The previous generation CLS was the car that really turned the tide for Mercedes in terms of its styling ethos, and in the opinion of the public. No longer was the German manufacturer seen as a maker of boring three-box saloons.
In fact, some could attribute the existence of Audi’s large Sportback and (arguably) BMW’s 5GT to the CLS. The daring, swoopy lines and coupé-esque profile made it instantly recognisable and sought after – to the tune of 170 000 units worldwide. Of those sales, Mercedes-Benz claimed that over 30 per cent were newcomers to the brand.
This new car had curvy shoes to fill, and for the most part – or else you happen to be a die-hard BMW or Porsche fan – the appearance of the new car is as eye-catching and beautiful as the previous model. The detailing on this car is even more distinctive, such as those LED tail-lamps, which, when launched, were a world first for a production car.
Three models make up the current CLS range. The entry-level model is a normally-aspirated V6 and the range-leader is the AMG model, which you can read about by clicking here. The model in-between is the CLS 500, the subject of this report.
This model is powered by Mercedes’ relatively new twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The 4,6-litre, direct injection unit develops 300 kW. More impressive, however, is the 600 N.m of torque produced between 1 600 and 4 750 r/min. The power delivery is smooth and unflustered, and coupled with a seven-speed automatic transmission the CLS 500 is a beautiful GT car.
Acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h takes a fraction over five seconds and the top speed is limited to 250 km/h. Thanks to the slippery shade and efficient powertrain, fuel consumption in the combined cycle is quoted as 9,0 litres/100 km.
The huge torque output makes for effortless cruising and when the need arises the CLS makes mincemeat of slow moving traffic. The shift paddles on the steering wheel are really unnecessary as the transmission is totally in tune with the engine. A gentle waft of acceleration requires just a prod of the gas pedal. Mash the throttle and the ECU will instruct the car to drop a few cogs and dip into the 600 N.m reserve. I seriously doubt that any CLS 500 owner will make regular use of the paddles… drivers of that ilk are likely to opt for the AMG model instead.
As this car rides on sporty, but not racy 255 mm, 40 profile rubber the ride is very smooth. The multi-link front and rear suspension works in harmony with the AIRMATIC springs and electronic dampers to create an effortless ride that will admirably soak up just about any road surface.
The CLS 500 is cast in the typical GT car mould. It is beautifully shaped, has oodles of power, good ride quality and can safely and effortlessly transport four occupants and their luggage over long distances in absolute comfort. I suspect that most buyers considering a CLS will opt for the 500. It’s just a pity that it costs the better part of a million rand (R996 000).
* Engine: 4,6-litre, twin-turbocharged V8
* Power: 300 kW at 5 000 – 5 750 r/min
* Torque: 600 N.m at 1 600 – 4 750 r/min
* Combined European cycle fuel consumption: 9,0 litres/100 km
* CO2 figure: 209
* Acceleration: 5,2 seconds
* Top speed: 250 km/h