Mercedes launches updated CLS

Third generation of pioneering four-door coupe didn't want for much, really – apart from a Drift Mode, obviously

By Matt Bird / Wednesday, April 7, 2021 / Loading comments

The first drive verdict on the CLS a little over three years ago didn’t equivocate: “Not only does it entirely warrant its position against the best E-Class it has ever faced, the CLS questions why you would need to spend anything more on a luxury car – it’s brilliant.” Therefore it should come as little surprise that a mid-life facelift has changed precious little about the model.

The most significant update, after another revision just last summer, is a refreshed design, with new intakes, grilles and bumpers at the front, a tweaked rear diffuser and a fresh range of alloy wheel options. The interior has also been modified in similarly subtle fashion, with new trim choices (open pore brown walnut and high-gloss grey wood) offered alongside upholstery colours not seen before on a CLS: Neva Grey with Magma Grey and Sienna Brown/Black. The especially observant will notice a redesigned steering wheel, too, the main aim of its new look being to help out with assisted driving thanks to its new sensor pads. “This enhances user-friendliness when driving in semi-automated mode”, says Mercedes, predictably.

And if all that isn’t enough, Mercedes is now offering a wider bespoke service for the CLS with this revised version. Which might seem surprising, given how many more cars exist in the Benz line up above this, but look at the biggest markets for the CLS: China, South Korea, USA. It’s easy to imagine demand for the kind of “very personal one-off” available from Mercedes-Benz designo being pretty high in those markets. So should the buyer want Emerald Green paint with Yacht Blue and Black upholstery, Mercedes can make it so.

Though the UK CLS range is expected to continue with five models – the CLS300d, CLS400d, CLS300, CLS450 and CLS53 – the least powerful diesel now benefits from the Integrated Starter Generator tech has seen in the straight six petrols. Power is up from 245hp to 265hp, with the 20hp/147lb ft boost also on offer from the ISG. As for the 435hp AMG flagship it gets the styling update along with the rest of the range (though no engine gets more power, interestingly), and its own range of new options, including a second AMG Night Package and an AMG Dynamic Plus Package. This latter one is especially notable for the inclusion of a Drift Mode alongside red calipers and a new wheel; Mercedes says it offers ‘racetrack-fit performance with a sporty emphasis.’

A limited-edition CLS 53 is also coming with this nip ‘n’ tuck, although it’s unclear whether it’s coming to the UK just yet. Mercedes will build 300, all in either Cashmere White magno or Selenite Grey magno, with additional equipment highlights including racing stripes (yes, really), 20-inch black wheels, both the AMG Night Packages, the Drift Mode and some jazzy red interior stitching.

With the CLS going into production this month, Mercedes believes that European customers will have their cars come July. For those that just can’t wait until the summer and can go without the new front apron or spectral blue paint, there are one or two CLSes in the classifieds worth your attention – this 2018 car is little more than £50k, where a new one would be almost £80k. Best like red, though…

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