On twisty roads, Sport mode tightens up the primary ride nicely while retaining a high level of secondary ride comfort over short, sharp bumps. The lower roll angles and better damping control make full use of the variable steering ratio of the EPS (Electric Power Steering) system unique to the CLS.

According to Dr. Rudiger Rutz, senior manager of the Driving Dynamics team,this can vary the steering ratio from 12:1 to 16:1, and gives maximum assistance at low speeds. "The electric motor gives you 30 percent more assistance, changing ratios up to 90 degrees of steering lock, and then constant and reduced assistance over that."

According to Dr. Rutz, where the C218 CLS was largely the same under the skin as the W211 E-Class, save for slightly more sporting suspension settings, the C219 version has a different front axle arrangement with a higher roll center that makes a discernible difference to the way the car moves down a twisty road.

The difference lies in the adoption of the overall front suspension strategy from the E63 AMG. This features a semi-MacPherson strut and two lower links, one of which has a different angle from the normal E-Class for improved geometric precision under load. The 4Matic four-wheel-drive system is available as an option on the V6 and V8 models from the start, with a different hub carrier and a front differential.

The unique suspension layout makes a huge difference in the way the CLS drives. Where the E-Class is competent but unexciting, the CLS is more direct and engaging. It is now as much fun to drive as its looks are enticing.

The new CLS looks and feels special, and like the original from 2004, this is the eye candy in the showroom. But with its unique chassis settings and wide range of standard and optional state-of-the-art technical features, this car also walks the walk, at least with its more powerful engines.

With its larger, more airy cabin making it even more practical, the more purposeful looking new CLS may well even win over the small group who hesitated buying the original car. I predict that it will be an even bigger success than its predecessor.

2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine
4.6-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, bi-turbo

Transmission
Seven-speed automatic

Suspension
Multilink, AIRMATIC damper system, anti-dive (f/r), anti-squat (r), anti-roll bars

Brakes
Internally ventilated rotors, ABS, Brake Assist, ESP

Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.): 194.5/74.1/55.7
Wheelbase: 113.1 in.
Dry Weight: 4,167 lb

MSRP: $TBD

Performance
Peak Power: 408 hp @ 5750 rpm
Peak Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.0 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph

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