Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Similar to E-Class in design and quality
  • Larger wheel with lots of buttons on it
  • Cool LED ambient lighting including air vents

How is the quality and layout?

The interior of the Mercedes-Benz CLS hasn’t been changed much for the 2021 facelift. It features swoopy lines, is as well-trimmed as you’d expect, with four central air vents and a dual-screen widescreen display. So far so E-Class, you might say, and if you want a more detailed view of this car then our E-Class Saloon review can give you a good impression.

We’ll deal with the subtle differences here though – most notably the new steering wheel with its plethora of haptic-feedback buttons including those for the cruise control, which used to live on a stalk. You still get the touch-sensitive buttons on the wheel like an E-Class, and these respond to swiping movements to control the entire infotainment system without having to take your hands off the wheel.

These are sensitive controls and take a while to acclimatise to – but in time, they’re mastered and become second nature to use.

Infotainment and tech

Another eye-catching feature is the extensive LED ambient lighting – not itself a new thing, but this time around it has spread to the air vents too. As well as shining in your chosen colour (there are 64 of these) the air vents pulse blue or red when you adjust the climate control.

Lighting around the widescreen display helps separate it from the dashboard visually, and as with the E- and S-Class it adds to the high-tech feel in the CLS. Two 12.3-inch screens share the same glass front in an effort to make them look like a super-widescreen display, but in reality it still looks like two displays rather than one.

Mercedes CLS infotainment screen

You can now command the climate control and seat heating or ventilation, plus interior lights, massage seats, perfume diffuser and head-up display with voice control. In this case, the MBUX’s ‘Hey Mercedes’ prompt works extremely well, and it had no issues understanding the driver’s commands.

A clear and bright (optional) head-up display contains enough information to remove the need to look away from the road and features a light sensor to adjust its illumination automatically.

Finally a wireless charging pad can be added to the centre console storage compartment for seamless recharging of so-equipped smartphones.

Comfort

  • Sporty-looking but comfortable front seats
  • Design is echoed in the rear
  • Optional air suspension is very plush

The Mercedes-Benz CLS rides beautifully, has squashy seats and is near-silent on the move, so it ticks all our requirements for a luxury car. In particular, we were impressed by the ride from the sophisticated multi-chamber air suspension – this is aided by continuous, electronically-controlled adaptive damping, which can alter the stiffness at each wheel individually to deliver the best ride on cracked tarmac.

The seats in the Mercedes-Benz CLS were designed exclusively for this car, with the two outer rears mirroring the fronts in terms of design, for a sporty single seat look. They’re also really comfortable, feeling large even for a six-foot-plus driver, and offering substantial bolstering in the faster AMG model.

Optional Active Multicontour Seats react to hard cornering by inflating their sides to support you better, and feature a massage function and luxury head restraints.

You can also specify something called Energising Comfort Control – a package of functions including air conditioning, seat heating/ventilation/massage, surface and steering wheel heating plus lighting and music.

There are six ‘moods’ including Warmth, Vitality and Comfort and each runs for 10 minutes, visualised on the head unit and backed by suitable music. Another clever function is the Thermotronic automatic climate control, which works with the GPS to optimise the cabin air quality, for example switching to air recirculation mode when entering a tunnel. Sounds cheesy, but it genuinely works

This CLS is larger than the previous car and comes with bigger standard wheels but still boasts a competitively aerodynamic shape, which means wind noise is kept to a minimum.

There’s also a lot of special suppressive material including comprehensive sealing around the pillarless windows – something made better by the optional double-glazing. Of particular merit are the six-cylinder diesel engines, which are the best-in-model for refinement and silent running at motorway speeds.