Mercedes-Benz_CLS-Class_frontWe have just reluctantly handed back a Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI four-door coupe that, with a little imagination, can classed as affordable.

With a recommended tag of $114,900, the turbo-diesel version sits around $50,000 under the price of the V8 petrol CLS 500 we tested last year.

Mercedes-Benz Australia is extremely aggressive at the moment. Its new A-Class is selling its wheels off, and the about to be launched C-Class, the most important vehicle in the importer’s lineup, is receiving a lot of pre-sale publicity.

The original Mercedes CLS, launched 10 years ago, had soft flowing lines that were later toughened up by way of a facelift. The all-new version has an even more aggressive look. The front grille is almost upright and has strong cues to the stunning SLS Gullwing by AMG.

Mercedes-Benz_CLS-Class_rearNot immediately noticeable is the use of LED headlights, a first in mass production cars. These adjust automatically in four directions – up, down, left or right – according to inputs from other cars’ headlights or taillights and the way the CLS’ steering wheel is turned. They provide almost as much vision as you get in daylight and we loved them.

Swooping swage lines and the ‘Mercedes ponton’ look of the rear guards complete the side profile. At the tail, the new Mercedes four-door coupe features huge taillights that stretch a long way forward.

The interior is done in high-quality materials that are finished to an exceptional standard.

Power comes from the well known 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and peaks at 150 kW. More important than power is torque and this engine has plenty of it, 500 Newton metres to be precise. It’s not that many years since you needed a six-litre petrol V8 to achieve something approaching 500 Nm.

The transmission is also familiar, Merc’s seven-speed self shifter is one of the sweetest in the business.

Multiple driver aids will do everything they can to keep you out of trouble. Should all else fail the CLS has no fewer than 11 airbags, including one to protect the driver’s knees, to minimise injuries.

It goes without saying the the CLS-Class gained five stars when tested by European authorities.

The front seats of the new CLS are large and spacious and support reasonably well, it’s not intended to be a sports model and comfort is more important than the ability to corner at big G-forces.

The basic design of the suspension is already good, and is backed up by electronic sensors that can assist a driver who has over-driven the car, or who has simply made a mistake.

Legroom in the rear seat is good, though you wouldn’t describe it as being generous. It’s obviously not a Mercedes S-Class, or even an E-Class back there, but four adults will find they can settle back and revel in the luxury of this sleek coupe/sedan.

Back country roads didn’t show up any great deterioration.

Performance from what is a relatively small turbo-diesel powerplant is very good, indeed all but the revheads will find it has far more acceleration than they need.

There’s some lag when the engine is suddenly asked to do something but once the turbocharger is spinning in a purposeful manner there’s plenty of urge. Indeed, in some stages through the rev range it feels almost as good as the V8 petrol. Love it!

Fuel consumption in easy running sat in the six to seven litre range, with fives there if you really work at it. Around town diesel usage lifted to eight to ten litres per hundred kilometres, which is pretty low considering the performance potential.

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door coupe with a turbo-diesel engine is a highly competent machine that looks great and is dynamic on the road.


CLS 250 CDI 2.1-litre turbo-diesel four-door coupe: $114,900 (automatic)
CLS 500 4.7-litre bi-turbo petrol four-door coupe: $159,900 (automatic)
CL3 63 AMG 5.5-litre bi-turbo petrol four-door coupe: 262,650 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for driveaway prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering wheel mounted controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI 2.1-litre turbo-diesel four-door coupe)

Capacity: 2.143 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression ratio: 16.2:1
Bore/Stroke: 83.0 mm x 99.0 mm
Maximum Power: 150 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 1600-1850 rpm

Driven Wheels: Rear
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Seven-speed
Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied

Length: 4940 mm
Wheelbase: 2874 mm
Width: 1881 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Turning Circle: 11.3 metres
Kerb Mass: 1785 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 67 litres
Boot Capacity: 520 litres

Front Suspension: Direct control,
Rear Suspension: Multi link independent, coil springs, gas shocks
Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brakes: Ventilated Disc

0-100 km/h Acceleration: 7.5 seconds

Type: Diesel
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 5.2 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 7.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6/10

Three years/ unlimited km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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