It's Friday ladies and gentlemen, and what better way to make the final eight hours of your workweek fly by than with another heaping portion of Mercedes reviews? I couldn't agree more, so here, for your reading enjoyment, is yet another installment of our now famous Review Roundup segment. In this episode, the 2010 Mercedes GLK350, the Mercedes CLS550 and the Mercedes E-Class range are all tested, so if you're in the market for any, read on to see what reviewers thought of each.
As always, you can find excerpts from each review as well as links
back to the full articles immediately below.
Mercedes-Benz GLK350 (via Car and Driver)
Reviewer's rating: Unspecified
"The GLK shares much of its running gear with the C-class sedan, which means it has a strut-type front suspension with lower control arms and a multilink arrangement out back. Uniquely, the GLK has a new type of shock, co-developed with Sachs, which uses a bypass piston to absorb large amplitude motions. The torque split in the all-wheel-drive system is fixed at 55/45 percent front to rear, although the ABS can individually brake any wheel that’s spinning to aid traction. Towing capacity is rated at 3500 pounds.
The GLK certainly looks the part, with butch exterior styling that’s enhanced by standard-issue 19-inch wheels and tires. Twenty-inch rims are part of an appearance package that also includes aluminum roof rails. Inside, the blocky design looks very Eighties—and a lot like a G-class but with much higher-quality materials.
The baby Benz truck has plenty of leg- and headroom, plus 23 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up and 55 cubic feet with them folded. Standard equipment is fairly lavish, with dual-zone climate control, eight-way power front seats, an eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, a vast panoramic sunroof, and a multifunction, leather-wrapped steering wheel. There are plenty of options, too, including a hard-drive-based nav system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, leather seating, a power liftgate, and heated front seats.
Although Mercedes was proud to demonstrate the GLK’s off-road prowess, most owners likely won’t go mud plugging in them. The vehicle’s on-road demeanor is actually more significant. It drives like, well, a taller and heavier C-class. It’s quite fast for a 4050-pound cute ute, with Mercedes claiming a 0-to-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph.
Body control is pretty good, and the GLK can be hustled in a spirited fashion through the twisties, even if both the steering and brakes are a tad light. The ride is generally well controlled, but we experienced noticeable head toss over some patches of bumpy pavement."
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Mercedes-Benz CLS550 (via auto123.com)
"The Mercedes-Benz CLS is a bit of everything. The first thing that strikes you, obviously, is the unique silhouette, the finesse of which has been unmatched for many years. Then, after a while, you realize that the CLS is essentially the RuPaul of the auto industry; no one knows for sure if it's a sedan or a coupe. And when you finally turn the key and depress the throttle, the lovely purr of the 5.5-liter V8 turns into an emphatic roar.
World-class design is undoubtedly the top selling argument of the Mercedes-Benz CLS because, let's face it, this car is basically a dressed-up E-Class. Of course, I should probably avoid using the word "car" and instead refer to it as a "wheeled sculpture". The minor revisions to the exterior design for 2009 all work to emphasize the aesthetic excellence of the CLS. Truth is, most people would never know the grille, rear bumper, taillights and trapezoidal exhaust tips are new unless they read the automaker's literature.
Looking at the CLS550, there's no doubt that this is a high-performance automobile. Still, I didn't expect that much performance. Like a susceptible diva, this German star explodes every time you provoke it. And said explosions are overwhelming thanks to a 382-horsepower V8 engine that also produces 391 pounds-feet of torque. Reaching the speed limit of 100 km/h takes less than six seconds; accelerations are intense and convincing, while passing maneuvers can be executed with ease and total confidence. By the way, the exceptionally potent and internationally acclaimed 5.5L mill is available with most silver star products.
The transmission has a lot to do with the engine's performance. The seven gears of the 7G-TRONIC autobox are perfectly calibrated, ensuring seamless shifts and a smooth overall operation. Accelerations are even more progressive as a result. Having said that, this sophisticated unit takes some fun out of the driving experience. What I'm saying is that the CLS550 feels somewhat artificial with this transmission. Besides, the brakes seem to lack the necessary endurance for aggressive driving.
The steering is ultra-precise, however, which makes time behind the wheel more enjoyable. Handling is surprising; the beauty can morph into a beast whenever the road starts to wind. Obviously, the wider the corner is, the more comfortable the CLS feels. Remember, this saloon weighs a little over two tons. It proves firm through twists and turns yet the overall balance of ride and handling is superb. The only real problem is the lack of rearward visibility -- that's the price you have to pay with this sensational four-door coupe."
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class (via Channel 4)
"Many of the changes Mercedes has made to the E-Class have been designed to improve the driving experience - and the company does seem to have upped its game to meet the challenges from its rivals. The new E-Class has a range of eight engines - three diesel and five petrol - many of which are new.
The diesel engines comprise the 220, 280 and 320 CDI power plants, although the last two are essentially the same 3-litre V6 unit with different set-ups and are largely unchanged. The 220 CDI has received a power boost of 20bhp to 170bhp, with peak torque increased by 45lb-ft to 295lb-ft at 2,000rpm. These changes have knocked a second off the 0-62mph time (8.4secs for the saloon and 9.1secs for the estate) and increased top speed (141 and 135mph), while still making a slight improvement to the fuel economy (44.8 and 39.8mpg).
All the diesels are impressive, offering a good balance of power, economy and excellent refinement: so it's unsurprising that Mercedes reckons diesels will account for 75-80% of the market in the UK.
At the bottom of the range of petrol engines, the E 200 Kompressor four-cylinder unit has a modified engine management system, a new supercharger and new pistons, which have added 21bhp to the power output, lopped half a second off the 0-62mph time (9.1 secs for the saloon and 9.5 for the estate) and increased top speed (147 and 140mph).
While the 280 and 350 petrol units are unchanged, at the top of the range, the E 500 engine is a newly developed 5.5-litre V8 that also features in the S-Class. Mercedes claims that this 388bhp, 390lb-ft unit is one of the most powerful in its class, reaching 62mph from a standing start in 5.3secs, while still turning in fuel consumption of 24.6mpg for the saloon and 23.9mpg for the estate.
Then there's the E 63 AMG, a new naturally aspirated V8 engine from Mercedes's tuning arm that delivers 514bhp and peak torque of 464lb-ft, resulting in 0-62mph in 4.5secs (4.6 for the estate). The performance is highly impressive, the throaty roar of the engine so pleasing to the ear that you find yourself using the throttle for too long before catching sight of the speedo, requiring you to rein it in using the internally ventilated disc brakes.
This is an extremely comfortable car, thanks to its exceptional ride, space and superb seating: however, the ride quality is slightly let down by the occasionally excessive firmness of the steel-sprung versions around town. Models with Airmatic DC suspension - an option on all but the E 500 and E 63 AMG - have three settings, serving a pillowy urban ride on their softest setting, a good, supple compromise in the middle position and a sportingly firm set-up for hard, high-speed driving."
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