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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. 


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.

Turbodiesel model introduced.

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.

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.

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
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
Last updated: 19th Jun 2017
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Mercedes-Benz CLS
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  • MERCEDES-BENZ CLS 3.0 CLS350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport Shooting Brake 7G-Tronic Plus 5dr

    £17,695 £17,695

    Type: Used Year: 2013 Make: MERCEDES-BENZ Model: CLS Trim: 3.0 CLS350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport Shooting Brake 7G-Tronic Plus 5dr Body: Station Wagon Trans: Manual Mileage: 53680 Engine Size: 2987 Ext Color: Black

    • Mileage: 53680 mi
    • Engine size: 2987
    For sale
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    V12 Sports and Classics
    01455501742 View contact number
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS

    £17,695 £17,695

    Variant name:CLS350 CDI BLUEEFFICIENCY AMG SPORT ,Derivative:3.0 CLS350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport Shooting Brake 7G-Tronic Plus 5dr ,Variant: CLS350 CDI BLUEEFFICIENCY AMG SPORT Metallic Black, AA INSPECTED PLUS 3 MONTHS AA WARRANTY, 3 owners, Last serviced on 08/08/2017 at 48,156 miles, 5 seats, Service History, 12 Months Road Tax Is £190, The Specification Includes: 19'' Alloy Wheels, L.E.D Matrix Headlights, L.E.D Daytime Running Lights, Audio/Visual Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Stop / Start Technology, Full Cream Leather Interior, Front Power Seats, 3 Stage Memory Setting Front Seats, 3 Stage Heated Front Seats, Digital Dual Zone Climate Control, Cruise Control, Digital Display, Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation System, Cd / Dab Stereo System, Harman Kardon Premium Sound System, Bluetooth, Voice Control, Electric Powerfold Door Mirrors, Electric Tailgate, Automatic Gearbox with Paddle Shift, And Much More, Value Financing Options Available, Fixed Prices, Vehicle Price When New: £55795, According to Autotrader, 91% Of Our Cars Are Below Market Value Or Offer Excellent Value For Money, V12 Sports And Classics For The UK's Lowest Prices., £17,695 p/x welcome

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 53680 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    £17,695 £17,695
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

    £16,500 £16,500

    Service history OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK - A SELECTION OF UP TO 200 CARS AND VANS AVAILABLE. Click on dealer 'VISIT WEBSITE' link for many more large photographs of this car. We are a West Sussex Trading Standards Approved 'Buy with Confidence Dealership'.

    • Mileage: 51000 mi
    • Engine size: 2143
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