MER­CEDES-BENZ CLS 450

The ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tems of Mer­cedes-Benz CLS 450 are easy to use with il­lu­mi­nated icons in the in­stru­ment clus­ter.

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS - Robert Duf­fer has lot to say about this car

To the unini­ti­ated, the Mer­cedes C LS 450 four-door coupe can be con­fus­ing. Is it a C-Class? Is it a two-door? Is it ugly, like crossover coupes? No, to all of the above. The third-gen­er­a­tion C LS 450 is much higher up the lux­ury lad­der than the C-Class, slot­ting be­tween the E- and S-Class. It has one of the most sump­tu­ous in­te­ri­ors this side of May­bach, sit­ting at the in­ter­sec­tion of gor­geous de­sign and so­phis­ti­cated func­tion­al­ity. And it got bet­ter with each day be­hind the wheel.

That’s ex­actly what should be ex­pected with a start­ing price of $71,700, nearly dou­ble the start­ing point of a plain old C-Class. There is where I might lose you: The tester added $29,705 in op­tions.

We could lose the Burmester 3D-sur­round sound sys­tem ($5,400), power rear sun­shade ($440), heated rear seats ($580) and still re­tain its lux­u­ri­ous essence.

What about that Mac chi a to Beige/ Ti­tian Red Nappa leather pack­age for $4,900? Those cream-coloured heated and ven­ti­lated seats have minis­cule red dots for the vent holes. Then there is the lush cream-col­ored mats, which is just aw­ful to have with kids, but who’s buy­ing a six­ig­ure four-door coupe with kids in mind?

The tester had a black pi­ano low­ing wood trim across the dash and door pan­els. The mar­riage of mixed ma­te­ri­als, with the cream­coloured un­der­side and the soft brown leather up­per dash, im­bued the cabin with calm and class. The four tur­bine-style cen­tre vents had mul­ti­colour ac­cent light­ing (64 colour hues) that did not feel silly.

Raise the temp and the vents glow red for a mo­ment. The silly is the en­er­giz­ing com­fort pack­age ($550) that au­to­mat­i­cally blends in­te­rior lights, cli­mate and even fra­grances to put you in one of six moods from joy to train­ing, which has mus­cle ex­er­cises to work out the kinks dur­ing lon­grange driv­ing.

There are two 12.3-inch dig­i­tal dis­plays, one in the cen­tre screen for mul­ti­me­dia and an ex­cel­lent backup cam­era pro­jec­tion. That cam­era emerges from the tri-star badge on the trunk, like some spy car.

The other 12.3-inch dis­play is the in­stru­ment clus­ter. It has a hor­i­zon­tal menu be­tween the speedome­ter and tachome­ter that mim­ics the lay­ered mul­ti­me­dia dis­play in the cen­ter screen. In­stead of us­ing the con­troller dial in the con­sole, driv­ers can keep their hands on the wheel and ap­pre­ci­ate the charms of the op­pos­able thumb. In­stead of ar­rows, but­tons or even di­als for steer­ing wheel con­trols, Mer­cedes uses minia­ture touch­pad squares on the wheel. Roll the thumb over it to scroll, push down to ac­cess.

The ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tems are easy to use with il­lu­mi­nated icons in the in­stru­ment clus­ter to keep the driver aware. Adap­tive cruise con­trol goes to a stop and holds for three sec­onds be­fore the driver needs to in­ter­vene. Very con­ve­nient. The cabin is one of the qui­etest we’ve tested aside from Rolls-Royce, and the air sus­pen­sion in com­fort mode soaks up road im­per­fec­tions.

All of these com­forts and con­ve­niences aren’t even the most note­wor­thy thing about the not­coupe: The CLS 450 is a hy­brid. No, not a Prius-type hy­brid, but a next level mild hy­brid that most au­tomak­ers will be turn­ing to in the nascent elec­tri­ica­tion age.

Mer­cedes uses a 48-volt starter/ al­ter­na­tor mo­tor wedged be­tween the three-liter tur­bocharged straight six-cylin­der en­gine and the nine­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. It’s called EQ Boost, which is the nam­ing sys­tem un­der­scor­ing its elec­tri­ica­tion pro­gram.

It saves gas, sure, and pow­ers the not-coupe for brief dis­tances at low speed or while coast­ing. It has re­gen brak­ing and a more ad­vanced start/stop en­gine shut­off. Most im­por­tantly, it adds 21 horse­power and a bunch of torque to this all­new 362-horse­power in­line en­gine.

If it sounds com­pli­cated, you’ll never no­tice it be­hind the wheel ex­cept for the dash dis­play. The power shifts are so smooth and in­te­grated that I had to read about it to be­lieve what was hap­pen­ing and how. It’s quick and pow­er­ful and un­der­stated, which is the essence of the CLS 450.

The four-door coupe is not all that strik­ing from the out­side, and the ruby black metal­lic paint was a brown chameleon that didn’t ac­cen­tu­ate the sleek coupe­like lines. But once in­side, en­sconced in lux­ury and pow­ered by the fu­ture, it justi­ies the six ig­ures, even as a long and low four-door coupe.

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