Mercedes CLS 2018: all the details

PROS

  • Eye-catching looks
  • Next generation engines
  • Clever AMG 53 model
  • Luxury and performance mix

CONS

  • E-Class saloon more practical
  • Restricted visibility 
  • More anonymous than previous CLS
  • No soul-stirring V8

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

The Mercedes-Benz CLS offers an enticing mix of style, luxury and performance, plus a surprising amount of practicality thanks to its big boot and five seats.

This rakish, extravagant offering was something of a niche when it was first launched, but now has to fend off competition from the Audi A7 SportbackBMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and Porsche Panamera.

Unlike those cars the CLS has historically been a showcase for the most exciting design and tech innovations Mercedes-Benz has to offer, and this third generation model is no exception.

Futuristic engine line-up

The most notable advances are under the bonnet – a range of new engines includes the most sophisticated petrol unit, and most powerful series production diesel motor Mercedes-Benz has ever made.

From launch your only choice is a trio of 3.0-litre, six-cylinder powertrains, the CLS 350 d and 400 d diesels, and the CLS 450 petrol.

The latter uses a new-for-Mercedes combination of petrol engine and 48-volt electric motor to deliver bold acceleration and sensible running costs. 

Coming soon after launch is a more powerful version of that engine badged Mercedes-AMG 53, plus a scaled-down version of its hybrid system using a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit.

What’s the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS like to drive?

The CLS is brash and muscular in its power delivery – our highlight is the 400 d model with its substantial yet effortless 700Nm of torque – although the clever EQ Boost petrol mild-hybrids have an intriguing appeal of their own.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

Overall the ride is flat-batted right down middle, so expect relaxed composure whether you go for the passive steel suspension or the optional air set up – diverging into firmer or more comfortable territory respectively.

All-wheel drive (called 4Matic) is standard on six-cylinder cars and provides substantial traction in all weather – we tried it out in the snow where the CLS gripped the tarmac like it was wearing crampons.

Merc CLS gets top tier equipment

There’s only one trim level for the CLS, called AMG Line, which is usually the very top trim for a mainstream Mercedes-Benz, so you get a lot of kit.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

Expect 19-inch alloys, open-pore grey ash interior wood trim, widescreen digital cockpit display and extensive ambient LED lighting. Options take the form of the Driving Assistance Plus, Premium Plus and Comfort packs.

There’s also a limited-run Edition 1 car and the standalone AMG model, the latter of which will be revealed soon after the launch of the mainstream car.

Even more practical than before

The four-door CLS now has a full five seats for the first time ever, setting it apart from slinky Germanic rivals from BMW and Audi – even the Porsche Panamera is only a four-seater in saloon form.

Not only that, they usefully fold 40:20:40 for enhanced carrying ability, and there’s a vast 520-litre boot contained within that long rear overhang.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS

That’s less than an  E-Class saloon (but more than the Coupe) and as you’d expect, it has less headroom in the back thanks to the sloping roof, but the CLS remains a deeply adaptable vehicle.


The Parkers Verdict

The Mercedes-Benz CLS was a bit of an irregular thing when it was first launched – but time, an increasing number of rivals, and a less striking design this time round means it makes slightly less of an impact.

Still, there’s nothing ordinary about its tantalising combination of coupe styling, big-saloon practicality and near-limo levels of luxury, which go towards making it such it’s a great all-rounder.

If you’re looking for a solid one-car-fits all and are happy to trade outright practicality for handsome, rakish looks, then stand by for our full Mercedes-Benz CLS full review

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS