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Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS500 2015 Review

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EXPERT RATING
9.0

Likes

  • 9-speed transmission
  • Smart headlights
  • The smell of leather

Dislikes

  • Limited rear headroom
  • Droopy tail lights

Spotting the updated CLS is as simple as looking for the LED daytime running lights at the top of the headlamps.

But there's more to this facelift than meets the eye.

Customer desire for the latest technology has put paid to the days when revised front and rear styling would pass as a mid-life refresh.

Accordingly, Benz has updated the CLS's telematics, added a nine-speed automatic transmission and performed the now-expected trick of simultaneously boosting power and improving fuel economy.

Since its launch more than a decade ago the CLS has had a lock on the four-door prestige coupe class Mercedes-Benz created. In Australia it outsells the Audi A7 and BMW 6 Series combined and that isn't likely to change with this refresh.

DESIGN

The basic proportions of the CLS are unchanged with a long, low bonnet and the signature curved roofline.

The freestanding display screen is the obvious change on the inside, along with a redesigned steering wheel and an extra pair of buttons on the centre console that can store favourite functions from the Comand multimedia system.

A wood-panelled luggage compartment floor is now standard on Shooting Brake variants.

Darkened LED tail lamps aren't just there for looks — the intensity of the indicators and brakes adjusts depending on exterior light and speed to avoid glare for the drivers behind.

The AMG-line bodykit is standard on the CLS500 CarsGuide tested and adds polished alloy pedals, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and the chrome-pin "diamond" grille first seen on the A-Class.

The leather quality and quantity is also improved and the heated and cooled front seats use active air chambers to secure the occupants during hard cornering.

AROUND TOWN

Active parking assist takes the stress out of berthing the 4.9m-long coupe, backed by a birds-eye view camera for traditionalists who still prefer to park themselves.

Leave the suspension and engine/transmission settings in their default modes and the CLS fuses comfort and control in a way that will delight the driver and leave the passengers unperturbed.

Active blind spot and lane-change assistance is a boon on congested multi-lane roads increasingly.

There's also internet connectivity and a TV tuner for in-car entertainment while waiting for the kids to finish footy training.

ON THE ROAD

Set the cruise control, keep your hands lightly on the wheel and relax as the Benz reads the road markings ahead and automatically adjusts the steering to keep the CLS running true. Early versions had a tendency to wander within the lane from one white line to another but this iteration has all but eliminated the "mildly drunk" driving style.

This generation of "multibeam" LED headlamps can now be set to high beam and the software will sort the rest out, from dimming individual diodes to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers to anticipating the curve of an approaching corner and adjusting the light pattern before the driver has started the turn. It is clever, complex and carefree.

PERFORMANCE

Find an appropriate road and the CLS is a willing participant in demonstrating its superior dynamics over the E-Class sedan on which it is based. The bi-turbo V8 is a sledgehammer controlled by a nine-speed virtuoso.

BMW's excellent eight-cog auto has been a favourite but the Benz gearbox is just as seamless, even if Australian owners won't engage ninth gear at legal speeds. The press blurb says the car will be doing 1350rpm at 120km/h — good luck explaining to the Highway Patrol you were just trying to improve fuel economy.

Claimed fuel consumption is 8.6L/100km; CarsGuide saw 11.2 after a week that mixed sedate cruising with town duties and a brief indulgence with the V8s top end.

Mercedes-Benz CLS500 2015:

Safety Rating
Engine Type Turbo V8, 4.7L
Fuel Type Premium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency 9.9L/100km (combined)
Seating 4
Price From $29,370 - $35,420

Verdict

More gear(s) can only improve the business case for the CLS. It is a cosseting coupe with the versatility of four doors and a voracious appetite for devouring kilometres. Only the more expensive Porsche Panamera comes close.

WHAT IT'S GOT

Luxury looks and feel backed by enough safety related software to avert Armageddon

WHAT IT HASN'T

Bugger all, at least in CLS500 guise, beyond an AMG badge on the boot. And plenty of buyers will want that

PICK OF THE RANGE

The CLS250 CDI is a whole lot of car for $114,900 and diesel power means it uses just 5.4L/100km, even with "only" seven gears.

ALSO CONSIDER

Audi A7 3.0 Biturbo - $149,600

The Sportback looks the part inside and has AWD but ultimately isn't as rewarding behind the wheel.

BMW 650i Gran Coupe - $237,975

The Beemer is marginally faster but with fewer features — lane-departure, active cruise and auto-parking are options

Porsche Panamera S - $288,900

You're paying for the drive, with unparalleled feedback but nowhere near the techno-toys in the facelifted CLS.

Range and Specs

Vehicle Specs Price*
cls500 Base 4.7L, Premium Unleaded Petrol, 9 SPEED AUTOMATIC $29,370 - $35,420
See all 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class in the Range
*Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
Craig Duff
Contributing Journalist
Craig Duff is a former CarsGuide contributor and News Corp Australia journalist. An automotive expert with decades of experience, Duff specialises in performance vehicles and motorcycles.
About Author
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication. Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.
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