2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

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2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was new.

The Mercedes-Benz CLS is a sleekly styled large four-door sedan, considered by its designers to be a "four door coupe."   It offers a luxurious cabin and a completely unique profile.  Its unusual styling limits its usability, however -- the back seat of the CLS is no place for adults, and the trunk offers less usable space than most of its peers.

8.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 8.6
Interior: 7.1
Safety: N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Sexy exterior styling
  • Lush interior with first-class amenities
  • Smooth, controlled ride
  • Tight backseat space, with restricted entry/exit
  • Shallow trunk
  • Touchy brakes

2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Overview

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS is a unique car that defies easy categorization.  Mercedes calls it a "four door coupe," intended to offer the sporty feel of a coupe combined with the utility and comfort of a large luxury sedan.  The automotive press generally finds that it offers some of both, but all of neither.  The CLS is for those who almost need a sedan, but can compromise some room in exchange for a car that raises their pulse.  Automobile Magazine sums it up, "If you wanted practicality or rear-seat room or a deep trunk in your Benz, you'd buy an E-class. The CLS isn't about sensible. It's about sensual. It's about emotional."

The Mercedes-Benz CLS is available in two trims:  the standard CLS550, or the high-performance AMG CLS63.  The CLS550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 delivering 382 horsepower.  The CLS63, a 6.3-liter V8 making 507 horsepower.  Because of its unusual market niche, the CLS doesn't have any natural predators.  If you're sold on Mercedes but need a functional backseat, its S-Class cousin may be a more practical alternative.  The Audi A8 can outperform the CLS in many ways, as can the BMW 7-Series.  But if you're just attracted to the CLS' unusual looks, there really isn't an alternative, and though it is ranked low in its class, it sits in a class where even the lowest-ranked cars are among the world's finest.

  • "[The CLS is] about the kind of good looks that make you feel like a junior-high kid all over again, sweating and stammering in the presence of true beauty. We'll take two." -- Car and Driver
  • "Buy this vehicle if You're considering a Mercedes-Benz E-Class but want added style and exclusivity and are willing to pay a considerable premium for it; you need seating for four; fuel economy isn't a concern." -- Forbes
  • "Mercedes is striving to shed some of its stodge with the introduction of a high-end cruiser that marries the convenience of a sedan with the panache of a coupe." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "This new Benz is a serious piece of couture. Trendy, even. A stoic and sensible E-Class chassis stepping out in the vehicular equivalent of Versace hip boots. You can't not look at it." -- Motor Trend
  • "Judging the CLS500 based solely on the need for a roomy 4-door doesn't make sense. Wanting a pure performance coupe? It still won't satisfy. Admittedly, this new Mercedes isn't for everyone. But the CLS appeals to the dare-to-be-different individual who takes pride in shaking up the norm a bit. And that's a good thing." -- Road and Track
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