Interior compromises are few enough on the Mercedes-Benz CLS that it will be a rare occasion when the coupé element restricts usability as long as no more than four want to travel – there’s space in the back for only two. Rear passenger space is generous, though, with sculpted seats that are comfortable and snug while also offering plenty of leg, head and elbow room, even for two six-footers. Getting in and out will require some dexterity from rear passengers, though, due to the low, sloping roof.

In the front, there is a sense of subdued quality that has become the norm in modern Mercedes. Many elements are recognisable from the E-Class, including the main switchgear and control system, but the dash is unique to the CLS and makes for a suitably high-end appearance and atmosphere.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The CLS is still one of the most ergonomically sound cars to spend time in

On the equipment front, there is only two - AMG Line which is available on a majority of the range, while the CLS 63 S AMG gets its own trim level. The AMG Line trim endows the CLS with 19in alloy wheels, a sporty bodykit, a sport-tuned suspension, LED headlights and perforated front brake discs on the outside as standard, while inside there is heated front sports seats, alloy pedals, leather upholstery, DAB radio, EasyPack quick fold rear seats and Mercedes' Comand infotainment system.

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Choose the only petrol in the range - the CLS 400 and you will get additional equipment thrown into the package, including an electric sunroof, reversing camera and keyless entry and go on the exterior, while electrically adjustable front seats and a Harman & Kardon stereo system installed inside. Decide you want more power then upgrade to the beasty 577bhp AMG-tuned CLS and not only do you get the charming 5.5-litre V8 under the bonnet, there is also a beefy bodykit inclusive of new front grille, spoiler and sports exhaust. Inside there is climate control, numerous AMG details and a racetimer.

As ever, the Mercedes ‘Comand’ system requires some familiarity and lacks the intuitive nature of, say, a decent touchscreen. But thanks to the well laid out switchgear elsewhere, it’s still one of the most ergonomically sound cars to spend time in.

The boot is where the biggest compromise is made in terms of practicality, with a respectable capacity of 520 litres but a long, narrow space that is awkward to use.

There is another element that makes the CLS one of the best executive cars on sale at the moment, and that is refinement. At idle we recorded a measurement for the CLS 350 of just 37dB. To put that in perspective, a Rolls-Royce Ghost produces 44dB, and the CLS betters the Rolls just slightly at 50mph and 70mph, too.

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