2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Performance

$26,559 - $37,318

2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was new.


Performance: 8.4

While one reviewer says that the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is more luxurious than athletic, others write that it offers balanced handling and a comfortable ride, thanks to its adaptive air suspension. The CLS550 also wins points from test drivers for its powerful twin-turbo V8 engine.

  • "Simply put, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 drives beautifully. The adaptive air suspension and variable dampers provide secure handling and an impressive ride quality." -- Edmunds 
  • "From a pure driving standpoint, the car is responsive in its handling, powerful enough to be highly entertaining and comfortable and quiet." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "Over the road, the CLS550 provides something similar to the E550 experience - which is to say, biased toward luxury rather than sport." -- Car and Driver (2012)
  • "How does 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 - in the cooking-grade CLS550 - grab you? We decided to give her a test drive, and we weren't disappointed." -- Motor Trend (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 comes with a 402-horsepower twin-turbo 4.6-liter V8 engine, which is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional on the CLS550. The EPA reports that the 2013 CLS550 gets 17/25 mpg city/highway, which is slightly better than V8-powered rivals like the BMW 750i and Porsche Panamera S.

The high-performance Mercedes CLS63 AMG comes with a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 518 horsepower at 5,250 to 5,750 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 to 5,000 rpm. An optional AMG performance package boosts engine output to 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automated manual transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard. Mercedes says that a CLS63 AMG with the performance package has a top speed of 186 mph and will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.

Test drivers write that the CLS550’s twin-turbo V8 has virtually no turbo lag, and that it offers more power than most shoppers will ever need. The seven-speed automatic transmission also earns praise from one reviewer, who says that it downshifts quickly and smoothly when more power is needed.

  • "The transmission is alert and responsive, downshifting smoothly when needed for even more thrust." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Also helping that effort is a ‘base’ engine that utterly flattens you into your seat with a simple brush of the pedal. It's hard to imagine needing any more power." -- Edmunds 
  • "While the CLS is not a true sports car, there's enough performance from the twin-turbo V8 to get, and keep, your attention." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "The engine sounds good, but it’s very muted, and under full throttle the V-8 growl fades beneath a blanket of turbo whoosh. The power delivery is sensational, though, with no perceptible turbo lag." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Handling and Braking

The automotive press agrees that the 2013 CLS550 handles with surprising agility. They say that a small turning circle makes the CLS550 more maneuverable than its size might suggest, and that its adjustable suspension system also delivers a serene highway ride. Additionally, a few test drivers praise the CLS550 for its precise steering system.

  • "CLS is quite agile for a car of this size, and a fairly tight turning radius makes it quite maneuverable in tight spaces. In all models, body lean through turns is well controlled, and the steering is tight, firm, and direct." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The electrically assisted steering offers good feedback, loads up naturally and quickens the more you turn, making the CLS feel smaller than it actually is." -- Edmunds 
  • "The air suspension and continuously variable damping combine for a plush highway ride." -- Car and Driver (2012)
  • "With all the zigging and zagging, we got to know the CLS's new electromechanical power steering (Mercedes calls it a world first for the segment), which provided a direct, balanced feel in every situation we encountered, high speed or low." -- Motor Trend (2012)

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