Mercedes-benz CLS400D 4Matic

CLS com­bines driver ap­peal and a re­fined diesel to give it the up­per hand

Evo - - DRIVEN TOO - Antony Ingram (@evoantony)

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.

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