When the third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class first showed its face in the USA back in 2018, we were taken aback by its bold styling and elegant form. Now, in 2021, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class 4-door sports coupe looks better than ever. It is technically a more practical E-Class and follows the same design principles as competitors like the Audi A7 and BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe. Under the sleek bodywork of the CLS-Class coupe lies a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 gas engine producing an impressive 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of to. Mercedes-Benz's electric EQ Boost system adds 21 hp and 184 lb-ft for short periods, making this a seriously punchy car. It might have a small trunk and isn't the sharpest handling, but thankfully style counts the most in this segment of the market, and the 2021 CLS-Class has that in spades.
Few things have changed for the new 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class. The previously optional 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is now standard equipment and, more importantly, the aging COMAND infotainment system has been replaced with an up-to-date feature-rich MBUX system. While this can be a little bewildering in terms of feature count, it's powerful and versatile once you've crested the learning curve. The standard specification is still slightly lacking, especially in terms of driver-assistance features, but at least the 2021 model's augmented reality adaptive cruise control now takes live traffic information into account, and the automated emergency braking system can recognize oncoming traffic.
See trim levels and configurations:
The 2021 CLS 450 Coupe is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter M256 6-cylinder engine that produces 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear-wheel drivetrain via a 9-speed automatic transmission, though there is always the option of 4Matic all-wheel drive. Performance is impressive, and the EQ Boost system all but eliminates turbo lag while adding 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque for short bursts. With all that power under the right foot, this vehicle can sprint to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, or 4.8 seconds in AWD guise, and will reach a top speed of 130 mph. Fuel economy is decent thanks to turbocharging, but the mild hybrid assistance does nothing to help.
When it comes to four-door luxury coupes, few do it better than Mercedes-Benz. The 2021 CLS-Class is, however, a flawed piece of automotive jewelry. It looks stunning from all angles and is arguably the most attractive car in its class (it's definitely better looking than the Audi A7, at least), and its interior is a stunning display of opulence, but that's pretty much where it stops. Sure, the MBUX infotainment system is lovely to use, but when you boil it down, the CLS-Class coupe is little more than a piece of art on four wheels. Both the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A7 provide a better driving experience, and there's very little trunk and rear passenger space on offer in the Merc. The 3.0-liter turbo engine does deliver good punch, but it's a shame that this great powertrain isn't backed up by an equally responsive chassis. There is no NHTSA or IIHS safety rating review of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, but as a premium German product, safety and general reliability should be good. If style is all you're after, look no further.
We'd go for the 4Matic AWD car in Cirrus Silver Metallic with the optional AMG Line package, which adds a set of 19-inch alloys, AMG interior styling, a sport steering wheel, and brushed stainless steel pedals. As far as extras go, we would recommend going for the $1,950 Driver Assist package, which adds driver aids such as lane change assist, blind-spot assist, evasive steering assist, and route-based speed adaptation. This option triggers the $2,300 Premium Package, which also adds a Burmester sound system, a surround-view camera system, and more. We'd also get wireless phone charging and the $1,100 head-up display. The total price of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class coupe with this build comes to $81,120, including a destination fee of $1,050.
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