Motoring with Tony Conlon: Mercedes CLS fronts up in the style stakes
Is it just me or have many people noticed that the frontal design of lots of cars have been getting uglier as time goes on?
There is certainly a lot of blandness out there – and I’m not just talking about the design of some electric cars. But not a day goes by that I see a car that looks downright sad.
I did not, however, encounter this on the Mercedes EQE or the 2022 Irish Car of the Year, the Kia EV6.
I don’t feel it would be fair to name the ugly-looking cars, but they are out there. A lot of electric cars have blank, grille-less faces. With no radiators they don’t require grilles, but surely they deserve better than sticking a lump of plastic across their visages.
I could say that the subject of this week’s report, the Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé, is gorgeous-looking - and its frontal design is indeed stunning - but I feel that would not do it enough justice. People need to see this car for themselves and understand what I feel is being lost by so many other designers and stylists.
It is possible not to ditch a classic look that’s been built up over decades when it comes to the frontal design of an electric car. Mercedes has proved this with its new EQE and EQS models. Aerodynamic sloping fronts that wear the three-pointed star allow these Mercs to look every bit as good as any of their petrol- or diesel-powered siblings.
Tall people may have to stoop a little in order to gain entry into this 4-door coupé CLS. While I do not thankfully have the frame of a professional basketball player, such is the attractiveness of the car externally and internally, I’d have happily crawled inside.
Sitting on 5-twin spoke 19” alloy wheels and painted what Mercedes call a ‘High-Tech Silver’ colour, my test CLS model with its sloping body style, wider wheel arches for the AMG wheels, bonnet creases and star-studded grille simply had star quality written all over it.
The interior of the car has been completely modernised from comfort, assistance, technology and digital perspectives. The leather Macchiato beige/Magma grey seating not only looked terrific, but the support and comfort levels bring the whole package to another
With traits of an AMG finish on the car’s exterior styling, braking and suspension systems, fine detail even extended to special floor mats. Sitting behind the Nappa leather-clad multi-function steering wheel were two 12.3” fully digital colour HD displays that brought a new meaning to the word clarity.
Once only a two-seater in the rear, even this car’s central third rear seat suggests it more fitting for a small occupant. The central console sports a grey open-pore ash wood trim.
This Mercedes comes with a large amount of standard kit that includes wireless charging, traffic sign assist, thermatic automatic climate control, MBUX multimedia system with extended functions, a navigation connectivity package and much more.
The interior is really well put-together and there is practical boot space of 520 litres. The only downside is the less-than-ideal rear window visibility. The CLS did, however, have a standard fitted parking package with a 360-degree camera to help compensate.
Unlike the EQE I recently drove, which was fully electric and which actually brought me closer to endorsing EV power because of its 640km range, the CLS had a 1,950cc diesel engine under its bonnet.
Capable of producing 190bhp, covering 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds and having a claimed top speed of 235km/h, this car’s almost 1,200km range and excellent fuel economy (5.6l/100km or 50mpg) left me divided over whether I’d purchase a EQE or CLS.
While both are reassuring to drive and comfortable, my head suggests the CLS for about two to three years and then the EQE. I don’t believe trade-in value should be a problem even then.
Price: €85,296 including metallic paint (€1,794) and special leather upholstery (€412).