The four-seat CLS has been given a makeover and the result has not only improved the car; it has also made it more appealing.

The CLS has always been a striking car but changes to the grille (it now features just two louvers), a lower rear bumper and new exhaust pipes plus tweaks to the lights and other tweaks have combined to freshen up the already unique looking car.

Inside, the dash has been given a makeover too. There’s a three-spoke steering wheel and white dials plus a fresh new instrument cluster. Under the bonnet you can now get a 280 entry-level engine with 231bhp but to be honest the 320 CDi I have on test is the best real world choice (or should I say “pre-recession choice”). If you add the ‘AMG’ kit of 19” five-spoke alloys and other bits and pieces you can have a car any Rapper would be proud of.

My 320 CDi had a 2987cc six-cylinder turbo charged diesel engine that pushes out 224bhp but more impressively 540nm of pulling power. On anything other than dry surfaces you can get the tail out quite easily. In fact this is definitely not the car to use when we get the occasional bit of snowfall! CLS 320 CDi will average 8.1 litres per 100 kilometers, which isn’t too bad in a luxury car. Annual road tax is €1,050 as VRT is 32%.

CLS prices start at €83,835 and rise to €163,925. My test car weighs in at €87,250. If money is no object (or, as in my case, no money is the object!) the V8 CLS 63AMG is the car to go for. It has outrageous performance and a thirst to match.

Behind the wheel of an everyday Merc you will happily comply with all regulations and be content sitting in your little piece of sanctuary from the maddening world. Certain Mercs with big exhausts and AMG badges will always help bring out the devil in you but the big CLS will do it too. The four-door coupe (I know it’s an oxymoron) with its rear wheel drive and beefy engines will entertain and put a smile on the faces of owners. Mercedes is taking a bit of a lead in terms of driver and occupant safety and there are many aids standard in the CLS should you do anything naughty (ABS, ESP, ASR, BAS). In the case of a crash a head restraint system called ‘Neck-Pro’ will help prevent whiplash injuries.

On the road the CLS is a serious cruiser. The driving position puts you closer to the windscreen than in most cars as the steering wheel is mounted close to the dashboard but it is still easy to find a perfect driving position. The standard fit ‘7 G-Tronic’ automatic gearbox is a delight and super smooth to use.

On 8 cylinder models you can get air suspension ‘Airmatic DC’ that adjusts to the driving style, it can be added as an option to six-cylinder versions also. If you want petrol power the 300 and 350 CLS are the sensible engines while the V8 500 and AMG 63 will definitely put you on your filling stations Christmas card list!

The CLS makes you feel a little bit of wild child among the conservative Mercedes Benz club; that’s a good thing.

Michael Sheridan