpinnings as the previous generation E-Class, the CLS has been tweaked to offer a sportier drive and despite its hefty curb weight is quite adept at doing the dynamic driving thing if required. The controls have a satisfying heft to their responses and the adaptive suspension ensures that the ride quality remains smooth when you are not in the mood to leave your tires smeared across the pavement.
The 2017 CLS 550 is equipped with a big 4.7-liter V8, with the aid of a turbocharger it pumps out 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque channeled through a 9-speed automatic transmission. You can choose between a rear-wheel drive or 4Matic four-wheel drive model, both hit 60 mph in a claimed 4.9-seconds.
That is a level of performance that was the preserve of AMG models not that long ago and this CLS 550 keeps you pinned to your seat well into license losing speeds. Rear-wheel drive models return an average of 21 mpg while 4Matic versions drop down to 20 mpg. Not stellar results but reasonable considering the 402 hp on offer.
The CLS 500 comes packed with equipment as befits its luxury aspirations and key standard features include heated 14-way power front seats, adjustable ambient lighting, 8-inch infotainment system incorporating navigation and Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity.
LED daytime running lights, adaptive air suspension, rearview camera and collision prevention assist are also standard. With 14 exterior color options, 6 alloy wheel styles, 11 leather colors and 5 interior trim accents there is a lot of scope to customize your CLS to your tastes.
Advanced safety systems are taken care of by a Lane Tracking Package (Blind spot and lane keeping assist), Driver Assistance Package (active blind spot and active lane keeping assistant, cross-traffic assist, pre-safe plus and distronic plus with steering assist) and the Parking Assist Package (Parktronic active parking assist, surround view system).
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz CLS is a big and brutish luxury four-door coupe that provides crushing performance and a cosseting ride all in one stylish package. It is getting on a bit now and while its dynamics are still superb, the interior design and infotainment system lag behind its newer rivals. As does the rear passenger space.
Advanced standard and available options do keep the CLS in the running though and its driving dynamics still hold up well against the competition.