2018 CLS 550 New Car Test Drive
More than a decade ago, Mercedes-Benz explored the notion of a coupe with four doors instead of two, a sedan beneath a swooping, low roofline. Thus, the premium German automaker launched the CLS as a 2006 model, redesigning it for 2012.
For 2017, a 9-speed automatic transmission went into the V6-powered CLS400, as well as the CLS550. Otherwise, the CLS is little-changed for 2017.
During its lifetime, the CLS has initiated and then helped define the four-door coupe concept. Still stunning in profile view, the CLS has aged well, as luxury-brand imitators continued to emerge. Mercedes-Benz claims that despite its additional pair of doors, the CLS exhibits classic coupe proportions, including a long hood and frameless side-window glass.
Even today, the CLS qualifies as one of the finest interpretations of the dramatic, indeed, daring, body style. For buyers who appreciate innovative design, this stylish four-door continues to attract attention, despite its age.
Three versions are offered: V6-powered CLS400, CLS550 with a V8 engine, and at the performance summit, the Mercedes-AMG CLS63 S with a mighty 577-horsepower V8.
CLS400 models contain a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, rated at 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. For 2017, the CLS400 gets a 9-speed automatic transmission, like the CLS550.
Stepping up a notch in performance, the CLS550 uses the familiar 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8, rated at 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Both regular CLS models come standard with rear-wheel drive, but 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is an option.
Beneath the hood of the AMG-tuned CLS63 S, a handcrafted biturbo 5.5-liter V8 cranks out 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, the latter available from 1750 to 5000 rpm. Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC is standard on the AMG CLS63 S model, which uses an AMG Speedshift 7-speed automatic transmission.
In addition to superior performance and gratifying luxury, the CLS may be fitted with valuable active-safety technology, though most features are extra-cost options. Standard equipment includes Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which can help prevent rear-end collisions by application of autonomous braking. Available features include adaptive cruise control, Pre-Safe braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, active lane-keep assist, and active parking assistance.
The Audio 20 CD system includes Bluetooth audio, satellite radio, and the Gracenote music database, with an 8-inch screen. Optional COMAND navigation lets drivers surf the internet when the vehicle is stationary, and functions with Mercedes-Benz Apps.
CLS400 ($67,550) comes with the V6 engine, rear-wheel drive, leather upholstery, heated power front seats with memory, ambient lighting, Attention Assist drowsiness detection, Audio 20 CD system, and 18-inch wheels. All-wheel drive adds $2,500 to the price. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $925 destination charge.)
An optional Bang & Olufsen BeoSound system promises striking sound for a whopping $5,400, versus $850 for a Harman Kardon Logic 7 system.
CLS550 ($74,850) substitutes a 402-horsepower V8 engine for the CLS400's V6. An adaptive air suspension is standard. All-wheel drive adds $2,500 to the CLS550 price.
AMG CLS63 S ($108,900) gets a handcrafted AMG 5.5-liter V8 rated at 577 horsepower, a 7-speed AMG automatic transmission, and standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes Nappa leather, paddle shifters, a performance steering wheel with Dinamica grips, and an LED Intelligent Light System, and 19-inch wheels.