The interior of the CLS is generally excellent. The build quality is not quite as rock solid as Audi's A7 Sportback
, with a few hard plastics dotted around if you look for them, but overall it’s still very good. The design is funky and contemporary, and the configurable mood lighting that runs around the cabin and even in the air vents is a nice touch, with virtually all colours of the rainbow available. So, if you fancy driving through the night while bathed in hot pink light, you’re in luck.
The seats are very comfortable and adjust in all manner of ways, and while the infotainment system will require some time spent to understand everything it can do – and it can do a lot – we’ve found it straightforward to operate using a dial and touchpad between the front seats.
The CLS is a large car, but the swooping roof line means limited rear headroom for taller adults, something that’s not such an issue in its more capacious competitors. However, legroom is decent, and there are plenty of places to keep stuff around the cabin, with two good-size cupholders, sizable door pockets and a storage space under the central arm rest. And while the boot uses a conventional saloon-style boot lid, which means the space is not as accessible as in the hatchbacks of its rivals, it is at least impressively large.
On its standard suspension, the CLS feels more or less as you’d expect a big Merc to feel. It’s only really big bumps and potholes that’ll cause the suspension any trouble, but on the rare occasion it does get caught out, you do feel quite a whack. The rest of the time, however, the ride is soft and cosseting, which means you stay comfy on most kinds of road as you waft along, and it’s particularly good at soaking up the effects of pitted, rippled surfaces.
Despite the softness, the body doesn’t lollop around too much in bends, either, but the CLS still feels like a big, heavy car when it’s changing direction. Even so, the steering has plenty of weight to give a feeling of solidity through the corners, and it all adds up to a very pleasant, comfortable and relaxing drive.
We’ve also had a shot in a CLS fitted with the optional air suspension, and it’s even better. The ride feels just as smooth but vertical movements are more tightly controlled, and the reduced body lean it gives you in corners makes the handling a bit tidier.
However, we’re not sure the air suspension is sufficiently superior to justify the vast amount extra you’ll have to pay for it. For most buyers, we reckon the standard suspension will be more than good enough. Whichever suspension setup you plump for, though, the CLS delivers a more polished dynamic experience than an equivalently specced Audi A7, and one that’s at least on a par with the BMW 6 Series GT.