The achingly beautiful Mercedes-Benz CLS range has been given a facelift and two new engines - including turbodiesel power - for 2008.
With its radical yet graceful fastback styling, rendering it probably the most elegant of all large 4-door Mercedes-Benz designs of the last 25 years, it seemed improbable any improvements could be detailed onto the arresting exterior shape.
Deft restyling, inside and out
Fortunately Mercedes designers have not tampered with the overall proportions, instead only applying some neatening up in the form of a new grille, side mirrors featuring LED indicators and trapezoidal exhaust pipes. All new 17- and 18-inch wheels round off the restyling execution.
Inside the redesign centres primarily on a new three-spoke multifunction steering wheel - echoing design similarities to the one in the new C-class - and enhancement of the onboard infotainment system and controls.
The CLS features the NTG 2.5 telematics, which include speed-sensitive volume control, a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, an MP3-compatible CD and DVD player, as well as a Bluetooth interface which can establish a wireless connection between a mobile phone and the vehicle's hands-free system.
The Audio 20, Audio 20 CD with CD changer, Audio 50 and Audio 50 APS with DVD changer and LINGUATRONIC voice control system has now been upgraded to a 5-inch colour screen. The COMAND APS comes with a high-resolution 6.5-inch colour display, LINGUATRONIC for audio, navigation and telephone calls, music register for storing audio files, plus an SD memory card slot.
Turbodiesel power too
Two new engines have slotted into the CLS range, an entry level petrol and turbodiesel, increasing the range of models to five engine options and bringing two entry level models to the range, allowing lower price entry to the CLS range.
By introducing a 170kW 3-litre V6 into the range as the CLS 280, aspiring buyers who could not previously afford the CLS 350 can now acquire a CLS.
Diesel fanatics who yearned for the stylish lines of the CLS to grace their driveways now have the excellent common-rail injected CLS 320 CDI model to choose from, powered by a 3-litre V6 turbodiesel producing 165kW and 540Nm of torque.
The 3.5-litre V6 and 5.5-litre V8 petrol engines from the previous model line-up are carried over while all CLS models now feature the sophisticated 7G-Tronic gearbox as standard.
Those CLS buyers who simply need the last word in contemporary performance can opt for the CLS 63 AMG, featuring the ubiquitous 6.2-litre V8 engine which does duty in all Mercedes AMG flagships.
The V8 produces 378kW and 630 Nm in CLS tune - as before - but features a new AMG performance exhaust system to ensure the high performance V8 resonates as intimidating as possible.
Performance is in the supercar class with a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds and the obligatory limited topspeed of 250km/h. The most significant dynamic change is the presence of the Speedshift plus 7G-Tronic gearbox, which beyond enabling lighting quick shifts changing up, also blips the throttle on downshifts.
Styling changes to the CLS 63 AMG include larger wheels - now 19- versus 18-inches - of a new design, and an AMG sports steering wheel. An even more bespoke steering wheel - with a flattened bottom rim - can be ordered.
The revised CLS range is set to come to the local market in March, in synergy with European markets, although the CLS 320 CDI will not be part of the local model line-up.
CLS 320 CDI
CLS 350 CGI
CLS 63 AMG