It’s been a few hours now since we handed back the keys to the Mercedes, and to be honest it’s very impressive. However I should have expected that, as this Mercedes is the CLS 55 — it’s been reworked by Mercedes’ in-house tuner, AMG, to produce 350kW with a whopping 700Nm of torque. The factory states an impressive 0 to 100kph time of just 4.7 seconds, and recently the CLS 55 was timed by an American motoring magazine at a lightning 12.5 seconds over the quarter mile. But it’s not brute power that makes the CLS 55 an outstanding piece of machinery.
Looking from the outside your first reaction was probably something similar to my own: “Is this really a Mercedes?” In the past Mercedes has designed cars with function and purpose over form. First impressions are that this philosophy seems to have done a complete turn around as Mercedes describes the CLS as a coupe shape with the functionality of four doors, and it certainly has been tastefully done. But have the techno-mad Germans given in to style over function? Well, not exactly.
As the saying goes, beauty is only skin deep, and under the skin of the new CLS the Mercedes engineers had an absolute field day.
For starters, the paint’s clear coat has been especially developed with, wait for it, nano technology. Tiny ceramic particles — measuring one millionth of a millimetre — are mixed into the clear coat to form a surface that is said to be three times more scratch-resistant than conventional systems.
Even the long, flowing lines of the bodywork have a secret agenda. This car’s bonnet has been designed to deflect airflow past the windscreen wipers for added efficiency. Underneath, the engine, gearbox and suspension have all been covered by plastic panels to reduce lift, and improve stability. All these features help the CLS 55 to a respectable coefficient of drag figure of 0.30.
Mercedes Benz has always been admired for its innovative technology and safety. The body construction of the new CLS is no exception; in fact it’s just what you would expect from Mercedes. Front and rear crash boxes are bolted on to cut repair times down. The A, B and C-pillars are all triple-walled sheet steel. Aluminium is used for the bonnet and rear parcel tray.
For front passenger safety, seat belts and airbags are controlled by an electronic unit which has two sensors located in the front cross member. In a frontal impact the unit can calculate the severity of the crash and decide at what force to deploy the airbags and seat belt tensioners. Approach the car and you don’t need to use the key, as this CLS has the ‘Keyless Go’ option. As you come into range, the car recognises the encoded key and you need to do is touch the handle, and it’s open.