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Diesel-powered CLS, a good fit for the Korean market

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Published : 2014-03-09 20:05
Updated : 2014-03-09 20:05

Despite its distinctive styling, strong performance and sumptuous interior, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has long been likened to a good-looking lover whom one might brag about but would never seriously consider marrying.

This may be why the preferred choice of luxury car in Korea has been the E-Class, which shares much of its underlying structure, engine and hardware with the CLS.

Now, in a bold attempt ― and at much risk, according to CLS fans ― to make the vehicle more affordable and accessible, Mercedes-Benz has decided to add a 2.1-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine to the existing bigger and thirstier models that range from the 300-horsepower 350 to the AMG versions.

After my recent three-day test-drive, I could see the reasoning behind this strategic move, as it was easy to see how the 2.1-liter model could drive up sales without harming the upscale image of the CLS.

Following its debut in 2003 as the world’s first four-door coupe, the CLS has become a design widely adopted by global carmakers. In particular, its aggressive grille and sloping roofline are often cited as the combination of two opposing yet harmonious styles.

It is also hard not to feel special inside the cabin, which is marked with generous amounts of leather, pulled together at the front with the CLS’ trademark flowing fascia. Such meticulous attention to detail always sets Benz cars apart from their rivals, it seems. 
Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI
 ― Design: ★★★★☆, Interior: ★★★★☆, Performance: ★★★★☆, Fuel economy: ★★★★☆, Cost and A/S: ★★★★☆

The driving is also powerful and elegant. It handles like a much smaller and more nimble car. I fully enjoyed the immense strength of its V-8 engine, while cornering was nicely weighted and accurate.

The car generates 204 horsepower and a torque of 51 kilogram meters. It accelerates from 0 to 100 kilometers in 7.5 seconds.

Among other things, the best part of the CLS may be its family-sedan levels of fuel economy. The car boasts a fuel economy of 15.6 kilometers per liter, which is more than double the 7.6 kilometers per liter of the AMG version.

Now that’s what I call husband material. 
The lavishly designed cabin of the CLS. (Mercedes-Benz Korea)

The diesel-powered CLS features all the latest luxury kit: airbags, traction control and stability control are all onboard. New technology such as driver attention alerts and advanced blind spot warning systems have been added to please customers.

The only thing that I didn’t like about the car is the “Korean-style” navigation system that was developed exclusively for Korean customers by German engineers at the carmaker’s head office.

Despite the efforts to address complaints about the tricky navigation system on German luxury vehicles, even tech-savvy Korean drivers would still find it extremely difficult to search and enter the addresses of their destinations.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)

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