Buying used: Mercedes-Benz CLS

Buying used: Mercedes-Benz CLS
Buying used: Mercedes-Benz CLS

A new one costs £70,000 so how about a used one from under £3000 instead?

Good as the new Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door couple is, upwards of £70k for a decent spec is a lot in anyone’s book. The range starts at over £57k, for goodness sake. But you don’t have to spend that much to get into a CLS. Nowhere near it, in fact. How does a CLS for just £2750 sound to you?

OK, it’s not a new one. It’s a first-generation 2006 320 CDI example, with lots of miles. But that’s nothing for a Merc and many argue the first-generation car is actually prettier than the current one. It’s a large and stylish coupe that will still make its four passengers feel good about themselves. It’s no wonder the E-Class-derived model was a trend-setter back at launch in 2005.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

Early versions were a 268bhp 3.5-litre V6 called the CLS350, a 221bhp V6 diesel CLS320 CDI, a 302bhp 5.0-litre V8 CLS500 and a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 CLS55 AMG producing 469bhp. Those two range-toppers were updated in less than a year; the 5.0-litre V8 became a 5.5-litre, and the 55 AMG became the 507bhp 6.2-litre V8 63 AMG.

All cars had rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard; air suspension was optional. All cars had at least partial leather seats, with electric operation, while climate control, parking sensors and adaptive cruise control were also included.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

By 2008, a mild facelift introduced LED rear lights, three-spoke steering wheel and a modernised infotainment system. Spot these cars from a two-louvre grille instead of four louvres. The 350 petrol became the more economical 288bhp 350 CGI and, a year later, the 320 CDI became the 350 CDI.

Most commonplace are diesels, and 350 petrols: the CLS55 and 63 are rare and ruinously expensive to run. Early petrol cars can be troublesome too though, meaning the diesel is the best buy: Mike McCarthy of Star Motor Service says he’d always go for a 320 CDI. “I have an E-Class with the same engine. It’s done 220,000 miles and is smooth and trouble-free.”

The CLS is a good seller, he says, because it’s good looking and comfortable. “The main issues are balancer shafts on early petrols, the gearbox speed sensor on petrols and diesels (holding onto gears is a giveaway), and the diesel engines’ inlet port shut-off motors.” They are located beneath the turbo – and McCarthy advises anyone who’s fitting a new turbo also replaces the shut-off motor regardless. Otherwise, it’s a six-hour repair job…

Mercedes-Benz CLS engine

If you’re checking out a used CLS, it’s also worth getting it on a ramp and checking the condition of the rear springs: they can break. If it has air suspension, look around the pump and system for signs of corrosion. While you’re poking around the body, look for parking scrapes (it’s a big car) and scuffed alloy wheels.

Inside, the cabin is robust, but the driver’s seat bolster can wear on cars with high mileages. Electrics are tough too: the most common problem is the wiring for the rear brake lights – it passes close to the boot hinge and, if it gets pinched, it can wear through.

What to pay:

£2750-£5000 – 2005-06 320 CDI and 350 petrol with high miles
£7000-£8500 – 09-on facelifted cars, 350 CDIs with high miles, early CLS500
£8500-£10,000 – Lower-mileage 350 CDI
£10,000-£11,500 – 2010-11 350 CDI
£14,000-£16,500 – CLS 55 and 63 AMG territory

Mercedes-Benz CLS

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