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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - CLS-class - 4-dr coupe range

Our Opinion

We like
Individual looks, on-road presence, cocooning interior, almost no wind or road noise
Room for improvement
Any colour as long as it’s not black, rear headroom, standard seats need more shoulder bolstering, steering could do with more feedback

Mercedes-Benz logo7 Jun 2005

By NEIL MCDONALD

NOT since Rover’s P5B four-door coupe of the 1960s and the recent Mazda RX-8 have we been asked to broaden our mindsets on what actually constitutes a coupe.

So far we’ve clarified the CLS’s underpinnings, which do actually differentiate the car, so what’s it like on the road?

Under the sheet-metal is a surprisingly reassuringly spirited drive. The suspension, steering and handling feels taunter than an E-class and in the CLS 500 version GoAuto drove fulfils its brief of delivering serious driver enjoyment.

A brief squirt in the CLS 55 AMG only served to up the ante of driver involvement. The AMG not only looks the part with the subtle bodykit, 18-inch alloys and quad exhausts that deliver a rorty sound under hard acceleration. As expected, will go faster and brake harder - and without brake fade - than the 500.

If you’re getting an impression the CLS wooed us, you’d be right.

The direct steering offered reasonable feedback - a tad more would be nice though - and had none of the steering rack-rattle that afflicts some other German cars.

Both the CLS 500 and CLS 55 AMG are blessed with the Airmatic active air suspension system. It has three settings - Comfort, Sport 1 and Sport 2.

The sports modes do firm up the ride and there’s noticeably more low-speed harshness at the expense of occupant comfort but for 90 per cent of conditions the Comfort setting sufficed.

During 500km of varied highway and mountain driving there are definite benefits to the sports mode when the corners become twisty so it comes across as more than just a gimmick.

In our eyes, the styling of the CLS works and differentiates the car from just about every other Mercedes passenger car offering with its dynamic presence.

Obviously cutting the roof down on any car impinges on headroom and the resulting high shoulder line creates a cocooning, dare we say, almost claustrophobic interior.

However, the interior ambience is made more welcoming by the lashings of leather and wood around the cabin and the palpable impression of quality. All the switchgear, and cabin fittings were of a very high standard.

The car’s stylish console, which flows through from the dashboard to the rear seat also creates an air of individuality and point of difference.

The flow-through console means the CLS is strictly a four-seater - but at least the rear seats offer real-world room.

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