Mercedes-benz CLS400D 4Matic
CLS combines driver appeal and a refined diesel to give it the upper hand
T HERE AREN’T MANY DIESEL ENGINES we’ll miss when the government bans them during its next bout of blunderbuss-selected legislative decisions, but we might shed a tear for units like Mercedes’ latest ‘OM 656’ in-line six. In CLS400D form it’s the company’s most powerful diesel ever, producing 335bhp at 4400rpm, and putting 516lb ft to all four wheels from 1200 to 3200rpm – good for a 5.0sec 0-62mph time.
The figures imply an effortless drive and that’s exactly what you get. The straight-six pulls lustily from idle to a few hundred rpm short of its red line, but it’s equally happy hammering along in the mid-range, kept there with flicks of the wheel-mounted paddles and kept in check by powerful, progressive brakes. Even the tone is satisfying, sounding much like a petrol six played an octave lower, but back off and the engine plays its other trump card: near-silence and petrol-style smoothness.
Such an engine might outshine the rest of the car, but as we discovered with the petrolhybrid AMG CLS53 in evo 247, there’s plenty of appeal there, too. The S-class-influenced cabin is comfortable and tranquil, with easy-tooperate controls, a great driving position and just about enough space in the rear.
The steering is accurate and well weighted (with more heft if you select Sport or Sport+ mode), and puts you in touch with a precise and grippy front axle. The CLS400D uses multilink suspension with passive dampers at both ends, which work admirably at controlling roll and pitch in faster driving without a ruinous ride quality – only harsher surfaces trouble it.
If you’re a fan of the styling then the £59,195 CLS400D succeeds in matching luxury and driver appeal where its closest rival, the Audi A7 Sportback, fails.