By on December 18, 2011

I appreciate the novelty of a new design as much as the next guy, but have never understood the four-door-coupé. I mean, aren’t these terms mutually exclusive? A coupé can’t have four doors and a car with four doors can’t be a coupé? Mercedes started this conundrum with the CLS back in 2004, and then Volkswagen decided to jump on the bandwagon to bolster Passat sales with the CC in 2008. It was only a matter of time before VAG decided to compete with the CLS head on with the A7. After all, Audi has had model envy for years, and if they are to stay on track with world domination, they need to attack the mainline Germans at every body style. Not one to rest on laurels, Mercedes has redesigned the CLS for 2011. Michael Karesh wrangled an A7 out of Audi back in July, and Mercedes let me take theirs for a week. Let’s see if the CLS has what it takes to reign supreme in this extremely small niche.

The new CLS, like the outgoing model is essentially a Mercedes E-Class styling exercise. From the outside, the new CLS is larger than its predecessor by an inch in almost every dimension. Mercedes’ new love of angles mixed with curves is an attractive blend of Bentley, Jaguar XJ and “a whole lot” of old CLS. When the old CLS was released back in 2004, I thought to myself “it looks like it was laid,” and I wasn’t thinking about eggs. The new Merc’s sheet metal strikes an aggressive pose from almost any angle but the rear end still looks a bit pinched-off. On the bright side, the all-LED headlamps look like they could pierce your soul; and that’s what I want in a German car. The Audi A7 on the other hand is almost boring in comparison. Sure, the A7 apes the R8’s haunches, but the front is decidedly pedestrian A3/A4/A5/A6/A8/A-insert-your-number-here.

Flamers, get your torches ready! Let’s dive into the interior. “Got headroom?” No, headroom in the rear is far from impressive, but who cares? This is a coupé after all, so the rear seats have little impact on my impression of the car. Please note that the primary mission of the four-door coupé is not to carry four in comfort, it is to carry four “when required”. As a result, both the A7 and CLS “suffer” from limited headroom in the back, but what are those seats really for? Not the kids. No, the seats are for business lunches where you jam someone in the back for a 5-minute trip to Il Forniao and wow them with your car’s acceleration. The CLS accomplishes this task with ease, the A7 however feels flustered. More on that in a bit.

Despite pricing the CLS above the E, the majority of the interior bits and pieces are pinched from the E rather than the more expensive S, including the E’s fairly small COMMAND screen and controls. Also lifted from the E are the steering wheel, seat controls and window switches. Thankfully Mercedes borrowed only the high-rent parts for use in the CLS. The snazzy switchgear conspires with the stitched dashboard to make the CLS interior a considerable improvement over the E’s haphazard fit and finish. The A7 on the other hand seems to borrow more heavily from the A8 than the A6 with an interior that is top-notch, decidedly more modern and perhaps even less German than the Mercedes..

About that flustered A7, here’s the reason: Audi may have decided to compete with the CLS head-on in terms of interior and exterior design, but (in the American market at least) the engine specs tilt the table heavily in Mercedes’ favor. This is because under the hood of the CLS550 beats the same all-new 4.6L twin-turbo V8 as the CL550 we reviewed back in September. The new M278 engine uses lightweight aluminum construction, direct-injection, variable valve timing and twin intercooled turbochargers (delivering up to 12.9psi of boost) to paradoxically increase horsepower by 5% to 402 HP, torque by 14% to 443 lb-ft while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by some 20%. Not a bad trade statistically.  The A7 on the other hand has yet to be blessed with the long rumored VAG turbo V8, making the only model currently available in the USA the 3.0TFSI trim which uses a 3.0L 90-degree V6 mated to a supercharger to yield an impressive (yet paling in comparison) 310 HP and 325 lb-ft.  When you take into account the A7 Quattro’s heavier curb weight of 4,210lbs vs 4,158lbs for the RWD CLS, you would be right in thinking this big Benz is a rocket ship. (When equipped with 4Matic AWD, as was our tester, the weight increases to a not-too-crazy 4,268lbs.)

