Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS 550Mercedes' four-door coupe parks itself perfectly.
-This is Mercedes' 2nd generation of their 4-door Coupe. It remains a statement car that is also somewhat practical. Let's drive the 2012 CLS550 and check the tech. -There you go with it. -Yeah. -[unk] -[unk] Yeah. [unk] Yeah. -[unk] -[unk] Yeah. -Let's put the CLS550 in its place within the Mercedes model range. It's a 4-door Coupe of big-ish executive kind of presence. It's very E-class in its presentation in person. It's nowhere near S-class in size or pomposity. Now, don't confuse this E-class based CLS with the S-class based CL which is a true Coupe. It's got 2 doors. If you can't count doors very well, then just count the dollars; 40,000 of them separate the 2 models. -[unk] Yeah. -[unk] -[unk] Yeah. -Now a CLS is kind of a high-tone thing so a lot of tech comes in at base. For example, this navigation system is standard on this car; I would hope so at this price level. However, it's not that big a screen in Mercedes fashion. It's not touch screen obviously; they use their commands controller, which is down here with a back, a clear and then a multi-function knob to do things. If you want to enter an address, it's pretty straight forward; although, they've got this multi-ribbon thing that I've never gotten totally in love with, top ribbon, middle ribbon, bottom ribbon. So let's try the voice controls. Enter destination. -Pre-selected state is California. Do you want to enter town first or street first? -Town. -Please say a California town name. -Now, 2 things I want you to notice from that short little sample: 1, You don't get these annoying little beeps you have wait for; secondly, notice that I didn't have to say exactly what the command was on the screen. Where the system falls down though is dealing with voice and the phone system on certain things like when you're trying to call up someone on the phonebook. Call name. -Please say the name. -Mitchell Chang. -Think Jim accepted. Mobile dialing. -Who the hell's Think Jim? Oh it's Jim Think. You know, Mitch Chang, Jim Think. So that didn't even come close. Here's your other option. Read out phonebook. -Please say the name from which reading out should begin. -Mitchell Chang. -Olmstead, Rich-- -Who? -Olmstead, Tina. -You see what it's doing there? It's reading out the directories from the name that I gave it. 2 problems: 1, it got the name completely wrong; 2, I can't tell what it's reading me, first-last, last-first, and if there's only one or the other. I don't know where it is in the sequence. AM/FM, HD radio, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming with good metadata, a 6-disk slot with movie playback and 10 gigabytes of hard drive space, all are standard in the entertainment rig and its 1 choice only; iPod connection, however, is optional. All of it blares out of a 1-choice harman/kardon system with 14 speakers at over 600 watts. Now in the dash, you can see a whole lot of things that are part of the optional driving technology on this car. Let's take a look. Here's my distance readout for my PRE-SAFE braking. It's showing me where the car is spotting vehicles in front of me. Blind Spot Assist, on or off, it uses indicators in the mirrors that as you see are way far out on the glass. When we get on the road, I'll tell you what I think of those. And here's your Lane Keep Assistance; turn that on or off. It's a stick shaker in case you're drifting across a lane and don't have the corresponding signal on. Now, I'm a big fan of things that are built in to a well-designed in-dash interface, but some things shouldn't be there like seat adjustments and Mercedes made you do that for the longest time. Now they're down here in a nice sensible set of switches alongside the seat bolster. -[unk] [unk] -Now up here in the engine room, you got a big part of the CLS story. A 550, as it says on the butt of this thing, tells you it's 5-1/2 liters, right? But no, Mercedes gave up on that simple nomenclature years ago; now, it doesn't mean anything. This is a 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8. You can tell by the plumbing up here right away. We've got 2 turbos. You can spot those down here and one over there. That gives this car 402 horsepower and again because it's blown it gets 443 foot-pounds of torque gets this 4200-pound beast up to 60 in just a tick over 5 seconds and delivers 16/24 mpg, which is not only pretty good for a big fast car but quite a bit better than the last edition of this big fast car. This car is powerful. It's not responsive. Tons of horsepower, lots of torque, but the throttle on this car is basically a light switch, on or off. You cannot make any decent maneuvers in traffic without this; you're going back and forth all time because the power comes on like that and then it goes away like that. It's a very hard car to drive smoothly which should not be the case for $70,000. On top of that, you've got heavily-assisted stirring. It's finger-light and highly-assisted brakes. The 3 different drive modes here on the console if you go to sport mode, that puts you in a really sporty mode. It's almost impossible then not to snap your neck back and forth as the power comes on and goes away. And the M mode of course drops you right to manual which I thought was good. I like using the manual shift on this automatic because this guy hunts 7th gear like a hound dog. But unfortunately, it's constantly driving to get into 7th gear which on this car in many situations is like 1000 rpm. Let's see. The lane departure technology is pretty good. As you approach the center line, you get the stick shake on the wheel like you're supposed to, and it keeps doing it halfway into the next lane so hopefully that'll get our attention at some point; if not, you may have died behind the wheel, who knows. As for the blind spot tech, it works great. You know, it's well-calibrated but I find the indicators are too far out in the mirror. If they were here in the post like a lot of other cars who shall go unnamed, they get my attention a lot more rapidly. In some, it accomplishes what a big dollar Mercedes is supposed to do, a big quiet huge power ride that has a presence, but this is not the kind of car you get a grin from driving; you get a grin from being seen in it. Now when you're done driving the car with so little road feel, you may as well have it park itself. The automatic parking is excellent. You approach a spot with your signal on, put the car in reverse when the blue parking icon points at the spot, work the pedals gradually while the car does the backing in and stirring, then pop it in drive and let the car nibble that last bit to straighten itself out tidy. Okay, let's price this 2012 CLS550 at 72 to base. Lots of tech is in there. You're gonna get the navigation, harman/kardon audio, most of the interesting digital inputs but you gotta add a few things. There's a premium 1 package for $4400 and that guy brings you iPod and AUX, rear-view camera which ought to be stuck, adaptive all-LED front lights, -- Hella's gotta bunch of other nice things-- a chunky package but lots in there. For $2900, you can get the Driver Assistance; that's the Adaptive Cruise, the automatic braking, the Blind spot stuff and the Lane Departure Warnings. And the last thing you wanna think about is the parking technology, front and rear sensors, and the Parking Assist logic; that's a little under $1000 but if you need, you know who you are.