As it weaves through the streets of Barcelona and past some of the most iconic architecture in the world, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS finds its place seamlessly.
This mid-size four-door coupe, now in its third generation, emphasizes classic Mercedes-Benz presentation in a fashion-forward style, meaning that the CLS fits in just as well nestled between gothic facades as it does on modern driveways.
Its unmistakable coupe silhouette—the flat base and symmetrical arch of the window lines, the low roof profile, the rounded trunk lid—is pulled together with elements of a new design language that Mercedes-Benz calls “sensual purity.” Sharp edges have been softened, most notably on the shoulder line on the doors, which now curves gently around the handles to create a more subtle and refined appearance with reflections that look like fine art themselves.
Inside, for the first time, the CLS is configured to seat up to five passengers. The sweeping lines of the dashboard house an adjustable interior lighting system that now also integrates the air vents. This lighting plays a key role in an available feature dubbed Energizing Comfort Control, which uses six pre-programmed modes to automatically adjust the interior ambience through lighting colour, seat heating and cooling, massaging, scent control, and music. Through settings such as Joy and Warmth, a push of a button effectively transforms the CLS into a rolling spa.
The integrated digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen accept adjustments through either the Mercedes signature dial-and-touchpad interface on the centre console or a pair of thumbpads mounted on the steering wheel. Between these methods, most alterations can be made without requiring that the driver look away from the road ahead. A customizable head-up display can show various combinations of speed, navigation directions, and the current speed limit.
A base Mercedes-Benz version and an AMG performance version will be available in Canada in Summer 2018, and although each comes equipped with the same gasoline-powered engine, the tuning is dramatically different.
In the CLS 450 4MATIC, the 3.0-litre, twin-scroll, turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine delivers 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. When this same inline-six engine is installed in the new Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+, its power output figures rise to 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet. This model also comes with sport seats with a custom embroidery pattern, red seat belts, an AMG performance steering wheel, the 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system with fully variable torque distribution, a speed-sensitive steering program, and distinct design elements such as round twin tailpipes in high-gloss chrome and the twin-blade grille that was previously exclusive to V8 models.
On the roads that wrap around the cragged peaks of Montserrat on the outskirts of Barcelona, the CLS delivers sheer joy. The Comfort drive mode in both models is more dynamic than the sport mode of some of its contemporaries, and turning it up to Sport+—particularly in the AMG CLS 53, with its quick-shifting transmission and optional air suspension—delivers a drive quality that’s sharp yet compliant, and more akin to a car much smaller in size. Both transmissions can be indecisive at times, but this is easily mitigated by engaging full manual mode and shifting with the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
Both iterations include a Mercedes innovation called the EQ Boost starter-alternator. This combines both the starter motor and alternator functions into a single powerful electric motor fitted between the engine and the transmission. It serves multiple functions: reducing turbo lag; delivering a boost of 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque under heavy acceleration; making engine start-stop functions and initial start-up in the CLS 450 remarkably silent—the AMG CLS 53, suitably, still fires up with a throaty roar—and managing the new gliding mode by allowing the engine to run at idling speed over long distances when Eco is selected.
The Holy Grail of Arthurian legend is said to be hidden among the peaks of Montserrat. With the new CLS, Mercedes is a step closer to creating a holy grail of its own.
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