SPECS AND VER­DICT Model En­gine

Friday - - Motoring - CLS 500 4.7-litre V8 turbo Nine-speed auto, RWD 408bhp @ NA 600Nm @ NA 250kph 4.8 sec­onds Dh426,000 (as tested) Highly re­fined, great look­ing and fab­u­lous to drive Rear head­room is at a pre­mium

and now comes the facelifted ver­sion for us to pore over.

There’s now a more honed front sec­tion, an up­graded cabin, and more tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions such as multi­beam LED head­lights and a nine­speed au­to­matic. All it takes is a quick glance to as­cer­tain that it’s ooz­ing with charisma. The ba­sic de­sign is still in­tact; there’s the long bon­net, slim win­dow line and a rear­ward slop­ing roof.

But it’s the lit­tle tweaks such as the new di­a­mond ra­di­a­tor grille, a pro­nounced front bumper with large air in­takes and the new dark­ened rear tail­lights with multi-level func­tion­al­ity that help to freshen it up. Granted, th­ese are not ma­jor changes – nor did we ex­pect any – but the CLS is still a vis­ual knock­out. he pro­file is un­changed and the front fas­cia now falls in line with Merc’s lat­est de­sign lan­guage. It’s the head­lights, how­ever, that have been worked on con­sid­er­ably. Spec those multi­beams and you’ll marvel at the tech­nol­ogy. It can ad­just the light dis­tri­bu­tion au­to­mat­i­cally to any road and traf­fic con­di­tion with­out daz­zling other driv­ers by us­ing a cam­er­abased Adap­tive High­beam As­sist Plus sys­tem, a bit like the Ma­trix LED sys­tem in­tro­duced by Audi. In ad­di­tion to the cam­era on the wind­screen, the new light­ing sys­tem uses four con­trol units per ve­hi­cle that cal­cu­late the ideal light pat­tern 100 times per sec­ond and con­trol all 24 high-per­for­mance LEDs in each pre­ci­sion LED mod­ule. Very clever, just like the pleas­ant blue light it emits when you un­lock the car. It’s a nice touch, as are the fetch­ing 19in AMG mul­ti­spoke light-al­loys on our test car.

If the ex­te­rior fails to im­press, there are a num­ber of new fea­tures in the ex­clu­sive Pas­sion leather silk beige/ espresso brown cabin to do so. The in­tu­itive 8in colour dis­play is the nerve cen­tre of the CLS and con­trols the lot; from the mas­sag­ing seats to the ad­justable air sus­pen­sion, while the cen­tral con­trol panel gains two ex­tra but­tons (mak­ing a to­tal of four) to speed up op­er­a­tions. The in­te­rior is sporty yet el­e­gant; the new three-spoke steer­ing wheel and re­vised cen­tre con­sole help freshen things up yet re­tain the so­phis­ti­cated na­ture of the car.

The cabin has been hand­crafted to per­fec­tion and it’s full of pre­mium ma­te­ri­als and trims (five in­te­rior colours and six types of trim are avail­able). My only gripe with the cabin stems from, fun­nily enough, the thing I like best about the CLS – the roof. The de­sign still equates to less head­room for those seated at the back – not that you’d want to sit there when you could be in con­trol of 408 horses.

The CLS 500’s 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 is epic. Mated to a nine-speed au­to­matic (9G-Tronic), it’s the world’s first with hy­dro­dy­namic torque con­verter in the pre­mium seg­ment and has a claimed fuel econ­omy of 8.5 litres per 100km. All of the power is di­rected to the rear and the de­liv­ery feels ef­fort­less. It’s ex­cep­tion­ally smooth on the move, too, and be­haves both like a luxury sa­loon and like a sportscar when you floor the throt­tle. The 600Nm of torque keep you pinned to the sup­ple leather seats. Once the ini­tial thrust sub­sides and you en­counter a cor­ner, the ac­tive side bol­sters stop you from fly­ing out the win­dow.

The only neg­a­tive as­pect that I could d find about the car was with one of its stan­dard-fit fea­tures – the Col­li­sion Pre­ven­tion As­sist Plus. While in traf­fic, and inch­ing slowly for­ward to the car ahead of me, the sys­tem slammed on the an­chors. It thought it averted an im­pend­ing col­li­sion and must have been pretty pleased with it­self. Not me; my cof­fee was on my lap rather than in my cup. The au­ton­o­mous brak­ing acted hastily even though I was in con­trol of the car, rais­ing the old ‘too much tech­nol­ogy in cars’ de­bate.

Some will say the facelift is too mild but the truth is Mercedes got the CLS right the first time around and it hasn’t felt the need to al­ter too much. The Panam­era in par­tic­u­lar has made life too easy and is play­ing catch-up. Un­til then, the CLS will re­main very much at the top of this swoopy four-door coupé seg­ment.

The head­lights ad­just the light dis­tri­bu­tion for any traf­fic con­di­tion, with­out daz­zling other driv­ers

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