Mercedes CLS

Bob Arora: At The Wheel

I can’t believe the original CLS was launched over 14 years ago. The car literally had no competition whatsoever and it went on to sell really well for Mercedes.

Audi and BMW have subsequently launched cars to take on the CLS; the car was based on the quite dreary E Class. This sleek 4-door car looked cool compared to the E Class, it was also more expensive, which meant more profit per car. The first time I drove a CLS was over three years ago. I drove a CLS 63, which was quite unloved. I remember driving the car to York and it desperately needed oil and all of its tyres needed air. But once I gave it a bit of love, it drove like a dream.

The car was the 63 AMG and it had the most amazing engine note – starting the car made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You had to pay attention, it demanded it.  The car was definitely no slouch but, due to its size, it wasn’t the happiest being chucked in corners or twisty roads. As it was literally a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing, I affectionately named the car The Beast!

When I got the call to drive the new CLS, I really couldn’t wait to drive it; but more importantly, to see the difference.

The first thing that strikes you is the  amazing job the designers have done with the styling. The car I drove was in this new trendy green/grey colour which really helped show off the car’s dramatic styling. Mercedes really have the styling sorted for all of its range of cars. The new grill really exudes class too. Add to this the body kit my car was fitted with and the car had so much presence.

I really experienced this on the motorway.  It’s a seriously imposing car; you would have thought I had blue flashing lights on the car’s roof, the way other drivers moved out of the way.

I had the pleasure of driving this car for a few days and driving it in the city centre was a real experience. I stupidly tried to park this car in the John Dobson Street car park in Newcastle – and that was a nerve-racking experience! If I owned a CLS I’d be really tempted to take a taxi to town; there just aren’t many places that this car can be parked with ease. I should have tried Mercedes’ self-parking system but I couldn’t figure out where the button was! In hindsight I should have checked on Google but half the fun for me is learning what each button and switch does – you can’t beat a bit of trial and error!

The car I drove only had a few miles on the clock and I’m always paranoid of scratching the wheels. Just for the record, the wheels were absolutely stunning, the 5-spoke AMG alloys really suited the style of the car.

The car I drove was the new 53 AMG which is basically a 3lt V6 engine. It produces 492 bhp and its top speed is limited to 155mph. Despite the car’s two tonne kerb weight, it still managed to get to 62mph in 4.5 seconds. Unlike the previous 63 AMG I drove, this car wasn’t too bad when it came to fuel economy.

Whilst I had the car, most of my driving was around town and I managed to average 27 mpg which wasn’t far off Mercedes’ quoted figure of 32mpg.

The biggest improvement for me was the car’s interior. The new digital dash display dominates the interior. The driver’s display could be changed in various ways, the sat nav can be in an area where the fuel gauge would normally be. You could have a traditional speedometer, rev counter and fuel gauge, the graphics were really crisp. I’d go as far as to say this is one of the best dashboards available right now.

The new air vents ooze class. The car’s interior lighting could be dimmed and brightened, but for me, the colour palette would be the envy of any paint merchant. The driver and passenger had the benefit of heated and ventilated seats – the massaging seats were very good indeed.

The headroom in the rear of the car was limited, as would be expected with a sloping rear, but rear leg room was good and the rear boot was a decent size too.

The CLS is priced from £52,000 although the car I drove was priced at £70,000 and although it’s not cheap, it had an impressive engine and some real presence on the road. I’d personally buy it over its competitors all day long.

Car supplied by Mercedes Newcastle