The fact Mercedes bills the CLS as a four-door Coupe should give you some idea of the practicality compromises. While it’s more versatile than the two-door E-Class Coupe or Cabriolet, if you regularly carry passengers then an E-Class saloon makes more sense.
While technically a five-seater, force your friends to sit three abreast in the back and it won’t take long for the whinging to start. While headroom isn’t awful, the sloping roofline makes things tricky for taller adults. The raised transmission tunnel limits legroom for those in the middle, too.
The standard-fit reversing camera enhances visibility, while the 360-degree set-up on Premium Plus cars improves things even further. Multibeam LED headlights make driving in the dark much easier, while Merc’s Agility Control Suspension ensures comfort over all but the roughest roads.
At almost five metres long (4,996mm), the CLS is a big car whichever way you look at it. It’s 59mm longer than before, as well as being 15mm wider and 18mm taller, too. It’s based on the Mercedes E-Class, and bridges the gap between that car and the bigger, flasher S-Class by adding a stylish sloping roofline and cutting edge tech.
An Audi A7 is shorter and lower, but ever so slightly wider than the CLS – though its more practical lift-back means it’s arguably easier to live with if you regularly carry big or bulky loads.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Naturally, the CLS’s sloping roofline does affect space in the back. It’s not as spacious as an E-Class saloon, yet all but the tallest adults should be able to get comfortable in the rear. The high transmission tunnel (necessary for the car’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system) makes it harder for middle-seat occupants, however.
Of course, there’s plenty of space up front, and the luxurious leather seats adjust in countless different directions – making it easy to find the perfect driving position. In our experience, however, some of the seats in the cheaper E-Class lack lower back support – so be sure they suit your body shape before signing on the dotted line.
The Audi A7 has the edge over Merc’s latest CLS due to its more practical hatchback-style lift-back. The CLS gets a saloon-style boot lid, which limits how much it can carry.
Mercedes hasn’t released figures yet, but those trading up from the old car won’t be disappointed. The boot seems a decent size, and should be able to swallow everything you need for a long weekend away.