Mercedes-AMG E63 S: First Impressions
- May 7, 2018
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I wasn’t really sure what kind of impact the third generation 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS would have on me. The first generation CLS was on my desktop wallpaper, about a decade ago. For me back then, that was one of the few modern cars, which had a perfect blend of sensual shape and class.
The company has given a mild face-lift to the second generation Mercedes-Benz CLS in India, upping the features list and style quotient. And this is my first encounter with the new CLS and obviously I am excited to meet the successor of one of my dream cars.
And it looks impressive. The ‘Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Model Year 2014 edition’ with its long bonnet and chunky Tri-star cocooned in the imposing radiator grille, separates the big Merc from the lesser mortals.
Exterior Styling / Design
The design of the current CLS has moved on from the faded yet fond PC wallpaper memories. It’s sharper now, still elegant but more athletic and aggressive than before. The grille is more upright and the new multi layered headlight has sharper edged headlights and has been garnished with new day-time-running LEDs. The addition to the updated 2014 version also includes a new Diamond Silver colour and neat new 18 inch light alloy wheels with 15 spoke design.
The most adoring aspect has to be its swooping silhouette with dropping roofline, which mergers seamlessly with the muscular rear end. It’s a really long car with beautiful body lines running between the heavily contoured wheel arches, announcing the more athletic character of the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS.
Like the CLS the competition has also evolved and though the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS has a lovely elegant design it’s not as sensational as the first ever CLS, which originally created this unique segment.
Interior & Space
The interiors stay true to the sporty but elegant theme of the CLS. It follows a traditionally Mercedes layout with some parts borrowed from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which blends with the immaculately finished cabin resonating richness and class.
Similarly, the seats and steering wheel are midway between luxury and athletic. The steering comes with audio and information control buttons and also hosts a couple of sporty paddle gear shifters. Visibility and driving position both get thumbs up from us.
The elderly might find it inconvenient to step in and out from the back seats due to the dipping roof and narrow door opening. But there is enough knee room and the seats are really comfortable. However, the rear bench is divided by a centre console and can accommodate just two, and the roofline compromises the headroom a bit.
Features & Equipment
Our test car had a good looking piano-black strip dividing the dashboard, fine chrome highlights and all-black leather upholstery. Also on offer is a Harman Kardon surround sound system, ambient lights and an electric sunroof, all part of the standard equipment list.
Other new features on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS includes an improved parking system with electronic zoom and grid lines; better maps with photo-realistic display; and updated COMAND system with an additional Bluetooth profile which allows integration of iPhones also.
Engines & Performance
Although its size is deceiving, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 is based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class platform. Under that mile long bonnet is a robust 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine tuned to produce a healthy 306PS.
Power delivery is smooth and there’s plenty of that 370Nm of torque available right from 1,500rpm giving it a sizeable mid-range and is equally quick to gather speed. At slow speed it sails forward like a luxury yatch, step on the gas and it darts ahead like a heat seeking missile.
The retuned 7 G-Tronic changes the ratios briskly and is pretty intuitive too. Tapping on the paddle shifters engage the manual mode which gives you the freedom to hold on to the gears longer for a sporty kick.
For a sports saloon it’s quick to reach the one ton mark, having a claimed 0-100kmph time of 6.1 seconds, and effortlessly crosses the 200kmph. The Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 is fast enough, but just not blisteringly fast.
Ride & Ease of driving
The ride quality like most Mercedes-Benz cars is exceptional. Whether on the driver’s seat or on the individual rear seats, the air-suspension ensures that the CLS feels comfortable. The electronically-controlled damping system constantly adapts to the road surface and the pace of the car, with the focus on ride comfort.
There is also the option to customize the ride quality into predefined Comfort and Sport modes. Even in Sports, the CLS irons out most of the road undulation, despite the firmer damping.
Also useful is the adjustable ride height, considering our driving condition. So if you’re approaching an unusually high speed breaker, the push of a button will prevent the CLS’ belly from scraping.
Handling & Braking
Its wide shoulders and long silhouette aren’t just purely for styling but also give the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 a large footprint, aiding handling quite a bit. Surprisingly, you won’t feel the bulk of the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 while driving. Most of the credit goes to its stretched 2,874mm wheelbase and the air-suspension. At a high speed, it automatically lowers, improving handling and reducing the wind resistance.
As expected, in Comfort mode there is a bit of body-roll around corners that can be curbed by pressing the Sports button, but it never feels like a sports car killer. The electro-mechanical steering is accurate and has a nice feel, but lacks the right amount of weight. You might not realize the weight while driving, but the 1.7-tonne kerb weight is clearly felt while bringing the CLS to a halt.
Price & Fuel efficiency
The Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 doesn’t come with the usual Eco Start/Stop function seen on other Mercs. So the company has programmed the CLS to recommend the best gear to squeeze the best economy in Manual mode.
Then there is the Eco and Sport driving mode which changes the engine behaviour accordingly. Using all the hints and saving methods the best we could achieve was 7.5kmpl and the lowest was 6.5kmpl.
The 2014 CLS 350 comes with an introductory price of Rs 89.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), which would propel the on-road price beyond the Big One, further justifying the 3.5 score it received for this section.
Both Audi and BMW have now entered this segment and have strong petrol and diesel engine options on offer and are also priced competitively. Despite having an excellent petrol motor, the Mercedes doesn’t have a diesel option which is a huge dent for the model. Having said that, 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS is no less a car. With this mild upgrade, it will be holding the fort till the latest face-lift CLS, with Multibeam LEDs which has been revealed internationally, reaches our shores.