The 2010 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class returns with two models, and in either, there's great acceleration, but sometimes soft reflexes, according to editors at TheCarConnection.com and reviewers from around the Web.
A standard CLS 550 is plenty urgent, thanks to a 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8 engine. The performance CLS 63 AMG version amps up the numbers, thanks to an AMG-penned 6.2-liter V-8 with a muscular 507 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. Both pour on power in seamless streams, with the AMG barking out a more guttural tone when it hits a 100-mph stride. In either trim, the CLS is no fuel sipper. Edmunds dubs the V-8s "smooth and incredibly powerful," calls the CLS' performance "excellent," and feels the seven-speed automatic transmission provides "crisp shifts." Car and Driver agrees, for the most part: "the V-8 hooks to a seven-speed automatic that's as heartwarmingly capable as the engine itself." Even though it's mated to a slick-shifting seven-speed automatic, the CLS 550 musters just 14/21 mpg. As for the AMG CLS, Edmunds reports it shoots to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds-"supercar territory." 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." Though it has just five transmission gears, the AMG CLS does come with "steering wheel shift buttons," in ConsumerGuide's terminology-meaning shift paddles. The AMG edition's fuel economy is just 14/19 mpg.
In the CLS 550, power shuttles to the rear wheels, and ride motions are controlled by an adjustable air suspension that leaves something to be desired, dynamically. The well-balanced rear-drive chassis wants to be firmer, and the steering needs to be a little quicker to please traditional German car fans. If they opt up to the AMG edition, those handling problems are solved; the top version has firm but supple ride and steering feel, without much of a sacrifice in ride quality. In all, there's an appealing, luxuriant vibe to the CLS that's the opposite of the taut, tightly drawn handling of a BMW 5-Series-or Mercedes' own E-Class, for example. 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 calls ride and handling in the AMG version "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."