CLS  ( C218 )  2010
CLS ( C218 ) 2010
Despite this, performance is still relatively strong.
Despite this, performance is still relatively strong.

Like a supermodel on a catwalk, the Mercedes-Benz CLS no doubt features on many a wish list, but it's just too expensive and thirsty to feature in the reality show that is the life of most car buyers.

Until now the access point has been the CLS 350 petrol model, with a price tag of R811 900, but now there's a (slightly) more affordable and (significantly) more economical diesel model on offer.

This latest addition to the range, the CLS 250 CDI, is priced at R700 000 on the dot, and according to claimed combined-route figures, it consumes between 5.1 and 5.3 litres of diesel per 100km. This equates to just 134g/km of CO2.

Though its claimed economy numbers might be hard to achieve in the real world, it's still an indication of how much more frugal it is than the 350, for which Merc claims 9.8 to 10.0 l/100km.

The only apparent downside is that is has a 2.2-litre diesel engine, albeit with two turbochargers and outputs of 150kW and 500Nm.

But does it actually go?

After test driving the small-engined beauty on its Gauteng launch on Thursday, our Star Motoring correspondent Mike Winfield was rather impressed with its performance.

"The smaller turbo gets the car off the mark smartly without any of the dreaded turbo lag and its bigger sibling kicks in once you're up and running.

"The engine sounds a little gruff in the first of the CLS' seven gears but after that it smooths out to the point where you might easily think you're in a petrol V6 or even a V8.

It's not scared to overtake either.

"We needed to pass two huge trucks on a narrow country road at one point and I had my reservations that we had enough space to make the pass. But flattening the throttle saw the car rocketing past in a flash."

Drive, of course, is to the rear wheels via Merc's 7G Tronic automatic gearbox, which Mike describes as a pearler. "Shifts are seamless and when you need to kick down it seems to know instinctively what you need."

Mercedes-Benz claims a 7.5-second zero to 100km/h sprint (compared to 6.1 secs for the 350 petrol) and the diesel reputedly won't run out of steam before you've hit the 242km/h mark.

Of course, there is a lot more to this CLS than just beauty and economy. Inside you'll find advanced infotainment facilities like the Comand APS multimedia system with Linguatronic text-to-voice functionality.

There is also a glut of optional extras to choose from, including air suspension, active counter steer, blind spot and lane-keeping assistance systems and an AMG sports package among many other novelties that will quickly inflate the R700 000 base price.

At least it comes standard with a six-year/120 000km maintenance plan and two-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

This new diesel model is also the pick of the range, according to Mike:

"If you want a CLS, you'd be daft to buy anything other than a 250 CDI, unless you've got way too much money or an ego that demands to be seen profiling in the AMG 63 version."