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Long term tests

Mercedes CLS 350 CGI

Solid build, graceful design, luxurious interior, except for the steering wheel...

Mercedes CLS 350 CGI

Something people who only ever see the outside of a CLS perhaps don’t appreciate is how special, and how different to that of an E-class, the interior is. Even peering in from the kerbside – an extra murky experience with our car’s darker tints – fails to convey the feeling of security and privacy afforded by that high, gently arching waistline and the shallow, almost gun-turret-style glazing.

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Some might even find the ratio of glass to black leather and glossy piano-black wood oppressive. And on these grey winter afternoons, the all-enveloping effect is unusual to say the least; an imaginative passenger commented that it must be what travelling inside an expensive gentlemen’s wallet would be like.

Whatever, I never tire of it. The graceful architecture is matched by a reassuring feeling of well-damped solidity – door ‘tizz’ that has persisted since day one notwithstanding – and the fit and finish are generally exemplary. Audi and Lexus may build-in a classier and more tactile feeling of quality, but the Merc’s toughness and durability (the interior simply isn’t showing any signs of wear despite a far from pampered life) is arguably a more valuable long-term asset.

Perhaps Mercedes applies the same zero-wear philosophy to the steering wheel, but I wish it wouldn’t. It’s just not the sort of rim that gives you any pleasure to wrap your mitts around: utilitarian at best, cheap-looking at worst. It was the same with the S-class I borrowed while the CLS was getting its new set of wheels fitted: state-of-the-art cabin and a steering wheel from a taxi. There are more luxurious steering wheels in the options catalogue, of course. But they cost.

Running Costs

Date acquiredDecember 2006
Total mileage13,705
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month960
MPG this month28.1
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