While the Audi A7 uses the latest ZF 8-speed transmission, Mercedes has stuck to their tried-and-true in house designed 7-speed automatic. We can be thankful of two things in regards to the 7-speed: it hunts far less than the ZF 8-speed unit, and Mercedes thankfully used a torque converter instead of a clutch ala some recent AMG products. If you opt for one of the AMG wheel packages Mercedes ($760 or $1,260) Mercedes will throw in a manual shift mode for your steering wheel paddles. Since the A7 comes only in Quattro guise on our shores, we requested the CLS in 4Matic to get the comparison as even as possible. Out on the drag strip the A7’s 5.4 second 0-60 time proved optimistic with the car actually yielding 5.5-5.6 second times. On paper this appears to compete well with the CLS550, however, our 4Matic tester delivered 4.3 second runs to 60 back-to-back with heat soak only knocking the times down to a maximum of 4.5 with repeated runs. We were unable to test the RWD CLS550’s 0-60 time ,but I don’t expect it to be much higher for most drivers despite the reduced weight and loss; with this much power, traction is your enemy. I should point out that 4.3 seconds is faster than a decent number of Mercedes’ late model AMG products. Speaking of AMG, because the CLS63 AMG is RWD only, I was unable to get much lower than 4.2 seconds during a brief flirt with a dealer provided vehicle. With Audi expected to release a turbo charged V8 S7 at some point, stay tuned for a rematch.
Coupés are supposed to be all about spirited driving on the windy roads of California’s central coast. This is where the differences in design between the A7 and CLS become more apparent. The A7, much like the A6 on which it is based, may now have a rear-biased Quattro system, but design is still front heavy. The combination of a heavy nose and a two-foot larger turning-circle make the A7 a chore to steer on the tight and questionably-cambered corners of Highway 1. The CLS on the other hand may deliver less road feel and a more compliant ride, but the tendency to “plow” less frequently leads to a decidedly reduced pucker-factor on roads where “plowing”  is  followed by a 400ft plunge into the Pacific ocean. How much does this really matter? Not much for 99% of drivers honestly. While the 1% may rave over the CLS’ road manners, the other 99% will probably find the CLS’s air suspension seals the deal.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but I’d take a snazzy infotainment system any day, so would many luxury shoppers by all accounts. This is where the sharp dressed, quick off the line CLS loses to the Audi in a big way. Sure, the CLS550 has DistronicPlus cruise control, lane departure warning and a navigation system. The problem is COMMAND. It’s old, it’s slow, the screen is small and the graphics haven’t been updated in some time. It is the first generation Rio MP3 player to Apple’s iPod Touch. Audi on the other hand has stuffed the A8’s large 8-inch high resolution MMI system into the A7. While I have to say the MMI system is far harder to learn than iDrive, it is still miles ahead of COMMAND. If ease of use is not enough to sway you, it also has the CLS beat on the graphics front. Audi decided that the BMWesque 3D topographic maps weren’t fancy enough and teamed up with Google to put satellite imagery on their maps that is constantly updated via an embedded 3G cellular connection. Also on offer is the ability to use Google’s massive database to search for addresses and points of interest. The system works very well if you are in a 3G coverage area, “eventually” if you are in a 2G area, and not at all if you are out in the middle of nowhere (which is apparently where I live). Fear not however, it is backed up by a traditional hard drive based nav database. While this all sounds good, nobody was able to tell me how much this Google connectivity would cost me monthly and the MMI “finger gesture pad” is about as useful as Lexus’ mouse doohickey. Read: just give me some buttons.

Cargo capacity and rear seat accommodations are usually not a huge deal for two-door coupé shoppers, but the four-door buyer may want to take a quartet golfing someday. The CLS delivers a respectable 15.3 cu ft which can easily accommodate clubs for four. The A7, as a hatchback, was made with practicality in mind and offers 17.7cu ft with the cargo cover in place, 24 without, and thanks to standard folding rear seats and the hatchback design, it is possible to stuff a large BBQ from Home Depot in the trunk. (I didn’t say it would close however) The CLS’s rear thrones also fold (a $440 option), but the cargo “hole” created by their contortion is fairly small. Rear passenger room is more of a mixed bag than the trunk. Both the A7 and CLS deliver 36 inches of headroom out back but suffer from rear seats that are a hair more reclined than you would find in a sedan (this helps it seem bigger.) While the A7 does provide 2-inches more rear leg room, because of the head room is no larger than the CLS, it didn’t seem to help “normally-proportioned” tall people fit. If however your passengers are all-legs, the A7 is your better buy.

