The 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLS was the first car to be officially described as a 4-door coupe. Today such slick form over function engulfs most of the sedan field, regardless of size or stature, and has even found its way onto utilities. Now, there’s an all-new 2019 CLS on the road. So let’s see if it’s still first among many.
Truth is, most manufacturers are doing whatever they can these days to get people tobuy 4-door sedans. But the Mercedes-Benz CLS has never been about sales numbers. This 3 rdgeneration 2019 version stays very close to the original 4-door coupe formula; yet continues to look even better, and also comes with a few new twists this time around.
The design of this 4-door takes more elements from Mercedes coupes than sedans. That means a forward-slanting nose, diamond grille with cues from the AMG GT, and a high waist profile with frameless windows. But, it’s all gotten more aggressive this gen.
Still, as before, despite the C in the name, it rides on the midsize E-class chassis, getting a wheelbase stretch over the previous CLS of almost 2½-inches.
Behind that aggressive face, sits a new inline-6 engine, the first from Benz in decades. But, it’s not done with nostalgia in mind, as this 3.0-liter is a totally modern engine; even packing a starter/alternator on the back end, that works with a new 48-volt electrical system to deliver a 21-horsepower boost, on top of the engine’s output of 362-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque.
A 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic is in place too, along with 5 driving modes, and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is available to replace the standard rear-wheel-drive.
At launch, this 4MATIC feels mega-powerful, with big torque delivery right from the get-go, as well asplenty of grip for exploiting it. We hit 60 in just 4.6-seconds.
Calm and steady is the theme for the ¼-mile, as the CLS streaks to the finish in 13.1-seconds at 106miles-per-hour; with the experience being way more tranquil and serene than you’d expect at that speed. Transmission shifts are adequately quick, and equally smooth.
It’s not that we hate turbo-4s, having driven plenty of them recently; but it’s a real joy to drive this turbo-6. It delivers seemingly limitless gobs of smooth power at all times, and is easily the true highlight of this car.
Base suspension is independent multi-link at both ends, but you can upgrade to Benz’s ABC Air BodyControl air suspension for the ultimate setup.
It magically turns this 4,200-lbs. plus 4-door into a nimble, well-balanced, handling machine. Though it does prefer a gentler pace over all-out aggression.
In a surprising practicle shift, the CLS’ rear seat now has belts for 3, instead of 2 as before, and more room thanks to redesigned front seats and the aforementioned wheelbase stretch; though it’s still not an easy place to get into and out of.
No such problems up front, where everything is first class, and easily outshining anything else in the segment.
The wide digital gauge display from the E-class, blends into the center screen for a smooth, seamless, high-tech looking space.
Even considering this is a premium model from a luxury brand, the list of standard equipment is quite impressive; and of course you can always take it to the next level with features like Headup display and Burmester 3D surround sound. LED ambient interior lighting as well; though it can be overpowering at night.
But no matter when you’re behind the wheel, the CLS feels like a true sport sedan. Sure, the luxury is all around you, but there’s also a connected feel that keeps driving a priority. We think that suits thiscar just fine.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for this CLS450 4MATIC are 23-City, 30-Highway, and 26-Combined. We averaged a mediocre 23.4 miles-per-gallon on Premium fuel.
Pricing for this 4MATIC starts at $72,695; stick with rear-drive and you can get away a little cheaper at$70,195.
Truth be told, after almost singlehandedly creating the 4-door coupe genre and influencing a wealthof automotive exterior designs, the CLS had dropped behind the many imitators it inspired. The 2019Mercedes-Benz CLS is out to reclaim its leading role, with the help of some powertrain electrified trickery, room for an additional passenger, and of course drop dead gorgeous style. And by the looksof things, we bet it succeeds.
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.1 seconds @ 106 mph
EPA: 23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway