Love it, hate it…
Merc’s love-it-or-hate-it CLS-class was first exhibited at the Frankfurt Motor Show a decade ago as the Vision CLS concept, with a production version (in the form of the CLS 500) making its debut the following year. The motoring public’s reaction to the 4-door coupé was decidedly mixed. Some people (including yours truly) loved it; others thought the designers had lost their minds.
Now there’s a new sibling in the ring, this one possibly even more provocative in terms of styling. Is the CLS Shooting Brake a large coupé, a revolutionary design of station wagon, or a bit of both? In essence, says the manufacturer, it’s a sports car with five seats and a large tailgate. Whatever. We like the way it looks, the precise handling (despite its formidable weight, the car is surprisingly agile) and the ease with which it soaks up the bumps, potholes and other delights of Gauteng motoring. However, there’s no getting away from the constraints of natural laws: drive it like a hooligan and the body roll will quickly remind you to settle down and stop showing off.
We drove all three locally available derivatives, distinguished primarily by their powerplants – the CLS 350 BlueEfficiency (with the V6 naturally aspirated engine), the CLS 500 BlueEfficiency (V8 bi-turbo) and the CLS 63 AMG, the first two equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The delightfully vigorous flagship is powered by an AMG V8 biturbo engine delivering 386 kW and 700 N.m of torque and comes with the AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed sports transmission. Looking for something even quicker? Prepared to pay for it? Then check out the “Edition 1” variant, which boosts these figures to 410 kW and 800 N.m for the modest sum of R145 900. – ALAN DUGGAN