you might wonder whether a 2.1 litre, four-cylinder diesel is meaty enough...
Big four-door coupes have enjoyed growing popularity over recent years, and the original Mercedes CLS-Class launched in 2004 was the car that set off the trend. Now in its second generation, introduced in 2011, the CLS is a handsome beast that is a credit to its designer Hubert Lee. Elegantly proportioned, powerful and kitted out to luxury specification, this swoopy-backed coupe has an imposing street presence.
From its wide-mouthed front grille, over the long bonnet, past slanted headlights that flow back into tapering grooves etched into the body sides, down to its shapely rump, the CLS is a car that tends to get you noticed. It is quite a looker. For another driver seeing one of these in the rear view mirror, there is no mistaking what make of car is behind and about to overtake: the big three-pointed star badge in the centre of the front grille announces its identity.
There are six models is the CLS range, five of them with Mercedes’ BlueEFFICIENCY environmental technology and a flagship AMG high performance model. The choice of engines is between two diesels and two petrol units: 2.1 litre four-cylinder diesel (204 bhp), 3.0 litre V6 diesel (265 bhp), 3.5 litre V6 petrol (306 bhp) and 5.5 litre V8 petrol (557 bhp). Prices for the CLS range start from £47,605 and rise to almost £82,000.
Our test car has the smallest engine in the range, and you might wonder whether a 2.1 litre, four-cylinder diesel is meaty enough to effectively haul what is a pretty large and luxurious car. The 150 mph top speed and sub-eight seconds acceleration time ought to be sufficient answer to that. This is a big handsome car with strong performance and also pretty reasonable fuel economy, and a CO2 output that keeps it at the more acceptable end of the tax disc scale. This is the version we’d go for.
The engine is a 2,143 cc, 16-valve turbodiesel teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The power output is 204 bhp peaking at 2,400 rpm, and maximum torque is 368 lb ft at between 1,600 and 1,800 rpm. The car’s performance figures are a top speed of 150 mph and 0-62 mph acceleration in 7.5 seconds.
Considering its plentiful performance, this version of the CLS is not outlandish for CO2 output, at 138 g/km, and its average fuel economy on the official combined figure is 40.9 mpg. The car is in band E for Vehicle Excise Duty, meaning a tax disc costing £125 a year under current 2013/14 taxation rules.
If you went for the range-topping CLS 63 AMG with a 5.5 litre V8 engine, capable of sprinting to 62 mph in an extremely rapid 4.2 seconds, you’d be looking at emissions of 231 g/km and a combined average fuel consumption of 28.5 mpg. The VED for this flagship model is £840 in the first year and £475 in subsequent years.