Mercedes CLS Coupe 218: The luxury Benz with retro flair

Introduced in January 2011, the Mercedes CLS (218) is the second generation of the CLS series. Based on the platform of the E-Class, it is available as a four-door coupé or as a Shooting Brake.

The predecessor

The first generation of the Mercedes CLS (W219) was launched in 2004 and had its run until 2011. By that time it was unclear weather the market would receive a four-door coupe with no technical advantages to the other models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Neither did the CLS offer more performance than the E-class it was based on, nor did it come with a bigger interior. It even offered less headroom and poorer visibility than the conventional Mercedes sedans. What distinguished the CLS, however, was the exterior design, designed in 2001 by Michael Fink. The elegantly curved body impressed the customers, and by 2010 more than 170,000 vehicles were sold. The brave step of Mercedes paid off, and the CLS established itself successfully as the first four-door coupe on the market. The success of the Mercedes CLS also inspired other manufacturers such as VW, BMW or Aston Martin, who followed up with similar concepts.


The CLS of the 218 series was initially available in 2011 with V6 petrol and diesel engines. Later followed by a 4-cylinder diesel, as well as two V8 gasoline engines. The most powerful engine on the market is the CLS 63 AMG with a 5.5-liter V8 with direct injection and twin turbocharging. The resulting power is 535 hp (386 kW), which can be increased to 557 hp (409 kW) with the optional AMG performance package.

The 4-cylinder diesel engine in the CLS 218 has an increased injection pressure of up to 2,050 bar with common-rail diesel technology. (Source: Manufacturer)


Depending on the model, three different transmissions with 7 or 9 gears are used in the Mercedes CLS. The AMG models with the 7-speed sports transmission have four driving programs and a RACE START function.

All transmissions are equipped with the ECO start-stop function, which can temporarily switch off the engine when the vehicle is at a standstill.

The 9G-Tronic transmission with integrated ECO start-stop function (Source: Manufacturer)


Inside, the CLS differs more strongly from the C, E, S-class trilogy. Unlike these, it has instead of the “Windscreen Cockpit” a classic three-piece speedometer. The design is independent and has a touch of retro. The analog clock between the air nozzles in the center console also contributes to this flair.

CLS Shooting Brake

While the CLS is considered a “four-door coupe”, the first “four-door combo coupé” was launched in October 2012 with the CLS Shooting Brake. The base model of the Shooting Brake brings a 75-liter larger and expandable to 1550 liters trunk.


In 2014, the CLS 218 got a facelift, which brought a few small changes. In the front the existing radiator grill was replaced with a diamond grill. Likewise, the air intakes were enlarged and LED headlights became part of the basic equipment. The interior was equipped with a larger LCD display above the center console. In addition, there were changes in some transmission variants.


The Mercedes CLS combines sportiness ideally with functionality and elegance. The V8 engines of the 218 series deliver what they promise. It may also be the last of its kind, as downsizing in the automotive industry will require smaller engines in the future. In contrast to the other luxury sedans in the Mercedes-Benz range, which all look pretty similar in terms of design, the CLS 218 has an independent character.

The successor: The Mercedes CLS C257 2018