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Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 & 63 AMG: Buying guide and review (2004-2010)

Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 & 63 AMG: Buying guide and review (2004-2010) Classic and Performance Car
Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG
As the first in a line of modern four-door coupes, the original CLS helped to inject some excitement into the straight-laced Mercedes-Benz range of the early 2000s. Based on the similarly-aged E-class platform, the first-generation CLS model was an altogether sportier proposition. A range of powerful V6 and V8 engines provided strong performance – but it was the mad AMG models that really got petrol heads excited.
 
Big German luxury car values tend to drop fast, and with the first generation CLS models having ended production seven years ago, there are some potentially very lucrative deals out there. Read on to see whether a used CLS AMG is still a desirable performance machine, or an outclassed old bruiser hell bent on drain your bank account.
 

Which Mercedes CLS AMG to buy?

 
The CLS arrived in 2004, and Mercedes wasted no time in introducing the first CLS 55 AMG at launch. The 5.4-litre Supercharged V8 may have been an old-school design, but it was a very effective hammer. With 476 bhp and 516lb ft torque at its disposal, it was a hooligan in a gentleman’s suit and 62mph arrived in a scant 4.7-seconds.
 
2006 saw the introduction of the even more unhinged CLS 63 AMG. The M156 6.2-litre V8 engine was down on torque slightly, but an additional 45bhp and the immediacy of its responses thanks to natural aspiration made it a real monster. The 0-62mph time was down by 0.1 of a second and the 6.2-litre V8 extended its advantage as the speeds rose into triple figures.
 
Standard specification on the top line AMG models was comprehensive. Electric seats and high quality audio system are just the beginning, with many owners specifying their cars up with keyless go, bi-xenon headlamps and radar-guided cruise control. Bear in mind that despite its size, the CLS is strictly a four seater, and rear headroom is somewhat compromised by the swoopy design. 
 
Rarely do you find so many positive comments from owners, the quality issues that afflicted so many Mercedes-Benz products of the early 2000s seem not to have been so much of a problem on CLS models. Post-2006 models received some additional safety features while a mild facelift freshened up the looks in 2008 and added two more forward ratios to the automatic gearbox. 
 

Performance and specs

 
Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 AMG
 
Engine  5439cc 24 valve SOHC V8
Power 469bhp @ 6100rpm
Torque 516lb ft @ 2650rpm
Transmission Five-speed automatic
0-62mph 4.7sec 
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Insurance group   50
Fuel consumption  20.8 mpg
Price when new  £68,000
 

Dimensions and weight


Wheelbase              2854mm
Length 4915mm
Width 1873mm
Height 1389mm
Weight 1920kg
 

Common problems

 
• Electrical issues have been noted by some owners; most come down to faulty switches, so it is worth checking that everything works beforehand.
 
• Air suspension can suffer from split bellows, and repairs can be pricey.
 
• Both the M113 5.4-litre Supercharged V8 and the latter M156 6.2-litre unit are strong engines and provided they are serviced regularly should be mostly trouble free. The 6.2-litre has been known to suffer from head bolt failures and the supercharged motors can suffer from oil starvation (identified by noisy lifters) if they have been neglected but issues occur mostly on modified examples.
 
• The extremities of the car are tough to judge when parking, so optional parking sensors are extremely useful. Almost all AMG models came with them.
 
• The suspension and tyres take a pounding thanks to the power and weight. Bald rear tyres and creaking noises over bumps may indicate abuse, and possible big bills in the future.
 
• Gearboxes are tough, and should shift smoothly through the ratios. Jerking or hesitation during pull off are very bad. 
 

Recalls

 
The CLS may have been based on the less than reliable E-Class platform but, it did not suffer from many of the same issues. Nevertheless, a number of preventative recalls were issued and you should verify that your potential purchase has had the remedial work carried out: 

• Brake Control units could suffer damage, which may require more pedal pressure while driving than expected. All cars affected up to 31/12/2005

• Crankshaft sensor could lose signal resulting in non-starting and/or reduced power. Cars affected: 1/1/2006 to 31/12/2007

• Incorrect passenger airbag functioning cars built between 21/10/2010 and 30/05/2011 affected

• Power-steering signal issues could affect cars built between 01/11/2010 and 30/04/2011
 

Model history

 
2004: Mercedes-Benz CLS launched, featuring a range of V6 and V8 petrol powered engines – all models automatic only. CLS 55 AMG is powered by supercharged 469bhp 5.4-litre V8.

2005:
Turbodiesel model introduced.

2006:
CLS 63 AMG replaces CLS55 AMG. New naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 replaces 5.4-litre supercharged version. Power up to 514bhp but torque output is slightly lower. Pre-Safe and Neck-Pro safety systems introduced.

2008:
Facelift introduced across the range. Changes include redesigned bumpers and updated interior trim, as well as seven-speed ‘7G-Tronic’ automatic transmission replacing the five-speed unit.

2010:
First generation CLS production ends.
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.mercedes-benz-club.co.uk – Mercedes-Benz UK Car Club
• www.mercedesclub.org.uk – Owners club
• www.mbworld.org – Mercedes-Benz Forums
 

Summary and prices

 
While there are a fair number of standard CLS models for sale at any one time, the AMG variants are far more scarce. It’s best not to get too fixated on colour and spec, and focus on finding the healthiest example available within your budget.
 
A 2004 model year CLS 55 AMG with around 90,000 miles on the clock starts at around £10,000, with the last 2006 versions rising to around £13,500. The 6.2-litre V8s also start here, rising to about £20,000 for a 2010 model in perfect condition.
 
There’s no doubting that the CLS AMG models offer a lot of car for the money, but you really must factor in the running costs associated with a big, powerful V8. If you do, there’s little likelihood of being disappointed.  
 
Words: John Tallodi
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Last updated: 19th Jun 2017
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    • Mileage: 53680 mi
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