Emma Jayne Williams

Mercedes CLS400 4-door coupe offers new entry model for 2015

Mercedes-Benz introduced a new entry-level CLS400 for 2015, and the rest of the four-door, midsize luxury “four-door coupe” CLS-Class received a styling refresh inside and out, along with a few new safety features, bringing it in line with other Mercedes models.

The introduction of the new V-6-powered base model at $65,990 makes admittance to the Mercedes club easier. Prices for the other two models range from $73,200 to $106,550, with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive option adding $2,500 to the CLS400 and the CLS550. The CLS63 AMG comes with standard 4Matic.

CLS for 2015 has a restyled grille and headlights and a new rear bumper borrowed from the CLS63 AMG. Inside is an updated infotainment screen and new safety features such as autonomous braking for the standard radar-based collision-prevention system.

Mercedes offers the CLS in 12 elegant colors, including four special colors for an additional charge. Interiors are just as versatile, with 13 colors – six for an additional charge – and five wood trims to choose from. Standard wheels are 18-inch twin five-spoke alloy, with three others available for an additional charge.

My tester was a gorgeous designo Cardinal Red ($360) with Black Semi-Aniline Leather ($1,370) and Black Ash Wood Trim. My CLS400 was powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 biturbo engine, paired with a seven-speed automatic with shift paddles, producing 329 horsepower, with an ECO start/stop system to aid fuel efficiency.

The CLS Class for 2015 is EPA rated for 16 mpg in the city/20 on the highway to 20 city/30 highway for my base model. I managed 27.4 mpg driving mostly on the highway with Eco mode engaged.

The standard 18-inch wheels were replaced by optional 19-inch chiseled twin five-spoke wheels painted silver with a silver and blue Mercedes star and wreath emblem in the center, adding $500. Chrome trimmed the window frames, the top of the door handles, and a strip along the lower front bumper.

Designo offers handcrafted quality in an exclusive program of paintwork and upholstery, featuring six exotic paint colors, and two handcrafted semi-aniline leathers in pre-configured packages or mix-and-match. Additional designo options include a sport steering wheel, rich DINAMICA microsuede headliner and plush floor mats with hand-stitched leather borders.

Standard equipment included ambient lighting using LEDs and fiber optics to welcome occupants and give nighttime driving a more secure feel, not to mention adding a little personality with three color profiles to choose from – Polar, Solar and Neutra.

Heated front seats were standard, along with dual-zone automatic climate control, power tilt/slide sunroof, garage/gate opener, driver’s side and interior auto-dimming mirrors, CD/DVD audio/video player, Bluetooth connectivity, media interface and mbrace by Verizon Telematics.

Mbrace hardware connects your car, your computer and/or your smartphone and uses advanced cloud-based GPS technology, with 24-hour support, to make everyday life easier or help in an emergency with the industry’s most comprehensive range of features. There are three optional subscription packages.

Garmin MAP PILOT is standard, but was replaced in my tester by an option with COMAND with navigation, navigation updates for three years, MB Apps and WiFi. The $6,900 Premium Package combined two packages and included voice control; cooled front seats; satellite radio, traffic and weather; power rear window sunshade; adaptive high-beam assist, Multibeam LED headlights with active curve illumination; power-folding mirrors; electronic trunk closer; and Keyless Go.

Advanced voice control allows the operator to “teach” the system to recognize individual speaking styles, with no need to spell out commands.

COMAND uses GPS technology and an 80-gb hard drive to store maps and points of interest to provide detailed driving directions, and also displays locations of gas stations, ATMs and M-B dealerships along the route.

MB Apps connects the driver to services such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, and MBFS (financial services), Internet radio, destination/route downloading, news, traffic cameras, weather forecasts (local and national), hotel searches , gas station locations and prices, flight information, investment services, and theater locations with movies showing at each.

Standard equipment also included Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake technology, and an advanced air bag protection system. Attention Assist uses over 70 measured variables to create an individual driver profile; it detects when the driver is becoming tired or inattentive, and prompts him/her to take a rest.

Adaptive Brake technology warns following vehicles if the driver applies heavy braking at speeds greater than 30 mph by flashing the brake lights. Flashing ceases when pressure on the brake pedal is released slightly. At speeds exceeding 45 mph, if the system is activated and remains active until the vehicle comes to a complete stop, the hazard lights continue to flash, but can be manually switched off. After the vehicle resumes movement and reaches 5 mph, the hazard lights switch off.

Standard Collision Prevention Assist Plus gives the driver visual and audible warning when a safe distance to the vehicle ahead isn’t maintained, and actually applies partial braking if a collision is imminent.

New for 2015, the system is active for moving vehicles up to 65 mph and for stationary objects/stopped vehicles up to 40 mph, and can activate the Pre-Safe system if necessary. If emergency braking is applied, adaptive Brake Assist provides maximum brake force to help prevent or reduce the severity of a rear-end collision.

Pre-Safe with pedestrian recognition and Pre-Safe Plus are options that react in the event of impending accident, taking precautionary measures such as optimizing seat position, tensioning seat belts and closing windows to protect occupants.

If Pre Safe Plus detects an impending rear impact, the hazard lights flash quickly to alert traffic behind, measures are taken to protect occupants and brakes are applied firmly to prevent a domino effect.

The system has pedestrian detection, which for the first time recognizes pedestrians and issues visual and audible warnings to help prevent or lessen impact with pedestrians up to 30 mph.

BAS Plus with Cross Traffic Assist was another option on my tester, included in a Driver Assistance Package along with P-S and P-S PLUS for $2,800, which helps to prevent or mitigate accidents. Up to 45 mph B-P detects danger from crossing vehicles at intersections and issues visual and audible warnings. The system boosts braking, if the driver responds, and applies up to full brake force; then P-S Plus warns traffic behind with the rear hazard lights.

Distronic Plus with Steering Assist is also part of the package, and helps maintain a safe distance between vehicles at speeds up to 125 mph, again with visual and audible warnings and gentle braking, while keeping the vehicle in the center of the lane on straight or slightly curvy roads.

A Parking Assist Package for $1,290 included Parktronic with active parking assist and a surround-view camera system. The around view was especially helpful for backing and turning on a small concrete pad to avoid driving into the surrounding soft mud.

My CLS400 had several other options, including split/folding rear seats for $440; active multicontour driver seat, $660; air suspension, $1,610; Harmon/Kardon sound system with Dolby 5.1, no extra charge; rear side air bags, $420; heated rear seats, $625; and a special order charge of $250.

The multicontour seat had adjustable lumbar support, side bolsters, and shoulder supports, plus a massage feature – a pleasant addition on my long road trip. The side bolsters can be programmed to respond with increased support in cornering or a potential accident.

Harmon/Kardon, engineered for the CLS, delivered 610 watts through 14 well placed speakers using Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound technology, including Digital Dynamic Volume Control to maintain sound spectrum in a variety of driving conditions.

My tester was eye-catching, fun to drive and loaded with personality. Rear passengers were somewhat claustrophobic, however, with 35 inches of legroom. Front headroom was only 36.9-inches.

Rear passengers were rewarded with a full-length center console with a power outlet, ashtray and felt-lined storage cubby. The front passenger had a drop-down storage cubby under the front of the seat cushion.

With options and $925 freight, the total delivered price was $84,140.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.