Charl Bosch
Online Motoring Reporter
4 minute read
7 Apr 2021
10:29 am

Mercedes-Benz unveils facelift CLS

Charl Bosch

Car that kickstarted the four-door coupe craze boasts small changes outside and a subtly updated interior.

Changes to the CLS require a sharp eye.


Introduced four years ago as the third generation of the car that started the four-door coupe movement, Mercedes-Benz has taken the covers off of the facelift CLS and its performance derivative, the AMG fettled CLS 53.

Sporting the now familiar silhouette that has been passed down to Benz’s smallest coupe-like model, the CLA, the CLS is once again based on the same platform as the recently updated E-Class, with no changes to its dimensions having taken place.

Externally though, the model that has amassed global sales of 450 000 units since its debut in 2004, receives the now obligatory 3D grille resplendent with the three-pointed star in the middle, a new colour called Starling Blue Metallic and a revised front bumper.


Mercedes-Benz CLS rear view. Picture: Supplied

As well as slightly revised headlights, the 19-inch alloy wheels feature two new designs; a five twin-spoke or a multi-spoke, while the 20-inch AMG light alloys on the AMG Line can now specified in high gloss black or Tremolite Grey.

Aside from its AMG specific bodykit, Panamericana grille and bespoke alloy wheels, the only exterior changes for the CLS 53 is the optional Night Package with mainly dark chrome detailing, the Carbon Package that lives up to its name by featuring carbon fibre trim and red brake calipers with black AMG lettering.

The biggest change has however taken place inside with the debut of a new Nappa leather multi-function steering wheel, finished with chrome edging and two-zone sensor pads that detects when the driver’s hands are on or off the wheel.


Changes to the CLS’s interior, while small, are more substantial than the exterior. Picture: Supplied

Included is the latest MBUX infotainment system with the dual 12.3-inch displays, Augmented Video Navigation and Interior Assist.

Rounding the interior off are two new seat upholstery colours: Sienna Brown/black and Neva Grey/Magma Grey, five two-tone colours in Nappa leather; Saddle Brown/black, Classic Red/black, Deep White/black, Tartufo Brown/black and Yacht Blue/black and two new trim inlays for the centre console; high gloss grey wood and open pore brown walnut.

Safety has also been sharpened-up with Active Brake Assist now a standard on all models, while options comprise of Active Park Assist with the Parktronic 360 degree camera system, Active Steering Assist and Active Distance Assist Distronic.


Mercedes-AMG CLS 53. Picture: Supplied

Reserved for the 53 is the AMG Performance steering wheel clad in Nappa leather and Dinamica micro-fibres or black Nappa leather, and the now customary Race mode for the Dynamic Select system, which boasts a drift setting.

Underneath the bonnet, the CLS continues unchanged with a choice of three turbodiesel engines and two turbo-petrols, excluding the 53, all paired to the 9G Tronic gearbox. Standard across the petrol line-up and on one of the oil-burners is the 48-volt mild-hybrid system that delivers and additional 16kW/250Nm over short spells.

Commencing the line-up of petrol models is the CLS 350, which derives motivation from a 2.0-litre unit outputting 220kW/400Nm. Like the rest of the non-AMG line-up sans the base diesel, top speed is limited to 250 km/h with the 0-100 km/h dash taking 6.1 seconds.


Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 rear view. Picture: Supplied

With the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system standard, the CLS 450 once again serves as the top-spec “normal” CLS with its electrified 3.0-litre straight-six pumping-out 270kW/500Nm. The benchmark sprint is dispatched with in a claimed 4.8 seconds.

On the diesel front, the CLS 220d joins the CLS 350 in being the only other model not to come with the 4Matic system. Powered by the OM 654 2.0-litre oil-burner, it punches out 143kW/400Nm which allows for a top speed of 237 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds.

Utilising the same engine but with mild-hybrid assistance, the CLS 300d makes 195kW/550Nm, enough to dispatch the 0-100 km/h marker in 6.4 seconds. Completing the line-up is the 400d which replaced the 350d last year. Powered by the OM 656 2.9-litre straight-six, it produces 250kW/700Nm, which results in 100 km/h from zero coming up in 5.2 seconds.


Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 interior. Picture: Supplied

As before, the AMG 53 tops the CLS range with 320kW/520Nm plus the mentioned 16kW/250Nm being developed by is mild-hybrid’s 3.0-litre straight-six.

With drive going to all four wheels via the performance optimised 4Matic+ system and the nine-speed MCT ‘box, the 53 will get from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 km/h or 270 km/h with the optional AMG Driver’s Package.

Sales are set to commence later this year with the South Africa line-up still to be confirmed.

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