Mercedes has promised to launch 15 new cars in India this year, quite a lot by any standards. For perspective, companies such as Maruti or Hyundai only launch 4-5 products every year. Considering that Mercedes’ line-up in India constitutes 17 cars, one wonders how the numbers add up. This is where the CLS coupe comes in.
Traditionally, coupes were smaller, sportier 2-door hyper-active cousins of sedans and saloons, and a puritan would scoff at the CLS as a coupe. It has 4 doors, and at 4.9 metres is not quite as compact as an old-school coupe. Exterior styling is one of its strength. The long bonnet that characterises the front facia, but cues like the diamond radiator grille with black studs and a chrome-lined single louvre on the grille have flown in from the carmaker’s new design language. The multi-beam LED headlamps deserve special mention. Twenty four off the 36 LEDs work independently and adjust themselves 100 times per second. If you are on the high beam for example, and travelling on a single-lane state highway, the bulbs that blind the driver in the incoming traffic go dull without the high beam turning off. So while you still get an ideal illuminated view, the driver in front isn’t blinded either.
The cabin is high on quality and finish. The command online infotainment system is connected to cloud and Mercedes offers pre loaded applications for weather, news, Facebook, hotel search and stock market app. These can be accessed simply by connecting your smartphone to the system and using your mobile data plan. The Tune In satellite radio for example has access to 80,000 live radio stations and 2 million podcasts. There is decent space both in front and at the rear for four adult passengers. What is a little disconcerting is the lack of media controls at the rear seat. There is no panoramic sun roof either.
Video: Mercedes CLS car review: A snappier, smarter, refined version of E-Class
Under the bonnet is a 2.1 litre turbocharged diesel engine that makes 204 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque. The competition in the form of BMW 6 series gran coupe has a bigger engine, more power, torque and is faster. For a diesel it is a fast car but its sweet spot lies on how customisable the air suspension is. You can for example raise the ground clearance of the car by 30 mm by pressing a button. This will obviously help you while negotiating bad roads or weird speed breakers. You can also choose the suspension settings from plaint for comfort to edgy for sports as also the throttle response for the 7-speed gearbox.
Beneath the shell the CLS is almost like a twin to the E class. But while the E has started to look dated especially when you put it next to the new C or S class, the CLS with its space, refinement and gadgets is a more exciting option. This is for those who don’t mind paying a bit extra to look different and drive a car that is smarter than many others in the category.