Steer along an appropriate stretch of road in the Mercedes-Benz CLS and it rewards with a subtle and well resolved poise and response. It never feels like a sports car, but it feels tauter and more alert to driver input than an E-Class saloon. This is primarily down to firmer suspension and heavier steering, but the result is more than simply a less forgiving, low-roofed E-Class.
As with many other Mercedes models, the way the flagship CLS 63 S rides and handles make it an entirely different car. It comes close to matching the CLK Black Series for overall entertainment while maintaining the traditional AMG virtues of refinement and comfort. The CLS’s great agility and body control belie its substantial mass (1910kg), and it’s an engaging car to drive fast.
The CLS’s standard suspension set-up includes two-phase passive dampers, whose tuning offers a firmer response to big chassis inputs (like big cornering forces) than to small ones (like town-speed ripples). Thus equipped, and on relatively modest 18-inch wheels, the CLS displays a well resolved blend of ride comfort and body control. In less taxing driving, the CLS settles as the softer damper settings cast imperfections aside. There’s a little patter over uneven surfaces, but its ride is more cosseting than, say, an Audi A7’s, so it’s as relaxing as you’d expect a £50k car to be.