$30,276 - $47,111

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was new.


Performance: 8.5

Reviewers agree that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class delivers impressive performance, with an abundance of power on tap in the base CLS550 and even more so in the performance-oriented CLS63 AMG and AMG S trims. Test drivers are also pleased with the quick-shifting transmissions in both models, as well as their precise steering and nimble handling.

  • "Simply put, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 drives beautifully." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is a true driver's car." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The CLS63, the car's phenomenal AMG counterpart, provides even more stellar performance." -- AutoTrader

Acceleration and Power

The CLS550 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 that produces 402 horsepower. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. At an EPA-estimated 18/27 mpg city/highway, the CLS550's fuel economy is on par for the class.

The high-performance CLS63 AMG and CLS63 AMG S both feature a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8. In the CLS63 AMG, the engine produces 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. In the S trim, it produces 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT transmission is standard. Mercedes-Benz estimates 0-to-60 mph times of 3.7 seconds for the 550-horsepower model and 3.6 seconds for the 577-horsepower model.

Test drivers agree that the CLS550 is a strong performer, with more than enough power to get going from a stop or for passing maneuvers. They say that both AMG models deliver blistering acceleration. The transmissions in both the CLS550 and AMG variants are praised for their quick, smooth shifts.

See full 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class specs »

  • "Power and acceleration are abundant, allowing the CLS550 to launch strongly from a standstill or to perform passing maneuvers at high speed with confidence." -- AutoTrader
  • "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. But you might not need to imagine very hard once you've dropped yourself into the CLS63 and feel its glorious, twin-turbo V8 at work. This is a truly majestic power plant, and it's complemented by a transmission that swaps gears with surgical precision." -- Edmunds
  • "Power delivery is smooth and full-bodied, matched with quick, seamless shifts. It's always a joy to have that much brute force at one's disposal." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The CLS550 comes standard with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional on the CLS550 and standard on the CLS63 AMG. Reviewers write that the CLS550 has nimble handling and reacts and feels like a smaller car than it is, with minimal body lean in turns and superb steering precision. They agree that the CLS63 AMG has sporty handling, though critics find that its powerful brakes are a bit too grabby. Overall ride quality is also praised, as auto journalists say that the CLS-Class is comfortable and composed. 

  • "Both models offer steering that is laser-precise, putting the CLS in the same league as BMW's 6 Series Gran Coupe. The CLS inspires confidence through hard cornering and high-speed lane changes, and it feels smaller than it actually is. But when you're not pushing it hard, the 2014 CLS assumes a relaxed personality, offering a fairly civilized ride so long as the pavement remains smooth." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The adaptive air suspension and variable dampers provide secure handling and an impressive ride quality. 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
  • "High-speed handling and cornering abilities are elevated to match the ample power. The CLS550 can take a fast turn with remarkable grip and minimal body roll. Adding to the driving dynamics is the car's Electromechanical Direct Steer System. It results in highly responsive steering that allows quick, precise changes in direction and makes the car feel smaller as it charges through tight curves and switchbacks." -- AutoTrader
  • "CLS63 AMG is even more agile, and the optional performance suspension further aids handling prowess. Braking is strong, but test AMG models suffered from grabby brakes and uneven pedal action with or without the optional carbon-ceramic rotors." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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