Buyers of $80,000 luxury cars still seem to care about fuel economy, so let’s talk numbers. My daily commute is 53 miles one-way and involves 30% rural mountain driving, 40% freeway at an average of 75MPH, 30% city streets and a 2,200ft mountain pass. The CLS550 4Matic over 641 miles averaged 22.2 on my daily commute and saw around 26MPG on a 40 mile trip on a level highway at the speed limit. The A7 in comparison averaged 26.3 MPG over 860 miles and 33MPG on that same level-highway trip. While the CLS doesn’t deliver the frugality of the A7, I can forgive it because of the extra hundred ponies under the hood.

Our CLS550 wore a base price of $71,300, however as ours was loaded with everything from 4Matic to LED headlamps, our tester’s out-the-door price was $82,765. A comparably equipped E550 sedan would cost $73,265 so the increase in style costs CLS shoppers about $9,500. The Audi A7 in comparison starts at $59,250 but lacks the standard equipment the base CLS posesses. Comparably equipped to our CLS tester, an A7 would have rung in at $78,605 or only about $4,000 cheaper. (As Michael Karesh pointed out, the A7’s fashion penalty over the A6 is $8,000.) Unless you are shopping for the value (at which point you’d have decided to just buy a regular sedan) the E550’s $4,000 premium over the A7 and ho-hum infotainment system seem a small price to pay for the CLS550’s performance.


You know the phrase: bigger is better, faster is better. Always. But is it? I’m the kind of shopper that a company like Mercedes loves: I option the car up to the gills when I buy, and I always get the fastest version available. Until now. With the CLS550’s twin-turbo monster under the hood, I do believe Mercedes has outdone themselves and in the process made their own AMG brand less relevant. The CLS is only a hair slower, and when shod with similar rubber handles almost as well as the AMG model for considerably less cash. Is the AMG faster? Yes. Nicer? Yes, but, is it enough to justify the premium? That’s a tough sell for me. On the other hand, the CLS550 is without a doubt the king of the four-door coupé market.

Mercedes provided the vehicle for our review, insurance and one tank of gas.

Statistics as tested

0-60: 4.32 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.7 Seconds @ 113 MPH

Fuel Economy: over 641 miles, 22.2MPG

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51 Comments on “Review: 2012 Mercedes CLS 550...”


  • avatar
    dejal1

    Surround Lighting?

    I hope that is only when you approach the car and want to get in. It would be a great way to ensure that no one has attached a pipe bomb underneath.

    Or is it bling?

    http://www.realtruck.com/pacer-under-car-lighting-kit/

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Ha ha, no, you can’t drive around with it, at least not without some serious hacking! Yes, the surround lighting only comes on when you unlock the car or open the door.

  • avatar
    don1967

    What’s so hard to understand about a four-door-coupé? (a) It’s way better than a two-door in tight parking lots, and (b) It satisfies that inner Mr. Burns, who enjoys watching employees crawl into his office through a 3-foot-tall doorway. Isn’t social stratification what Mercedes ownership is all about?

    • 0 avatar

      I think Coupes are supposed to be 2-doors only. 4-door coupe is a lie. It’s a sedan with shrunken proportions all around.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Its like saying “Economy Super Car”, they just don’t go together.
      Wouldn’t “Sedan” fit this Benz better?

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I know for a fact there have been two door sedans built.

      I believe the term coupe refers to the rake of the roof line.

      A four door coupe is more practical than a two door coupe (which is less practical than a 2 door sedan), but less practical than a four door sport sedan.

      But if you got 70+ big ones to spend on a Mercedes, who cares? But then again, the styling on this car is sort of fugly…

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        A2 (1985-1992 in North America) VW Jetta is the perfect example of a 2 door sedan. The only difference between it and its 4 door counterpart is the omission of 2 doors, and lengthening of the remaining 2. Wheelbase and all other dimensions remain identical. I really liked mine, but you do have to wonder what market VW was trying to reach with it, especially with the 2 door Golf/GTI already there for the “sportier” buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I’ve always thought it was the number of seats that differentiated coupe from sedan.

