The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS is as charming to drive as it is to look at.
Two powerplants are available in the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The base CLS550 has a 5.5-liter V-8 with 382 horsepower. Edmunds assures prospective buyers who may not have the wherewithal for a V-12 that the V-8 engines are still "smooth and incredibly powerful."
Acceleration is frenetically brisk, performance is rated as "excellent," and the seven-speed automatic transmission provides "crisp shifts." Car and Driver commends the automatic transmission, “the V-8 hooks to a seven-speed automatic that's as heartwarmingly capable as the engine itself.” ForbesAutos reports that the seven-speed transmission is standard and does in fact have manual shift capability for those who absolutely must shift their own gears—though this source says that "most will likely leave it in 'drive' and be done with it."
The 507-hp CLS63 AMG is exceedingly quick and downright fast but even less efficient than the V-8, with a city fuel economy rating of only 12 mpg. This version blasts from 0-60 in a mere 4.4 seconds—which Edmunds calls "supercar territory." The more powerful, supercharged trim of the Mercedes-Benz 2009 employs a five-speed automatic, according to Cars.com: "It has strong immediate power, and it doesn't taper off as speed increases, making for no-sweat highway passing and merging." Both versions come with "steering wheel shift buttons,” Consumer Guide says.
The C550 has an appealing luxury feel that’s quite the opposite of the tightly drawn BMW 5-Series. With a well-balanced rear-drive chassis and an air suspension, the base Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has a ride that is soft bordering on pillowy, and the steering a little slow to respond; the AMG version tightens it up dramatically, with firmer handling response but ride quality that’s still good.
Kelley Blue Book says, "When a winding mountain road is part of the journey, the adjustable air suspension lets you dial in just enough stiffness to encourage a little coupe-like driving." ConsumerGuide, as usual, has the most to say about this Mercedes-Benz model's handling characteristics. Ride quality is "controlled and comfortable on any road surface despite sporty suspension tuning...[it] confidently absorbs bumps with little impact harshness." The car tested here "turns with grippy assurance, surgeon-precise steering. Any body lean in fast turns is minimal at worst," while "brakes have exceptional pedal feel and erase speed with no drama." Edmunds sums it up succinctly: The full-sized Mercedes Benz "handles like a smaller car."