I AM not sure what to say about the CLS. This was my first drive of the new model – which arrived last year and replaced the “banana-shaped” original with rakish flanks and Bentley-esque haunches.
Well, there, I have already said something about this four-seat, four-door faux coupe. I was driving it through Twickenham, lost despite or because of the navigation system’s guidance. I was motoring sedately up an avenue when a bounder in a Bentley Continental pulled out of his drive, straight in front, not in any way acknowledging the fact that I, instead of operating the nose guns, or at the very least lights, horns and manual gestures, had just sat there in amazement.
Stephen Potter would have approved of my demeanour. I employ his “placid salutation” system of defusing the defusable quite often these days. It makes for a calmer life – and as a late convert to gymnasium training I have seen the surprising muscle power carried by some demure-looking blokes.
On my way back to civilisation (or at least the Blasted North) on a filthy, wet motorway, a young chap in a black Audi convertible suddenly began charging through traffic left and right before disappearing into the distance. I was pegged at a legalish 73mph on Distronic in the Palladium Silver CLS, sitting on alpaca grey leather surrounded by black ash wood veneers. Not quite a Bentley but near enough for a third of the price, nice knurled metal wheels for the controls, a wand-shifter for the seven-speed automatic managing the four-cylinder diesel which had been averaging 55 miles a gallon.
More about this economy later, but the traffic has slowed and then I see why. Mr Audi has pulled into the inside lane and seems to be retarding the silver Golf behind – driven by a chap who I presume may have remonstrated with Mr Audi. I’m so glad I have almost grown out of such stuff. I find a good way of unwinding is to choose a piece of empty road, no horses or houses or other H-things, and give the horn a good toot.
The CLS has a very suitable horn. I did blow it once briefly in Balham after being sliced up by a youthette in a T-reg Honda Accord. One bit of advice when sounding your horn – if you immediately regret doing it, simply look over your shoulder to imply that the impatient prat behind was the culprit.
Actually, the CLS defuses all that sort of angst. It is a serene experience, with its gentle refinement, drop-dead looks (though not the styling breakthrough of the banana CLS) and that superior Mercedes-Benz feeling which I do not get from many other brands.
Yes, it was not perfect. The navigation landed me in the wrong part of SW17. And at times the turn advice was too late, at times too early. It was spot-on with speed limit recognition but too often advised making right turns which were prohibited.
The main irritation was the harshness in the rear quarters over broken road surfaces. Visually, it was mostly lovely except for the various panel joins around its nose. A highlight was its fuel economy. A 40-mile city to village run with lots of opportunities for its stop-start to employ returned 47 miles a gallon. And for the previous 1,555 miles it had averaged 45 miles a gallon.
Random applause also goes for its clock, the foot-operated parking brake and the (£160) pull-out tray above the boot for picnic stuff. «
Verdict: Once seen, easily remembered. Economical and stylish.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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