      A coupe has seating for two, so naturally it has two doors. A sedan has seating for at least four. Therefore it can have two or four doors.

      That being said, I like the previous generation CLS much more than this one. It had, to my eye, an all around cleaner look.

  • avatar

    #1 I am upset that the CLS was styled after the E-class rather than the S-class inside because my S550′s electronics layout is far, far better. The only exception being that none of these cars have touchscreens. I love my Command knob, but, using the new Uconnect touch in the 300cSRT8 was so much easier.

    #2 Mercedes and BMW suck when it comes to interfacing with iPods and Android devices. I’ll be the first to admit it. My car sometimes doesn’t automatically charge my iPhone4S. But Audi’s MMI is NOT better than Comand. I drove an A8 and it took me forever just to do basic things like setup the seat and plot navigation points. Comand is best executed in the S550. The new E-class’ comand system’s car functions and navigations functions were split up and I think that was a huge mistake.

    #3 My business partner bought one of these (same dealer). He enjoys it, but, it’s too small of a car for him and his wife/infant. Therefore, he had to get a Nissan Pathfinder.

    #4 When I drove this, I was left wondering why they couldn’t have made it to E-class proportions in regards to headroom. I fit ok width-wise, but I had a hard time getting comfortable in this.

    All in all, it’s definitely a better deal than the S550 or the CL550 if you don’t need the extra rear legroom. I’ve noticed a lot of those cars showing back up on lots here in NYC because I think everyone is downsizing to the E350. I wanted to trade my car in for this but it was just too small for me so I COMPLETELY GAVE UP ON IT.

  • avatar

    So I gather you like the LED headlamps better than the older Xeons and Halogens? I had a S500 with Xeon headlamps and almost had to junk it when I learned it would cost $2,500 per lamp to replace the light assemblies (which apparently went bad with the bulbs). I hope LEDs are better – in theory, they should last the life of the car.

    I really do love the look of these cars, but is it still hard to enter them? I’m not tall (about 5’8) and whenever I entered one during the auto show, I would hit my head against the top of the car. I guess that’s the price you pay for style …

    D

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      Xenons.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You can replace just the bulbs, we do all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Let me get this straight. You bought an S Class, a top of the line Merc, and then “almost had to junk it” because you couldn’t afford to change the light bulbs?

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        Dirty little secret – Last gen (3+) base model high end luxury (I know, weird niche) cars are a STEAL when you look at purchase cost. Many, MANY people do not think about how much it costs to fix one of those bastards. You can find super cheap S’s, 7′s, A8′s, even things like Quattroporte’s for less than 30% of sticker.

        Then something breaks. And the only one who can fix it is the dealer. And they quote something on the estimate that makes wanna-be ballers cringe.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        That’s what extended warranties are for! While it would be hard to justify one for say, a Camry, on this class of car, they are very much worth it.

      • 0 avatar

        Ellomdian is absolutely right. For someone who doesn’t want a $1k+ car payment the old Benzes are pretty tempting. I ran that car for over four years of really hard use (from 55k to nearly 200k miles) so I have no complaints. I bought it for $27k as a certified pre-owned, but it was long expired by the time serious problems appeared.

        At the time I lived in an area where not many S-Classes were sold and most people who claimed they could repair it didn’t know much about it. That was probably a lot of my trouble with the headlamps.

        D

      • 0 avatar

        If you DIY and are an enthusiast, then you might do well here. If you are like the last guy I talked to, who had been back to the dealer 4x for “check engine”, and had no idea WHY the little light goes on, then it might not be a good idea.

  • avatar

    One correction: the Audi A7 is the only press car I’ve had that I didn’t even have to request, must less wrangle. To give credit where credit is due, I received an email stating that Audi wanted me to review the car ASAP.

    On the CLS: the new one looks more like the rest of the Mercedes line, and is not as timeless, not as distinctive, and not as coupe-like. The last likely pays off in a rear seat that is not as coupe-like. But if this progression continues either this car or the E-Class will become redundant.

    No CLS reliability stats yet. The current E-Class has been doing surprisingly well so far, though:

    http://truedelta.com/car-reliability.php?brand_1=23&model_1=186

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I agree, Michael. With props to Alex’s thorough review, my whole review of this car probably would have been about 50 words:

      The only justification for this class of car is looks. This car not only looks worse than its predecessor, it looks much worse than the predecessor’s knockoff, the VW CC. Fail.

