A new one costs Â£70,000 so how about a used one from under Â£3000 instead?
Good as the new Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door couple is, upwards of Â£70k for a decent spec is a lot in anyoneâ€™s book. The range starts at over Â£57k, for goodness sake. But you donâ€™t have to spend that much to get into a CLS. Nowhere near it, in fact. How does a CLS for just Â£2750 sound to you?
OK, itâ€™s not a new one. Itâ€™s a first-generation 2006 320 CDI example, with lots of miles. But thatâ€™s nothing for a Merc and many argue the first-generation car is actually prettier than the current one. Itâ€™s a large and stylish coupe that will still make its four passengers feel good about themselves. Itâ€™s no wonder the E-Class-derived model was a trend-setter back at launch in 2005.
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.
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 heâ€™d always go for a 320 CDI. â€œI have an E-Class with the same engine. Itâ€™s done 220,000 miles and is smooth and trouble-free.â€
The CLS is a good seller, he says, because itâ€™s good looking and comfortable. â€œThe 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 enginesâ€™ inlet port shut-off motors.â€ They are located beneath the turbo â€“ and McCarthy advises anyone whoâ€™s fitting a new turbo also replaces the shut-off motor regardless. Otherwise, itâ€™s a six-hour repair jobâ€¦
If youâ€™re checking out a used CLS, itâ€™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 youâ€™re poking around the body, look for parking scrapes (itâ€™s a big car) and scuffed alloy wheels.
Inside, the cabin is robust, but the driverâ€™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 â€“ it passes close to the boot hinge and, if it gets pinched, it can wear through.
What to pay:
Â£2750-Â£5000Â â€“ 2005-06 320 CDI and 350 petrol with high miles
Â£7000-Â£8500Â â€“ 09-on facelifted cars, 350 CDIs with high miles, early CLS500
Â£8500-Â£10,000Â â€“ Lower-mileage 350 CDI
Â£10,000-Â£11,500Â â€“ 2010-11 350 CDI
Â£14,000-Â£16,500Â â€“ CLS 55 and 63 AMG territory