Mercedes-Benz rolled out their latest CLS at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. It has more of everything: tech, safety, performance, comfort, the whole lot. But wait, what’s this? This is very out of the ordinary! It is being propelled by a inline six cylinder? Wow, haven’t seen a new one of those in a long while. I wonder what’s in store, besides lots of torque?
The Mercedes-Benz CLS, which is one of those “coupe” things that has four doors (I see what you’re trying to pull here), has been around since 2003. So whatever bugs were there from the get-go, Merc has probably crunched them by now.
The real interesting part is that straight six. In broad strokes, the new plant gets something called EQ Boost and a 48 volt on-board electrical system. EQ Boost is a new, “systematically electrified” system that piggybacks onto the conventional aspects of the engine. EQ Boost integrates the starter, which is now a starter/generator hybrid unit, with the 48 volt on-board electrical system to add power as the CLS’s umpteen computers see fit. EQ Boost is available on both the CLS450 and CLS450 4MATIC. The plant puts out 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque on its own, and if it calls for the EQ Boost, that will kick in an additional 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque over short periods. Not bad, not bad.
So EQ Boost is sort of like a half-hybrid set up. Mercedes-Benz does not mention other batteries or separate battery packs, but does note the EQ Boost can assist, for example, when accelerating. They even say it makes driving without the combustion engine possible. For some reason, Merc calls this EV-only thing “sailing,” which speaks to me of serious schnapsleiche in the marketing department.
Other than the EQ Boost equipped inline six, the CLS presents new goodies like a consistent interior color scheme, widescreen digital instrument cluster, and some outstandingly goofy junk called ENERGIZING Comfort (all caps – more schnapsleiche in the marketing department). The latter focuses on wellness (no, really).
When it comes to the interior, Mercedes-Benz really seems geeked out on colors. The ambient lighting lets you choose from 64 (!) colors and even features lighting inside the air vents. Yes air vents. Why? Because that way, when you change the temperature setting of the air conditioning, it briefly changes the color of the air vent lights to show the temperature is being made warmer (red) or cooler (blue). How did we ever get along without this?! The CLS450 is equipped with a wide-screen, high-resolution central display that is more than 12-inches diagonally. If that’s not enough, two more 12.3-inch displays are available. There are three display configuration styles the driver can choose from, depending on preference, mood, or to suit the interior appointments: Classic, Sport, or Progressive. So what.
The ENERGIZING Comfort system is there to link various “comfort systems” in the vehicle into one, harmonious package. The system uses the functions of the climate control, including fragrancing (and yes, Mercedes-Benz made up the word fragrancing), the seats (heat, ventilation, massage), the surface and steering wheel heating, as well as lighting and musical atmospheres. This allows, and I’m not kidding, a “specific wellness set-up tailored to the mood and need of the customer.”
Thankfully there are no pink bunnies involved.
Six ENERGIZING programs can be selected: Refresh / Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort / Well-Being, and Training with three training modes – muscle relaxation, muscle activation, and balance – each with several exercises. Rumors have it that Mercedes-Benz is working on more ENERGIZING programs including Swedish Heavy Metal, Talk Radio Anger Bear, Haight-Ashbury, and Dryer Lint. Mercedes-Benz says well-being and performance levels are enhanced. I’m not sure about that, but I can tell you my laughing was seriously enhanced reading about it. Was I right when I said outstandingly goofy junk or what?
The new CLS is equipped with the latest generation of driving assistance systems, including route-based speed adaptation and driver support. Also included are Active Brake Assist, and the occupant protection system PRE-SAFE, including PRE-SAFE Sound which “prepares human hearing for the anticipated accident noise when there is a risk of a collision.” I’m assuming that PRE-SAFE Sound is a recording of a matronly lady quietly repeating, “Es ist in Ordnung mein Kleiner. Bald wird es einen Anschlag geben, aber du wirst in Sicherheit sein. Alles ist gut. Alles ist gut.”
Also thrown into the mix is Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Steering Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Active Lane Keeping Assist. In other words, you get more assistance than a military contractor come tax time.
Look, there is a ton of other stuff here. The Mercedes-Benz press release runs on for nearly three-thousand words and reads like a Neichze-ian screed about the coming uber-auto. Through all of this, one thing is extremely clear: The third generation Mercedes-Benz CLS is an exceedingly well thought out, well engineered, and well screwed together car. Following its debut at the LA Auto Show, the new CLS will arrive in the United States in the fall of 2018.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.