      • 0 avatar

        I disagree. I love the way it looks. I just wish it was a little bigger.

        It’s not as original as the first gen, but, I’ve got to say, THEY ENGINEERED THE HELL OUTTA THIS THING.

        Drive it for a day or two and tell me you don’t love it.

  • avatar

    Please write better.

    And it’s COMAND, by the way.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I don’t see what is so bad about MMI, I have it in my 2012 Q7 and it is FANTASTIC. It is very advanced but easy to use.

  • avatar
    daviel

    My dad had a 1956 Olds 98 4-door hardtop. If this merc is Anything like that Olds it’s a keeper. First car I ever did 100 mph in.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    A better term for this car would be “Sedan with bad proportions”, I swear that trunk is straight off of a 70′s American car.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I can’t stand these things. A coworker of mine has the CC. We went out go somewhere and I could not get into it. I literally could not bend enough to get my fat ass into the front passenger seat. Abysmal ergonomics.

    No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Is this for real? This is the second strange comment in this thread. Let me get this straight. You couldn’t get into a VW CC? The only car I ever had problems fitting into was my MG Midge, back in the day. But at least with the MG, you could literally hop in over the door when the top was down.

  • avatar
    vbofw

    “The A7 on the other hand seems to borrow more heavily from the A8 than the A6 with an interior that is top-notch”

    This is false. The A7 and the A6 have the exact same interior. The A8 is a different ballpark.

    Goodness the Merc’s software and display in the picture above looks 10 years outdated vs even an Audi A4. Awful

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      I for one kind of like the analog style station pointer. And the other labels are pretty much what you expect to find in a nav-radio, these days. Very straightforward and intuitive, if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      Was gonna point that out as well…A6 and A7 have the same dashboard. It’s similar to the A8, but even so the notion that it ‘borrows heavier from the A8′ is obviously untrue. I do agree though that the Merc interior is lagging behind still. It’s a lot better than the previous gen (especially in the E class) but not as good as Audi’s nor the newest Bimmers in this segment (gran coupe=6 series) and the nav unit is almost a noke in comparison.

  • avatar

    Mercedes Benz should have

    #1 left the the multicontour seat controls in COMAND.

    #2 they should have left the dial pad on the armrest (ala S550). “Handsfree” means I shouldn’t have to reach for anything. I should be able to activate/hang up calls from the steering wheel and I should be able to dial without lifting my arm. YES I’M LAZY.

    #3 Interior is too small.

    #4 They should offer this car with the E350′s V6. Yes people buying this car don’t care much about gas mileage, but, there’s no reason that a car this nice should only come with a thirsty engine when a DIESEL or V6 would sell better. The E350 outsells the E550 almost 10 to 1.

    #5 All these cars should have heated/ventilate/massage/multicontour chairs STANDARD. Rear ultrasound and backup camera STANDARD.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      They do offer that engine in Europe already in the CLS (CLS350) so it shouldn’t be too difficult for Merc to offer it in the US as well. Maybe they will in time. They also offer the CLS250CDI (4 banger diesel with 204 HP) and the CLS350CDI (3 liter V6 turbodiesel with IIRC about 265HP).

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        I am told a CLS350 is not in the product plan. The CLS is badged a premium product for a premium target, the optimum US buyer I gather has no interest in a 300HP V6 version. Hybrid versions I am told are considered, but nothing remotely close to “planned.”

      • 0 avatar

        “the optimum US buyer I gather has no interest in a 300HP V6 version.”

        The vast majority of E classes being sold are the 350 rather than the 550. Yet, people buying them (like my Lawyer/friend Carlos who bought one fully loaded a month ago) bought his fully loaded and is no paying MB $800 a month on lease.

        One of my coworkers – who loved my car – decided to buy an S400. He spent over $90,000 but, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to spend long on the gasoline despite it’s ridiculous price tag.

        Therefore, I’ve got to ask myself, what exactly does having an engine this powerful add in price to the CLS? I bet it would sell far better and probably be more reliable with the V6.

