Long term tests

Mercedes CLS 350 CGI

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

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.

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.

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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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