So, you’re a captain of industry; you need a car that fits your status and gets you around the country to your many outposts, where your minions ply their trade.
But you don’t quite have a chauffeur yet and you don’t want to drive a car that makes you look like a chauffeur either. So that rules out Audi A8s, BMW 7-Series, Jaguar XJs and the S-Class. Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6s are a bit ‘mid management.’ So what are the options?
Well, back in the 80s, Gerald Ratner had a helicopter – but they are seriously dangerous. And parking can be a nightmare. No, the only real option is the latest version of the CLS.
While it has lost its renegade looks, for a more obviously current Mercedes front end, that has probably increased its appeal to the younger executive. Especially in one of the sportier trims; our test car had the 19” AMG sports wheels, which if anything have too sporty a look, that borders on ‘Gangster.’
But the CLS allowed me to do 3 meetings around the country, travelling over 500 miles in one day, and be home on time, feeling surprisingly fresh.
And all without having to fill up, because I averaged close to 45 mpg, while almost flying along. A number of the CLS’ qualities added up to make this possible.
The first is the supremely comfortable and supportive seats, which you can set to hug you with the motion of the car when cornering. The seats combine with great build quality that suppresses any wind or road noise.
The second quality is the gadgets that all work perfectly. The Mercedes speed limiter is so much more helpful than conventional cruise control (which it also has). In traffic where speed is always changing – like M1 contra flows which are armed with average speed check cameras – to have a speed limiter that prevents you accidently exceeding the limit, but allows you to slow down and speed up with the traffic really takes away stress.
As does the hands-free Bluetooth phone and traffic jam-dodging Sat Nav. I can’t tell you how I got home from Manchester because when the CLS heard there was a jam on the M6, it re-routed me cross-country. Of course, Sat Navs that know about traffic are not new, but my experience is that they often get traffic decisions wrong. This one was spot on.
The third feature is the peerless 350 CDI BlueEfficiency engine, and 7-speed automatic gearbox that it is married to. I’ve mentioned the excellent economy. But in addition to that, at any speed, as soon as a slow-coach moves over from the fast lane, the CLS will just lift its shoulders and fire you past these more ordinary motorists. The CLS has real road presence, which also helps in getting through the traffic on fast moving A-roads.
But this is perhaps the CLS’ only downside. With its gangster looks and monster performance, it rather polarises other motorist’s views of you. It turns the heads of some, in a good, ‘wow-did-Batman-just-drive-past’ way. For others, it turns heads in a, ‘I-am-never-letting-you-out’ kind of way.
But I’ll live with that because in a lesser car, I simply couldn’t have visited so many minions in one day and been fresh and relaxed at the end.
What is the market like?
The previous-generation CLS started out as a £40,000 - £50,000 car depending on selected specification and options. And within three years and just 36,000 miles on average the price halves to a very tempting £19,993.
With that kind of mileage, the car will feel as good as new. Especially if it comes from a Used Approved Mercedes dealer.
The new-shape car will probably perform a little better, but we still expect three and four year old cars to be absolute bargains.
A stylish executive car, that now feels more like a young person’s S-Class, rather than the spiritual successor to the Austin Princess.