Singapore - By now four door coupes are pretty much mainstays in almost any German luxury brand. Mercedes was actually at the forefront of this new category back then with the CLS before everyone started jumping on the bandwagon as the thought of having a coupe silhouette with the practicality of two additional doors took off.
In fact it became so popular that Merc even spawned a compact version of the CLS, based off the A-Class - the CLA. Now of course our focus today isn’t the upcoming CLA, but the original four-door coupe - the third generation CLS. But this isn’t the base 350, its the 450, a model just below the AMG CLS. While the soon to be launched AMG is an absolute beast, the 450 finds itself in a sweet spot for the discerning practical four-door coupe driver who yearns for power without being too shouty about it.
We love the silky smooth 3.0-litre straight six, complemented by EQ Boost that made the drive incredibly easy and enjoyable. This is further enhanced by the car’s jaw-dropping cabin ambient lighting and scent infused climate control. Perhaps the only drawback is the car’s infotainment system that has a steep learning curve as you are bombarded by a wave of options and controls, which might take a little time getting used to as its incredibly detailed with a slew of sub-menus and so on.
Looks wise, the new CLS continues with the basic outline of its predecessors, a long arch sweeps from the rear to the front before ending at the car’s new shark-snout facade - which incidentally will be the new face of all upcoming Mercs. The new car also loses some of its contours and lines that defined the previous two models before it, the style is more minimalist with lesser edges and creases, accentuated by pillar-less doors and slimmer headlamps.
However, the real party is in the cabin and Mercedes sure has outdone itself in this department, there’s a flowing ash-silver wood trim that encircles the interior, on the dash are turbine like air vents, while every crease has been lined with fibre-optic ambient lighting with 64-colours being made available. As a whole, the cabin is jaw-droopingly beautiful to look at, exquisitely finished and extremely comfortable.
The front seats provide adequate support even when you are in the mood for some spirited driving. The rear bench has also been increased in size allowing for three passengers to get pretty comfy at the back without worrying about headroom thanks to a less rakish roofline.
Taking centerstage on the dashboard though is the massive glass screen that features two 12.3-inch displays, one for the digital gauge cluster the other for the infotainment screen, driver and front passenger can input controls via the steering wheel, voice command or the centre column touchpad and click wheel. As mentioned earlier that is a tonne of options and menus to go through, which can be a little overwhelming for those new to Mercedes.
Just like the S and E-Class, the CLS also gets a slew of intelligent drive systems that help the driver in avoiding possible incidents while on the move. Powering the CLS is a 3.0-litre inline six engine that is force fed via a twin-scroll turbocharger to punch out a commendable 362 horses with 500Nm of torque through all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.
As an added boost, the 450 gets a 48-volt electric motor that’s integrated into the starter generator for an additional 21hp, what it does though is actually mitigate turbo lag, any delays during automatic start-stop situations and also assist in fuel-saving by going into coasting mode (shutting off the engine) during flat or downhill stretches of road.
For us we loved the way the characteristic of the CLS changes the moment you crank it into Sport+ mode. The drive immediately becomes positively engaging, steering and suspension firms up and even the idling RPM goes up a few notches. Our test-drive came with the optional 20-inch wheels which were more than enough for the massive car without sacrificing ride comfort.
On the move, even with the EQ Boost, there still was a slight noticeable lag when your gunned the throttle before the boost came in, while the car was well mannered and balanced when pushed, its still biased towards comfort instead of pure performance - something probably reserved for the AMG models.
As such that’s why we termed it the Cruise Missile, the CLS 450 is probably the best four-door coupe to take out on a high-speed cruise, looking fantastic inside out, it balances performance and luxury with incredible poise.