Mercedes CLS500 - sculpture, masterpiece, statuesque,gorgeous,work of art

http://www.king5.com/sharedcontent/northwest/drivingnw/stories/NW_082005DNWmercedesEL.8bc519c1.html
The Mercedes CLS500 - sculpture that scoots
09:42 AM PDT on Friday, August 19, 2005
By TOM VOELK / Special contributor to NWCN.com
Some people think cars are simply devices to get you from point A to point B. Pity. Life's too short to drive dull cars. They're more than transportation, they're art. Public art, really. Like any creation, some are easier on the eyes than others.
The CLS has head-turning looks.
This week's subject, the Mercedes CLS500, may go down as a masterpiece. Those are strong words but then this is strong design. This car is sculpture that scoots. Clean, elegant and seductive, there isn't a wasted line on it. Starting at 66 grand, this statuesque beauty is not a bad deal considering Michelangelo's Venus is currently off the market.
I'll admit, sometimes in my reviews I use the phrase "styling is subjective." While that can be true, normally it's my code for "the designer should really be creating blenders, not cars." People may disagree on whether Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Can painting is a really art, but everyone who sees the CLS thinks it's drop-dead gorgeous.
In parking lots, people stop me to gush about it. Co-workers offer to pay for lunch to get a ride. Mornings find neighbors with noses pressed against the windows. This is a car that you look back on when you walk away from it.
Fortunately, beauty isn't just skin deep here. The 5.0-liter 24-valve V-8 engine that pumps out 302 horsepower has a great voice. With gobs of torque (339 lb-ft of it), it's a sprinter as well. 0-60 comes up in just under 6 seconds according to Mercedes-Benz. I don't doubt that. Drinking premium gas, I averaged 17 miles to the gallon with driving skewed toward highway miles.
Talk about your moving sculpture. For a larger car, it can dance pretty well on twisty country roads if you firm up the adjustable shocks. I like "Sport 2" personally though some might find it a bit stiff. Height is adjustable as well. Active Body Control (or ABC for those who love three letter monikers) makes sure the CLS looks even better by eliminating body roll, dive and squat. The 7-speed transmission is velvety smooth and sports manual shifting buttons on the back of the steering wheel.
NWCN
Patrons of the arts sit deep behind the wheel in the CLS. There's enough wood on the dash to make a small end table. Warm and cool air flows through the perforated leather seats. The side bolsters can be adjusted to hug upper torsos, keeping the pilot secure when cornering aggressively.
Simple things like height adjustable cup holders and a clever storage door on the center console that opens both ways are fun to play with. My kids love the remote sunshade that rises to diffuse the rear window.
The arts pertain to music too. The Harmon/Kardon sound system is terrific and an optional cable connects to an Apple iPod's dock port. Stowed away in the glove box, you can access it using buttons on the steering wheel. The display appears between the tach and speedometer. Very cool.
Keyless Go allows you to keep the "key" which is a transponder in your pocket or purse. The CLS will unlock as you approach and a push button starts the car. Also available (yes, optional) is Distronic cruise control that senses traffic ahead and adjusts speed accordingly.
The center console runs from the dash to the back seat meaning this vehicle seats four, max. At 5'9" I have just enough headroom. Legroom? It's fine, but hardly luxurious. Mercedes calls this a coupe even though it has four doors and the rear seating feels more like a two door.
There's plenty of safety to keep all four occupants at ease. Airbags all around including full curtain devices are part of it. ESP stability control is there to help you on the road, avoiding the unpleasantness of the bags going off in the first place.
Gripes are the usual for a Mercedes. The cruise control stalk is easy to mistake for the turn signal. The Command interface that controls things like navigation, sound system Bluetooth phone system and a whole host of other functions has a bit of a learning curve (though what luxury auto doesn't these days). To be fair it's not as bad as some.
With its clipped tail styling and intruding hinge arms, the CLS500 sacrifices cargo room in the trunk. It scores a 5 in the patented Toilet Paper Test. OK, so it's not patented. I'll distract you on that point by stating a sixth package of TP just won't fit. The rear seats don't fold to expand the trunk either. Most CLS owners probably have other vehicles better suited to hauling large quantities of bath tissue so it's not much of an issue here.
Owning a CLS500 is probably a little like having a supermodel or heartthrob as a spouse-They both look so terrific you'd forgive then for anything they might do. Fortunately you can rest assured the Mercedes won't be unfaithful. Hopefully Billy Joel and Jennifer Aniston are reading this.
Opening the garage door every morning to find this car would be like waking up to admire Van Gogh's Starry Night hanging on your bedroom wall. Appearing as lithe as a dolphin and menacing as a crouching tiger, the CLS500 seems to appeal to most everyone. Mercedes may call this four door a coupe, but I'd call it a work of art.
.
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I did like it when I first saw it (in Germany) but am still wondering where it fits into the range. Reduced rear-passenger and boot space, high price... but it does look good.
Haven't seen many in London, a major Merc market.
DAS
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Hi Dori,
Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

Although many (most?) people deny it, the design of a car is their reason #1 for deciding for a certain model (in their price range).
The advantage of the CLS - besides its really strong appearance (but with the front IMHO they failed, e.g. ugly headlights) - is that it has four doors which makes it easy to put some shopping on the rear bench and also allows to seat little childs easily (for hauling them to school or kindergarten etc.)

Surprising to me.
But on the other hand the car is a niche car and it is not that cheap...
Juergen
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Juergen . wrote:

I completely agree. The CLS has a beautiful appearance but those headlights are ugly!
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I beg to differ. In my eyes this car looks like a racing tank.
Frank
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You differ about the headlights or the overall appearance?
A racing tank?
Is that good or bad?
Racing sounds good and personally sometimes I wish I had a tank so maybe you mean that in a good way?
Racing tanks would sell in the USA.
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On 2005-08-21 12:07:48 -0700, "greek_philosophizer"

already did.
Marty
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Tasten:

both
IMHO bad. A luxury sedan should not look like a tank

feature a bold, brutal exterior design. This seems to meet the current US buyer's taste, so that I have to admit that it is not my taste.
Frank
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Frank Kemper wrote:

Besides the fact I agree with you I see here a future advantage for the carmakers as this surely _trendy_ look will be outdated relatively soon, forcing (some) owners to buy model successors.
Juergen
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Exactly. That's why I mentioned it.
Lots of S-class and other expensive cars around.
DAS
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greek_philosophizer wrote:

http://www.king5.com/sharedcontent/northwest/drivingnw/stories/NW_082005DNWmercedesEL.8bc519c1.html
BEFORE they call themselves 'designers'. Design-wise, it's the beginning of the end (or maybe the W210 was...)
On the positive side, doesn't look like some California BMW contract-cretin 'designed' it.
Jan
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