Fancier wheels and standard satellite radio mark the only new features for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, following the addition of two powerful new engines in 2007. But with few competitors, the unique coupe-like four-door sedan doesn’t have to change quickly to stay ahead of the game. With the CLS-Class, Mercedes manages to marry the refined design and convenient quarters of a large sedan with the handling of a spry two-door roadster. Of course, some of the practicality gained by the car’s four-door design gets countered by an attractive but inconvenient fastback roofline.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class lineup includes two trims, both equipped with V-8 engines. A base CLS550 model gets its power from a 5.5-liter V-8 that produces 382 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, while the CLS63 AMG draws power from a 6.2-liter version making 507 horses and 465 lb-ft. Both engines pair with a seven-speed shiftable automatic transmission.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 5.5-liter V-8, 6.2-liter V-8
Transmissions: seven-speed shiftable automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz CLS550, Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
For 2008, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class gets a new seven-spoke design for its 18-inch wheels. Satellite radio, which previously came as an option, joins the list of standard features.
Based loosely on Mercedes’ E-Class, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class distinguishes itself with an elegant tapered roofline, sharp creases, and a sporty stance. The line’s base CLS550 trim comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, a remote-operated power sunroof, a semi-active air suspension, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rear defogger, and cargo tie-downs. The CLS63 AMG trim adds a larger V-8 engine, 19-inch wheels, and many interior features. Most of the CLS63 AMG’s amenities can be added to the CLS550 with a new AMG Sport Package introduced for 2008. An AMG Performance Package upgrades the AMG model with a number of sporty enhancements, including carbon-fiber trim, a track-tuned suspension, better brakes, and special 19-inch wheels.
Both trims offer a Premium II Package, which adds features such as keyless start, keyless entry, and bi-xenon headlights. Individual exterior options include parking sensors and, on the CLS550 only, run-flat tires. A special Designo Graphic Edition, introduced to the lineup in late 2008, comes with a Graphic Metallic paint job.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 features standard leather upholstery, luxurious leather and wood trim, 10-way power-adjustable bucket front seats, memory settings for three drivers, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, heated power mirrors, one-touch power windows, power locks, retained accessory power, a universal remote transmitter, cruise control, 12-volt power outlets, interior air filtration, four-zone climate control, an external temperature display, a trip computer, TeleAid telecommunications service, satellite radio, and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon with an in-dash CD player.
Opting for the CLS63 AMG gets you a sport steering wheel, heated front seats, and premium leather seating with Alcantara inserts, all upgrades that can be added to the CLS550 with the AMG Sport Package. The Premium I Package provides ventilated front seats, a navigation system, a power-operated trunk, Bluetooth, and on the CLS550, heated front seats. The Premium II Package adds everything in the Premium I pack, plus some exterior extras. Individual options include iPod integration, active cruise control, and on the CLS550, premium leather upholstery.
Though technically a sedan, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class sometimes gets called a “four-door coupe? due to its sloped body style. Tall occupants may have to duck to avoid the low roofline, especially in the back seat. However, the CLS-Class’ standard sedan length provides ample legroom. Short wraparound windows contribute to the sedan’s sleek look, but sometimes impair visibility. At 15.9 cubic feet, trunk space measures larger than the average coupe but remains typical for a sedan.
Performance & Handling
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class offers two engine choices. The base CLS550 comes with a 5.5-liter V-8 producing 382 horses and 391 lb-ft of torque, while the more muscular CLS63 AMG gets its guts from a 6.2-liter V-8 churning out 507 horsepower and 465 lb-ft. The 5.5-liter engine propels the CLS-Class to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, while the 6.2-liter can do it in a brisk 4.4 seconds. The only available gearbox remains a seven-speed automatic with manual shifting ability.
A semi-active suspension can be set to a stiffened Sport mode or a softer Comfort mode. While responsive steering and sticky tires make for a dynamic driving experience in both trims, sports car enthusiasts may prefer the performance enhancements unique to the AMG model.
2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class models come standard with front and rear head airbags, dual front and rear side-mounted airbags, a driver’s-side knee airbag, anti-lock brakes with emergency braking assist, stability control, traction control, head restraints with whiplash protection, and pre- and post-collision safety systems.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz CLS550: 14/21 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG: 12/18 mpg city/highway
- Sleek style
- Smooth V-8
- Impressive handling
You Won't Like
- Cramped rear seat
- Limited headroom
- Poor visibility
Unique four-door sport coupe balances coolness with convenience.
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