      • 0 avatar
        JJ

        In Germany the difference is 16K. 64,5K for the 350, 80,5K for the 500 (which is the US 550). 500 does have airmatic standard but even taking that into account the 500 is say, roughly 20% more expensive.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The previous gen CLS had the best interior of any Mercedes at the time (mostly because the interior of the previous gen S-class was cheap garbage). This car is better than most of the current MB line for sure, but it can’t even touch the S or CL. Those cars are on a different planet in terms of both design and luxury.

    Also, what’s up with the C-class HVAC controls? What was wrong with the E’s rocker switches? That bugs the heck out of me.

    I think the ultimate winner of this segment will be the BMW 6 Gran Coupe. Both the CLS and the A7 are sedans in pretty dresses. The Gran Coupe is an *actual coupe* with extra doors on it. It’s the best looking of the three, and the interior is the best of the three as well. BMW nailed it with the F30 3 series, and I think they nailed it with the Gran Coupe as well. Both are some of the best looking cars BMW has produced in a LONG time.

    • 0 avatar

      You and I both agree. I just don’t understand why MB didn’t give the newer cars a more refined version of the W221 interior. There were some changes I’d make to the W221, but, the amount of features it integrates into such a simple layout is astounding.

      The interior of the new Eclass/CLS looks like everything else new to the market. The only thing that makes them stand out is the bright colored leather and the chrome switches. Thing is, even the M37 and XJ look far better.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I won’t ever be rich unles those lottery tickets the wife buys ever pay off… but why do ze Germans make these things more expensive than the sedan counterparts?

    It makes us value conscious buyers seem to think we’re getting screwed every time we step into a MB dealership, and that’s already foregoing the fact that Benz quality is nothing like it used to be so you’re not even getting any reliability for your trust fund bucks.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Probably a dumb question, but what’s up with this sub-5 second to 60 mph thing (at least in the U.S.) in a 4-place car?

    I would venture that 99% of the owners of such vehicles would absolutely stain their pants even riding in the car when the (competent) driver is using its full delta-vee potential in practically any circumstance on public roads.

    I drive a car a whole second slower than that to 60 mph, and I very infrequently even use that car’s potential.

    So, I have to admit, I don’t get it. And “bragging rights” for this sort of thing strikes me as appropriate for a high school parking lot in the 1960s.

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      Why do these cars have ridiculously low profile performance tires rated to 155mph and beyond? Logic would argue that the target audience would want a comfortable ride at the cost of a few lateral g’s.

      I never understand the development of these things. Old Benzes were comfy, heavy, and reliable–just look at any 80s era S-class pondering around a Tunisian market.

      Mercedes is constantly trying to be all things to all people and it doesn’t work.

      Anyone who has seen the white plumes of smoke from an AMG sedan smoking its tires around a test track will attest to that. Some of us who have grown up past the high school boy gas pedal phase don’t give a crap that their German luxo barge is slow and heavy, they just want a place to put their bad back for a few hours… then buy a Suburban because it’s cheaper, roomier, and much more comfortable.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Is that coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster the little “you’re falling asleep, WTFU” thingy?

  • avatar

    I just drove the AMG version of this. Imagine a GT-R with four doors. I can’t say I noticed the E vs. S class part. I did notice the huge brakes, the 550 hp turbo v-8, and the seats that squeeze you as you turn.

    I don’t think that “value” is part of this deal. Over the top is. The best part is that the chassis was so well tuned that it felt like a Miata with some turbo lag on a tight 20-60 mph “reference road” nearby, and like a vette on the open highway. MB touts “direct steering” and yes, it makes a difference. Hit the AMG button (like the //M button for BMW) and the car tightens up suspension, trans shifting and throttle tip in…Woo Hoo. You don’t notice the weight of this thing unless you are off boost (1/2 second, maybe) or countersteering the beast.

    Practical, not in any conventional sense of the word. Still, if you want unlimited power in a four door shell with every gadget they can devise, this is your ride.

    Makes me cry for those fated to live in Camrys.

  • avatar
    JJ

    In Germany the price difference is about 16K. CLS350 starts at 64,5K, CLS500 at 80,5K. The 500 (US 550) does have standard airmatic suspension whereas the 350 does not however (I think about 2K extra). Other than that I don’t think there are major feature differences, so yeah…a good chunk of change.


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