2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class: New Car Review
Mercedes-Benz calls the 2014 CLS-Class sleek luxury tourer a 4-door coupe, and with that nomenclature comes a distinctive blend of sportiness and elegance. Furthermore, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class offers executive-level comfort and the amenities of a more traditional high-end sedan.
Back in 2012, the CLS was redesigned for a noticeable shift in personality. While keeping its graceful style and flowing lines, the 2012 model received a more aggressive exterior to match its upgraded, more performance-oriented character. The CLS550 was transformed into a luxury car for the driving enthusiast, complete with greater power and sharper dynamics. The ultra-high-performance CLS63 AMG model got a similar makeover, with a high-quality cabin featuring new content, comforts and technology.
The CLS550 retains a coupelike presence with a sleek profile and a flowing fastback roofline for a balanced combination of elegance and poise. But it also offers a serious dose of attitude. A prominent grille is flanked by mean-looking headlamps available with a full LED treatment. The body creases are deeply cut, giving the CLS the sculpted physique of a world-class sprinter. Further enhancing its sporting flavor are a long hood and short overhangs. From all angles, the CLS model's styling telegraphs the car's considerable level of power and performance.
What's New for 2014?
The CLS models essentially carryover for 2014, though 4Matic all-wheel drive is now standard on the C63 AMG version. The standard CLS63 AMG 4Matic model enjoys a power boost to 550 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque (vs. 518 hp and 516 lb-ft). The CLS63 AMG 4Matic S-Model replaces the AMG Performance Package model, now with 27 more horsepower for a total output of 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.
What We Like
Gorgeous exterior; sharp handling; plush ride; strong engine; world-class luxury; cutting-edge technology
What We Don't
Pricey; unorthodox styling might not sit well with some; low city fuel economy
The base CLS550 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 that delivers 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. With its 7-speed automatic transmission, the CLS550 gets an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway.
The CLS63 AMG 4Matic gets a brawnier 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 550 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque, also mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy estimates drop to 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy and remain unchanged with the more powerful AMG S-Model.
Standard Features & Options
The CLS550 ($73,025) receives standard items, including a Harman Kardon Logic7 sound system, 14-way power seats, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. Among the available options is a Premium 1 package ($4,150), which adds LED headlamps, a rearview camera, keyless start and a power rear sunshade. A wheel package ($760) brings 18-inch AMG wheels, while the Wheel Package Plus One ($1,260) delivers 19-in wheels, a 3-spoke sport steering wheel and a manual transmission mode. The 4Matic option ($2,500) brings all-wheel drive.
The CLS63 AMG 4Matic ($99,500) receives significant performance upgrades in the form of a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 550 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque, as well as a sportier suspension and chassis modifications. The Premium 1 package ($3,690) adds active ventilated seats, a rearview camera and keyless start. A premium Bang & Olufsen sound system ($5,400) offers higher-quality audio.
Options available for the CLS550 and CLS63 AMG 4Matic include a driver assistance package ($2,950) that adds adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keeping assist. Parktronic ($970) and night-view assist ($970) round out the major options.
The CLS63 AMG 4Matic S-Model ($107,425) ups performance with 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque from the turbocharged V8, and offers the same options list.
The 2014 CLS550 includes front knee airbags and Mercedes mbrace2 emergency telematics in addition to the typical roster of safety features, such as ABS, traction control and stability control. Standard driver assistance technologies include Attention Assist, which monitors the driver's alertness, and a PreSafe system, which makes split-second preparations when an unavoidable accident is detected.
Options encompass an expanded suite of driver assistance and safety technologies, including Distronic PLUS cruise control, Active Lane Keep Assist and Night View Assist with Pedestrian Detection. But one of the most groundbreaking features for the CLS is Adaptive Highbeam Assist. This camera-based system will automatically lower one or both headlight beams when it detects oncoming traffic.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class.
Behind the Wheel
Living up to its striking exterior styling, the CLS is as much a driver's car as it is a luxury tourer. Power and acceleration are abundant, allowing the CLS550 to launch strongly from a standstill or to perform passing maneuvers at high speed with confidence. The CLS63, the car's phenomenal AMG counterpart, provides even more stellar performance.
High-speed handling and cornering abilities are elevated to match the ample power. The CLS550 can take a fast turn with remarkable grip and minimal body roll. Adding to the driving dynamics is the car's Electromechanical Direct Steer System. It results in highly responsive steering that allows quick, precise changes in direction and makes the car feel smaller as it charges through tight curves and switchbacks.
When driven less assertively, the CLS retains its relaxed touring personality; it's compliant and as comfortable as ever for long drives and the daily commute. But if the urge for performance strikes, the CLS will deliver.
Other Cars to Consider
Cadillac CTS -- The Cadillac boasts plenty of luxury, a sporting character and a compelling value proposition, but the Mercedes is more impressive on virtually all fronts: design, performance, technology, safety and comfort.
With more than $34,000 separating the standard CLS550 model from the top-of-the-line CLS63 AMG S-Line, you might think there's an entry-level sedan's worth of value spread across the CLS lineup. And while the different variants certainly have distinctions that will be readily apparent to trained eyes, the base model CLS550 boasts a rich enough list of standard equipment to satisfy most luxury shoppers. The dollar difference, however, will be most appreciated by performance enthusiasts who crave the outlandish acceleration and superb handling offered by the higher-end AMG variants. In this stratosphere of high-end sedans, the AMG models shine with their supercar-like capabilities and aggressive stance, making them compelling halo products for the cosmetically appealing CLS lineup, and desirable enough to convert die-hard sports car fans into sedan drivers.