Merc SA launches 'budget' CLS
Author: HAILEY PHILANDER
Merc has introduced an entry-level CLS to SA with a number of firsts for the range. Hint: It uses a twin-turbo, four-cylinder, diesel.
However the statuesque CLS four-door coupe is hardly a car that lends itself to undignified pursuits but it was on the R563 heading towards the Cradle of Humankind that I believed the Merc had met its Moses.
HAILSTONE TEST: PASSED
My driving partner and I, tired of yelling at one another over the pounding noise and being unable to see ahead of us on the road, pulled over onto what (in the rainy, hailstormy haze) appeared to be a relatively safe spot and waited excitedly for the episode to pass. It was no fun sitting in a tin (and aluminium) can with glass windows and a sunroof as Mother Nature angrily hurled frozen chunks the size of quail eggs our way.
And as other cars parked (or skidded) to the side of the road and muddy puddles formed, the CLS seemed to be the only calm entity in the equation, calmly plugging away in an environment where something equipped with all-wheel drive would probably have been an automatic choice.
That would not be the case in this instance, though. Journalists were instead on hand to try out Mercedes-Benz’s new entry-level CLS, following on from the introduction of the second-generation model in 2011.
According to Selvin Govender, divisional manager for marketing at Mercedes-Benz Cars, the new twin-turbo, four-cylinder diesel – along with the CLS 63 AMG launched in August 2012 – “completes the (CLS) range”. And the next step? The Shooting Brake, coming early in 2013.
The CLS 250 CDI Blue Efficiency sees Mercedes-Benz responding to the “increased demand for diesels” and the four-cylinder unit produces 150kW/550Nm, driving through Merc’s familiar 7G-Tronic transmission. The familiar engine – it’s already been applied in models in the B and C-Class, for example – is equipped with two turbos running in parallel (which helps to avoid turbo lag while still delivering the power owners of these vehicles with the three-pointed star would likely expect).
It does, after all, have a 0-100 sprint time of 7.5sec and lusty top speed of 242km/h.
And deliver it did. Considering the CLS’s size, the classy coupe's cabin was relaxing with virtually no detection of that familiar diesel ignition grumble reaching the cabin (although this could have been drowned out by the chatter of its occupants). It was also quick to get off the mark and the smaller engine was no hindrance to the large “coupe’s” overtaking acceleration. Since it is a CLS, high ride comfort levels come standard.
FIRST IN 250 CDI BLUE EFFICIENCY
Mercedes SA’s technical head Reandren Thulkanam asserted that this model was a demonstration of the automaker’s “concept of BlueEfficiency in full swing" because while the CLS 250 CDI Blue Efficiency is no slouch it’s frugal (average fuel consumption quoted at around 5.2 litres/100km and it comes standard with stop/start) and has CO2 emissions of 134g/km. This model, of course, uses a rather sophisticated engine so the use of 50ppm diesel fuel is wholly encouraged.
In a first for Mercedes, it has an eco display that uses three bars to measure your driving behaviour relating to acceleration, consistency and deceleration to provide guidance on how to achieve better fuel consumption.
Another first being introduced on this model is Merc’s active counter-steering assistance that, linked to the car’s stability progamme, detects when the steering is about to go awry and helps the driver to correct the infraction. It forms part of an impressive arsenal of 11 electronic driving aids, among them lane-keeping and blind-spot warning. There are also nine air bags, including a pelvis bag and flashy diode healdlight as part of an "intelligent" lighting system (a R12 600-option).
There’s also an optional AMG sports package (R28 700) comprising a flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel, aluminium pedals, AMG bumpers, alloy rims and AMG mats, specially tuned adaptive suspension and an M shift point programme for the auto transmission, among other car cosmetics.
The base price for the Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI Blue Efficiency is R700 000 and, as with all CLS models, it comes with an unlimited two-year warranty and a six-year or 120 000km MobiloDrive 120 maintenance plan.
Other CLS models:
CLS 350 - R 811 900
CLS 500 - R 1 019 700
CLS 63 AMG - R 1 350 900