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JohnC

Merc CLS 350CDi Shooting Brake

I snuck out yesterday to scratch an itch and have a good look at one of these. The first thing that struck me was that it is quite low given its overall size but to my eyes it is a very attractive design.

I looked at a used car since dealers appear to have shunned the 350 and everything they have is either a new 220CDi or 250CDi, neither of which kindle any kind of interest in me when fitted to the CLS although the performance and economy figures for the new C250CDi look very good.

First impressions are very good with a luxurious interior . The seats were Ok for me in comfort terms although they might be a bit lacking in lateral support. The leather quality is also very good and feels much better than my Dakota leather. However the salesman said that the leather can show its age and he think the fake Artico looks much better after a few years. His comments made me think of the homely feeling I used to get getting into the "nicely aged" leather seats in my Uncle's Rover 3500s as a boy so it's maybe not all bad.

On the move the car was all I expected it to be: swift, smooth and quiet. It was a very nice place to be and great for covering big distances. The driving involvement is slightly removed although there is decent steering feel, it is just a bit lighter than I like but overall it is better than I was expecting. The ride is generally very comfortable but sharp ridges and holes can still give a bit of a jolt. I would say that the 116i I had recently had a feeling I preferred but there is no doubt the Merc would be the much more comfortable to live with, if not more fun.

The engine was very good with more instant grunt than I expected. I think it has been set up to favour low to mid range torque because off the line it is rapid. After about 3,500rpm things aren't quite as quick and it doesn't build like mine does but in everyday driving it would deal with most irritants easily and provide very comfortable quick progress.

The one big(ish) downside for me is the gearbox and the column change. I might get used to the column change since it is really only on start up and when turning off that it gets involved but the gearbox is very slow to react to the paddles in comparison to mine and as a consequence I think the paddles would largely be redundant. The box is smooth and in normal driving you don't really notice it but I wanted to pull out on the motorway and tried to change down a couple of gears but by the time the box had sorted itself out someone else was getting a bit too close so I backed off. I dare say I could have used kickdown but that's something I rarely do because I don't like the feeling (or sound) of a diesel being thrown at 4,000rpm only for it to immediately change up and then go. In my car, I press the paddle and I am immediately in a lower gear ready to launch.

Other aspects of the car which might take some getting used to are the rear door opening is smaller than you would expect and you need to lower your head if you don't want to crack it on the roof but once inside I was quite comfortable sitting behind myself, albeit that 5'10" is hardly tall.
The boot is usefully large if not perhaps as wide as I would like and the quality of  the materials is very good throughout.

The newly updated CLS does look a bit smarter from the front with its fancy grill and there are a few dashboard improvements but my budget only stretches to a used 350CDi so I can't think of that.

I like it even though I know it won't be such an involving drive and it will certainly be more comfortable, although it is long at just under 5mtrs (still 2 inches shorter than a 6GC) which might make parking a bit tricky.

I think we will try to drive a 6GC next to get a comparison.
Roadrunner

A car which would make a nice addition to my fleet. Did you try it with the transmission in sport mode? That sharpens up  the auto changes and paddle changes quite significantly. Also, well worth trying one with Airmatic suspension. With that you get smooth and agile at the same time, although it will never be as involving as a 5-Series.
JohnC

Roadrunner wrote:
Did you try it with the transmission in sport mode?


I have to admit that I didn't and now I feel rather foolish. I think I was too busy looking at everything else with not the most helpful or knowledgeable salesman beside me. He hardly uttered a word.
PG

Re: Merc CLS 350CDi Shooting Brake

JohnC wrote:
....The one big(ish) downside for me is the gearbox and the column change. I might get used to the column change since it is really only on start up and when turning off that it gets involved but the gearbox is very slow to react to the paddles in comparison to mine and as a consequence I think the paddles would largely be redundant....


I would agree with that from the S class loaner I had. Sport may give quicker shifts, but also had the usual hanging on too long issue that all S settings seem to have.

So, as a cruiser it is great I imagine - as was the S'er.

It's a pity Merc don't face reality and buy in ZF gearboxes!
Alf McQueef

Interesting. Whenever I have spoken to people with non-AMG mercs they always slag off the gearbox. Yet BMW's and Jaguars from the 6 speed ZF box onwards (which is ages ago now - nearly 10 years) have great shifts and fast manual shifts that always respond to inputs. For a company selling nearly all of their cars as autos, why have they persisted with their own crap box?
franki68

Alf McQueef wrote:
Interesting. Whenever I have spoken to people with non-AMG mercs they always slag off the gearbox. Yet BMW's and Jaguars from the 6 speed ZF box onwards (which is ages ago now - nearly 10 years) have great shifts and fast manual shifts that always respond to inputs. For a company selling nearly all of their cars as autos, why have they persisted with their own crap box?


the amg boxes are shit as well,I think with the n/a engines they worked ok,but with the turbo engines they seem very primitive,floor the throttle and then wait 1 second whilst the gearbox changes down,and another second for the turbos to wind up.
Mind you makes the cars seem mental whilst on boost.
Martin

Interesting.  I thought it was a good option for me in paper, but the seats aren't comfortable for me and several runs as a driver and passenger in a current E put me off anyway.  Lindsay thinks they look like a Hearse, which wouldn't have stopped me getting one, but now that's all I can think when I see one on the road!

The 350cdi engine has plenty of torque, no surprise it felt quick up to 3,500rpm.

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