The latest generation of Mercedes-Benz’s stylish CLS range has officially arrived in Australia, with three powertrains and a line-up spanning a price bracket that starts at $136,900 and stretches all the way to $179,529.
The CLS 450 spearheads the range, and sits right in the middle of the four-cylinder CLS 350 and high-performance Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 with a price of $155,529. Powered by Benz’s all-new petrol 3.0-litre turbo inline six, an engine format not seen in a Mercedes since the 1990s, the CLS 450 is the first model in Australia to feature this powerplant in Australia.
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All models will roll on 20-inch alloy wheels, with air suspension linking wheels to chassis. As Benz’s flagship four-door coupe – the CLA being its junior sibling – the new CLS already stands out from the crowd visually. Frameless door glass and a cut-down roof profile already bring a sleek and sporty aura to its appearance, but Australian-delivered models benefit further through the standard fitment of an AMG bodykit.
All three cars feature 48-volt mild hybrid technology and internal combustion engines from the German marque’s family of recently launched turbocharged inline four- and six-cylinder powerplants.
The CLS 450 extracts 270kW and 500Nm from its 3.0-litre straight six, while a larger turbocharger brings 320kW/520Nm in the CLS 53. Powering the base CLS 350 is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 220kW/400Nm outputs.
The new engines also feature a 48-volt electrical system that adds an electric starter/generator, dubbed EQ Boost, to assist the petrol engine. The electric motor nudges on-demand performance for short bursts – by 10kW/150Nm for the four-cylinder units, and by 16kW/250Nm for the sixes. A mild hybrid system only, it doesn’t deliver drive unless the petrol engine is already running.
The CLS 53 uses a conventional exhaust-driven turbocharger but goes a step further by adding an extra electrically-driven compressor to enhance low-rpm boost, helping to improve fuel economy and acceleration figures. The 1905kg AMG model will hit 100km/h in 4.5sec, though the CLS 450 isn’t too far behind with a 4.8-second 0-100km/h sprint.
Local fuel consumption figures have yet to be announced for the 350 and 53, but the 450 burns an average of 8.7L/100km on the combined cycle.
A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Australian CLS models, while six-cylinder variants feature all-wheel drive by default. The CLS 350 takes drive to the rear only. Self-levelling air suspension is standard in all Australian-delivered CLS models, with the CLS 53 featuring AMG-tuned settings for all of its ride modes. AMG has made further changes under the skin of the CLS 53 including special suspension geometry and beefed-up hardware to improve its cornering performance.
All models in the CLS-Class family come standard with a fat list of standard equipment, with digital radio, leather upholstery, a head-up display, heated front seats, doual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlamps and a 360-degree camera system.
Benz’s panoramic ‘Comand Online’ infotainment screen sits alongside another 12.3-inch high-res display that carries the instrument panel, a look echoed by other large Benzes like the E-Class and S-Class. Controlled by the company’s familiar rotary dial and touchpad combo down on the centre console, the system is the central interface for the car’s 13-speaker Burmester audio system, climate control and integrated sat-nav. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring is included as standard.
Stepping up into the CLS 450 adds power ‘soft close’ doors and a sports exhaust to the equipment list, plus a larger fuel tank (80 litres versus the 350’s 66 litres), anti-theft alarm, air ioniser and fragrance dispenser, plus what Mercedes calls “Energizing Comfort control” – a series of in-car exercise programs to help reduce fatigue on long drives.
The CLS53 gets a unique AMG wheel design and will be visually distinctive via a twin-blade radiator grille that is specific to the ‘53’ range. Wireless smartphone charging and seats with active bolsters that inflate during hard cornering are also standard, while said seats come clothed in high-grade Nappa leather.
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On all models a three-seat rear bench means the CLS is now a five-seater for the first time, rather than limiting the space to four. Boot space is 520 litres, which can be expanded by folding the 40/20/40 split seat-back.
A special Edition 1 launch package will be available for the first year of sale. Copper is the theme, with numerous interior highlights including contrasting copper stitching on black leather upholstery across the seats, console, dashboard and door panels, and copper piping on the floor mats. Edition 1 badging and an exclusive IWC analogue clock round out the cabin changes. Outside, a unique diamond grille with matte chrome pins and chrome inserts with a copper-coloured shimmer will set it apart.
The CLS 450 has arrived in Australia, with the CLS 350 and CLS53 set to arrive later in the year.
- Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 - $136,900
- Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 - $155,529
- Mercedes-AMG CLS53 - $179,529