The third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS has arrived in India. Although the new CLS borrows its underpinnings from the E Class, it does have a few elements from the S Class too. We take it for a spin to see what it has to offer.
Mercedes-Benz developed the first gasoline-powered automobile way back in 1886. Since then, the German manufacturer with the three-pointed star has been at the forefront of innovation in terms of automobile engineering and design.
Mercedes also created the world’s first diesel-powered passenger car. They were also the first to use fuel-injection in a production car, and they were also the first to use ABS in their vehicles. And that’s not all, the list goes on. But technology is not the only field in which Mercedes-Benz made its presence felt. You see, Mercedes not only revolutionised the automobile industry in terms of technology but also design. And the CLS is the perfect example of this.
Mercedes was the first to bring the four-door coupe design to the luxury segment in 2004 with the launch of the CLS. The idea of the four-door coupe was to combine the sporty look and profile of a coupe with the four-door convenience and comfort of a sedan. In this respect, the launch of the CLS launched a whole new segment of vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz India has just brought the third-generation CLS to India, and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to take it for a drive and see what all it has in store for you.
While driving this car, you can’t but notice that it turns a lot of heads. I wouldn’t say that it’s a particularly beautiful car, but I will grant you this – it's a distinctive amalgamation of elegance and seductiveness with a sporty design. The new car’s design, however, still has a few familiar hallmarks of previous CLS generations – an arching waistline, sloping roof and lack of hard edges.
But now, it gets more angular headlamps and a sporty front-end that seems to take its inspiration from AMG models. It also has slim, attractive-looking tail-lights that extend all the way from the fenders towards the centre of the rear. It comes with18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, which, I think, could’ve been a bit bigger. The car has a pointed down stance and resembles the coupe design in every sense of the term.
Interior and tech
Based on the same underpinnings as the latest Merc E-Class, the CLS also borrows a lot of tech from the S-Class – it’s also the first CLS coupe to feature five seats instead of four.
There is a lovely 12.3-inch digital dial display, as well as widescreen cockpit displays. You also get ambient lighting that can switch between 64 colours. There’s leather splashed around everywhere, with a nice silver-wood touch. The quality of craftsmanship is second to none.
It also gets a parking package (including an HD reversing camera), Agility Control suspension and intelligent lighting. Other features include keyless go, electric seats, a Burmester stereo and an electric sunroof.
The illuminated air vents shaped like jet turbines are my favourite part of the dash. The backlighting changes from red to purple to blue, depending on your temperature setting – it’s perhaps the best interior setup I have ever seen in a luxury coupe.
Passengers at the back may feel wanting in terms of space, owing to the sloping roofline that provides very little headroom. The rear seats are also not the best, but you can’t expect anything else from a coupe. Even though Mercedes claims it to be a five-seater, I wouldn’t call it that at all.
Engine and driving
Because the car is imported in India, it carries a very high price tag. So, to not make the high price tag even higher, Mercedes decided to bring in the smallest engine variant to India. This means that you get a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel for Rs 85 lakh. However, the engine does have a healthy output of 242bhp and 500Nm of torque. As you would expect from Mercedes, it’s a really smooth and refined engine, so much so that it almost feels like it’s a 6-cylinder unit.
Even the performance is remarkably good. It responds quickly to even gentle throttle inputs, and the 9-speed auto reacts quickly and smoothly to make the most of the available torque. The car offers four-driving modes – Sport+, Sport, Comfort and Eco. There’s also Individual mode that allows you to customise the way engine, suspension, steering and traction function. In Sport+, flat-out acceleration is quite impressive, and the CLS 300d can sprint from 0 to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds – the E 350d does it in 7 seconds.
The air suspension is great, and the car glides over broken tarmac. But the low ground clearance means that you need to be careful, especially over big speed-breakers.
This isn’t a vehicle that you can chuck around, though, and drive flat-out all the time. Instead, it’s a car suitable for relaxed driving. The coupe design might make it look sporty, but the CLS is all about taking things easy. It’s still a luxury car that you can use to go from A to B, and it certainly offers you that feeling of being whisked in total comfort.
Should you buy it?
So, is it worth spending the extra premium on this attractive four-door coupe? Or does the E Class do the job just fine?
Well, alternatively, you could also look at the Audi A7 3.0 litre TDI Quattro, which is offered at the exact same price and has the exact same specifications and power output. Personally, I feel the A7 looks better, but the interior layout of the CLS is just out of this world. If you are a Beemer fan, then you could opt for the more chunkier looking BMW 6GT in the M Sport variant that costs around Rs 10 lakh less.
As for me personally, I would simply go for the E Class. It’s way more comfortable and just as relaxing and fun to drive. What you are essentially paying more for is equipment in the CLS, which you might not ever use, and, of course, that stylish coupe look that will put all eyes on you.