Review Mercedes CLS 320CDI New car

17 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Review Mercedes CLS 320CDI New car
Mercedes CLS 350

Review of the new Mercedes CLS 320CDI



(7.5 out of 10)

REVIEW DATE: 25 июл 2006

Quite Where Mercedes’ CLS 320CDI Fits Into The UK Prestige Car Market Is Anyone’s Guess But Its Unusual Make-Up Should Render It A Hit With Buyers Keen To Stand Out From The Crowd. Steve Walker Reports.


We were just about getting used to the idea of prestige coupes with diesel engines and then Mercedes-Benz saw fit to confront us with this – the CLS 320CDI. Bafflement ensued around the office, heads were scratched and chins were stroked in an attempt to get a handle on the vehicle and its place in the market. The CLS on its own is pretty hard to pin down.

It has four doors and a boot like a saloon but we’re told it’s a coupe and the swoopy styling would appear to back that up. Chuck the 320CDi engine into the mix and the waters are muddied further. It’s a remarkable powerplant but its practical values don’t really tally with the ostentatious appeal of the CLS in the way that the big petrol engines do.

What sort of person would buy one?

To choose a Mercedes-Benz CLS in the first place, you have to be a person who’s driven by the way things look and feel. Here’s a vehicle that’s around £7,000 more model for model than an E-Class and yet it offers significantly reduced interior space and luggage capacity. It does have four doors along with space to seat four adults in comfort, however, and the styling, although initially challenging, does grow on you with its elegant lines and retro influences.

The CLS is a classy product, obviously conceived for people who like to stand out from the crowd and perhaps this is where the 320CDi engine comes in. Like the CLS itself, it’s an offbeat choice but it’s also an informed one.

If you had to pigeonhole the Mercedes-Benz CLS, it would probably be as some kind of luxury grand tourer and that would lead you to expect that it functions best with the drama of a big petrol engine snarling away under its bonnet. In the 350, the 500 and the 63 AMG models, the CLS has a V6 and two V8s to fire the imagination. You can visualise it snaking up a remote mountain pass or blasting down an autobahn but couldn’t the same effect be achieved with a diesel?

If we’re talking about the Mercedes-Benz 320CDI diesel, it most certainly could.

It’s an outstanding powerplant, definitely one of the world’s finest diesels

Mercedes CLS 350

The engine is an absolute stormer, producing 224bhp from its 6-cylinder 24-valve configuration. It’s actually a 3.0-litre unit, despite what the 320CDI title might lead you to believe, and it’s the least powerful option in the CLS Range but you wouldn’t know that to drive it. The 510Nm maximum torque output means there’s a tidal wave of acceleration poised to wash over you when the throttle is depressed at virtually any point in the rev Range.

0-60mph acceleration of seven seconds is on a par with the CLS 350 but drop the hammer while cruising at 40mph and the diesel’s monumental torque would leave that car floundering. Other advantages include the 37.2mpg average fuel economy and the 202g/km CO2 emissions, both figures being far superior to anything the CLS petrol engines can mange.

The CLS is a car of contradictions and nowhere are these more apparent than when you’re seated behind the wheel. The low, laid-back driving position will come as a surprise to anyone who had this down as an E-Class with a prettier face. The high window line and low roof add to the sports car feel, as does the pronounced transmission tunnel that runs through the centre of the cabin. You feel cocooned within the car and it’s an altogether different experience than you get from an E-Class.

Traditional Mercedes-Benz customers may not like the restricted visibility or the more strenuous entries and exits that result from the low-slung seats but once you’re in, it’s extremely comfortable.

Once you get moving, the CLS surprises again. The car’s dynamic exterior lines are forgotten as it serves up an experience that is typical Mercedes-Benz. Beautifully-damped suspension obliterates uneven road surfaces and anyone harbouring concerns over the refinement of the 320CDI engine will quickly lay them to rest after a stint at the wheel.

The ride can be firmed-up with a press of a button but the CLS tackles corners with aplomb, even in the standard setting and the benefits of the sport mode’s more fidgety ride aren’t that great. When you’re pressing on, the CLS seems to shrink around you and it’s an involving drive in a way that you wouldn’t expect from a car of this size. It’s no sports car because there’s always that level of shielding from the sensory input of the engine, suspension and steering but there’s definitely fun to be had in the CLS.

The CLS is a car of various contrasting views and you’ll wander round it more than a few times before you finally decide how you feel about that look. Most observers suspect an American influence and they’re right to do so, CLS being largely the work of American stylist Michael Fink. Priced from £43,250 in 320CDI form, it almost looks like an evolution of a Los Angeleno low rider from the late fifties and is undoubtedly going to be a very hot ticket in Mercedes’ biggest export market.

It’s difficult to take in all of the details of the CLS styling at one go. The way the twin swage lines that run along the flanks become the leading edge of the front wheelarch is beautifully resolved and the big L-shaped front lights mark a welcome departure from the gawky ‘peanut’ headlamps seen on so many contemporary Benzes. Even the door handles look like something from an Art Deco design exhibition.

The CLS is a non-conformist concept from one of the world’s most conservative manufacturers and the 320CDI engine is a similarly leftfield option when fitted to this kind of car. It isn’t that hard to understand how the type of customer who appreciates the CLS for its unorthodox make-up and dramatic appearance could be drawn to the 320CDI. It’s an outstanding powerplant, definitely one of the world’s finest diesels but, more importantly, it isn’t the obvious choice.


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