Date registered: Dec 2009
Vehicle: 14 CLS550 4matic, 15 GLK350 4matic
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Quoted: 2 Post(s)
C218 CLS-Class - New Owner Impressions & Photos
CLS 550 4matic Impressions ( after one week of ownership, driven in the Swiss Alps, German Autobahn, Austrian regular roads )
Seating: The seats are pretty comfortable but also quite supportive. They hug me pretty well despite me not ordering the multi contour seat feature. Among the cars I have test driven recently ( Jag F-Type, Lexus IS F-sport, Audi S7, S6, BMW 650GC, Caddy ATS 3.6 ) the seats are on the upper end of supportive. Only the Lexus IS F-sport has more supportive seats.
Headliner: not sure if the 2013s and 2012s got a full black headliner with the black sport leather option – I do not remember seeing it in the 2013 CLS’s I test drove. But I got a full black headliner and I quite like it.
I quite like the central multi function display inside the speedo. Takes some time to get used to the steering wheel controls for the central MFD but I like the ability to display different things there in color with different compartments to it. Favorite display for now on the central MFD is the Distronic radar display showing me what it sees ahead.
HUD: no HUD unlike the S7 and 650GC fully optioned out so MB loses out here but considering I paid less than a similarly equipped S7 and 650GC, I am OK with this. I view the HUD as cool to have but not strictly necessary anyway.
Regarding the Nav screen, had some concerns before purchase that it was too small compared with the S7 and 650GC. But after driving around for a week, I am totally OK with it – screen resolution is nice and the fact that the top and bottom bars disappear when not required mean the smallish 7-inch size does not actually limit me as I glance at the nav screen when driving. Better screen resolution than any of my currently owned cars helps the positive impression.
Comand via the main Nav screen: a little adaptation needed compared with older systems that I am used to from Lexus/Acura. The upper bar and lower bar skip is not the most user friendly but is workable after you understand the logic behind it. Had no trouble entering addresses, easy to follow instructions come through on screen and through the audio. I’d call it equal with Lexus/Acura nav interfaces.
No problem negotiating narrow winding Swiss/Austrian alpine roads at regular speeds – even when cornering sharply ( including hairpin turns ), I felt the car had a lot more grip left in it. And this was with 3 passengers and a trunk load of luggage. At highway speeds, the car is everything I expected – solid, secure, very moderate road noise, nearly no wind noise, feels like it could do 180 mph easily if need be. Just today I had to floor it for a few seconds to pass someone when there was only a limited amount of passing lane space left for me, unfortunately had the tranny and engine in Eco mode rather than Sport. But acceleration response was still very strong so it was pretty easy to slip by the other car on a curving Austrian road.
Switching between Sport and Comfort Airmatic settings makes a real difference. On straight highways at high speeds, Comfort works fine. But on winding roads, I like the Sport setting better – everything just feels way tighter.
Switching between Eco and Sport setting for the tranny/throttle also makes a real difference. I’ll be advising the wife to use Eco all the way when she drives and I will alternate between Eco and Sport tranny/throttle settings. In flowing but heavy traffic, Sport is better cos the throttle responds waaay faster if you need to switch lanes quickly. But the one criticism of the tranny mapping that I heard about before is true: sometimes, the tranny has a hard time deciding which gear to use when on an uphill climb and accelerating. You then get slight jerkiness as you switch down into a lower gear, then switch back up as the tranny decides what to do. The solution is easy for those of us who have the wheel packages – just get into manual and shift yourself with the paddles. And I guess this is still a little better than the Audi clunk when you slow to a stop while driving in dynamic settings and the Audi DCT shifts down for you. I experienced that clunk in both an S7 and S6 and it can be pretty harsh.
Straight line highway passing punch is solid as expected. Hearing that V8 rumble is a real pleasure and the power delivery is effortless. Of course it’s better in the Sport throttle/tranny setting mode but no slouch even in Eco mode. The few times I had to step on it to get past someone on the highway was real easy. ( And remember, full trunk of luggage, 3 passengers )
Distronic is much more than I expected: the car can totally stop itself in cruise control mode and handling slow and heavy traffic is real easy cos the radar and computers do everything for you. The capability of the front looking radar is impressive: it can detect even a bicycle some distance ahead. The thing is sometimes on winding roads, depending on the angle of approach for oncoming traffic, Distronic thinks for a brief period that there could be a head on collision risk so you get a momentary collision warning beep and the red triangle flashes in your instrument cluster. But the system corrects itself in a second once the oncoming traffic is no longer in the radar’s direct forward field of view. A couple of impressive discoveries: Distronic can maintain a radar lock on the vehicle in front even on winding roads when the car in front may be off your central boresight. I suspect the radar might have a tilting feature that looks a little left or right depending on where your steering wheel is directed. The only time Distronic breaks radar lock is when the car in front is about 40+ degrees angle off your nose, e.g. following someone through a hairpin corner. I cannot complain about this radar break lock – this is an MB, not an F22 stealth fighter. So I am good with this.
Lane Tracking: Another interesting discovery – the lane tracking stick shaking feature seems to alert you to which side of the road you are drifting towards. When you cross to the left, the left side of your steering wheel shakes and when you drift right, the right side of your wheel shakes. Quite a nice surprise !
Parktronic: generally as expected when the object is a wall or something large like that. But when you get close to shrubs or a small plant ( parking adjacent to a flower bed ), the system jumps from no warning to the red alert mode very quickly. Might be a technology limitation in detecting plants but whatever, I am not going to make an issue of inability to detect plants well.
Rear view cam/guidelines: Man I am glad I got a 2014 – the rear view guidelines work as I expected and there could be a new feature that I did not know about before: like Audi and BMW ( and Porsche ), MB now provides you a little pic of the car in your nav screen and highlights the part of the car where the Parktronic sensors detect an object. Either I totally missed this when test driving the 2013 CLSs over the last year, or it is a nice new feature for 2014. I like it.
I still would like to get folding mirrors – I parked right by a CLS350 CDI Shooting Brake in exactly the same color and it just irritated me that his mirrors folded and mine were not.
Why can we not get rear seat A/c controls in the US ? And the rest of the world can ?