Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé driving review

Meet the Merc that does NOT dazzle!

Non-alcoholic cocktails and night drives are extremely unsual for car launches. But, then again, the new Mercedes-Benz four-door CLS Coupé is an extremely unsual car as CHARLEEN CLARKE discovers.

I probably need to explain the comment about mocktails and nocturnal drives first – because I fear that motoring journalists could perhaps earn a reputation for a bunch of drunks who don’t like to work long hours. That’s simply not true. Promise. With the exception of one truly delightful drunk, who fell into the flower arrangement at a Car of the Year function (bless his soul), I hardly ever see motoring journalists behaving badly (fingers crossed). And the night-drive thing? Well, generally, cars are tested during the day
when we can truly admire their sparkling lines and magnificent interiors.

Not with the facelifted CLS. On arriving at the launch venue (Arabella), we were presented with mocktails and told to go on a night drive. The reason for the mocktails was obvious; the friendly folk from Mercedes-Benz didn’t want us tossing their cars down the side of a mountain pass. And the night drive? Well, that was the only way that we could truly experience the car’s brilliant lights.

I exaggerate not. The LED headlamps on the CLS are better than anything I’ve ever experienced on a car. They look around corners (even before you’ve turned the steering wheel), they light up the road like it’s the fourth of July and they don’t dazzle oncoming motorists. The really cool thing is that you can keep on these anti-dazzle main-beam headlamps permanently – you don’t need to bother to dip your beams (the ever-clever CLS does that for you).

Mercedes-Benz CLS lights

But, whereas the lights don’t dazzle, the rest of the car certainly does. While the interior is decidedly first class, the cars boast powerplants par excellence. You can, of course, go for sedate and sensible. But I say sod that,– toss caution to the wind and snap up the CLS 63 AMG S for a mere R1,6 mill. Under its hood lurks a delectable 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine which, in theory, can consume a mere 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres (NEDC combined; 231 grams CO2 per kilometre). We say “in theory” because you’’d need to be driving like Miss Daisy. And this AMG ain’t that kinda car.

Something else that’s worth a mention is the world’s first nine-speed automatic transmission with hydrodynamic torque converter in the premium segment: 9G-TRONIC is deployed in the CLS 350 BlueTEC and CLS 500. Nine forward gears! Where is the motoring world headed to?

I cannot answer that question. But one thing is certain: I’d like to get there in a CLS.


CLS 250 CDI                        –  R760 000 (138 CO2 R 1,847)

CLS 350 BlueTec                 – R893 000 (142 CO2 R 2258)

CLS 400                               – R888 000  (179 CO2 R 6 054)

CLS 500                               – R1 120 000 (199 CO2 R 8,106.00)

CLS 63 AMG S                     – R 1 600 000  (231 CO2 R 11,389.00)