The Mercedes W218 is a four-door stylish coupe based on the W212 chassis and was in production between 2011 and 2018. The CLS-Class (W218) was the pioneer in this segment but it now competes with the likes of the BMW 6-series, and the Audi A7 Sportback.
This segment exists for those who want a premium executive mid-size luxury German sedan, but prefer such sedans to be more stylish and attention-grabbing. This means that the W218 is a W212 in an expensive tracksuit, but Is Mercedes W218 a good car?
The W218 is most definitely a good car for a variety of reasons. For starters, it comes with loads of powerful and sophisticated gas and diesel engines. It looks great both inside and out, especially the post-facelift model which still looks like it was born yesterday.
The W218 is also decently reliable, but there are some issues worth talking about. The value aspect is strong with this one, especially the pre-facelift W218. Practicality is also decent, but the car is held back slightly by its sloping roofline which does eat into rear headspace and all-around visibility.
Mercedes W218 – The powertrain
The Mercedes W218 lineup starts with the CLS350/CLS400 BlueEfficiency which offers a 3.5L V6 with 306hp. The CLS500 gets a 4.7L V8 with 410hp. The top-of-the-line gas W218 variant is the CLS 63 AMG which comes with a 5.5L BiTurbo V8 with 585hp. All of these are sophisticated but aren’t the best when it comes to fuel efficiency.
The diesel W218 palette starts with the CLS250d which gets a 2.5L 4-cylinder turbo engine with 204hp, the next in line is the CLS350 which is the strongest diesel W218 powertrain as it offers more than 300hp in its strongest form. These are not as powerful as the W218 gas engines but are way more efficient.
The W218 is a RWD car primarily, but some versions are available with 4MATIC AWD as an option. Also, earlier W218 models come with a 7-speed automatic box while newer post-facelift models come with the newer and more advanced 9-speed automatic gearbox.
Mercedes W218 – Design and chassis
The Mercedes W218 is a stylish coupe version of the W212 which means that it offers enough space with the added style that comes with a coupe. Therefore, the W218 comes with frameless windows and a sloping roofline which makes the car look extremely sleek. The post-facelift W218 is even better-looking and arguably beats the current CLS-Class.
As far as the driving experience is concerned, the W218 drives like it looks. This means that it is a luxury limousine with the added flare of a coupe sports car. The most dynamic W218 model is undoubtedly the CLS 63 AMG. Also, the interior of the W218 is the same as in the W212, but a CLS comes with better equipment straight from the factory.
Mercedes W218 – Reliability and common issues
The W218 Mercedes CLS is more or less the same as the W212 E-Class when it comes to reliability. This means that it should last a long time, especially if you maintain it well enough. The most common W218 issues are associated with the air suspension, the engine, the transmission, the electronics, and various leaks from the cooling system or oil leaks.
The key to enjoyable W218 ownership is to always maintain it whenever the recommendations require you to. If you do that, the car should easily be able to last hundreds of thousands of miles. Either way, the W218 is a reliable car, but be sure to consider one only if all the maintenance and service records are present.
Mercedes W218 – Value and practicality
The W218 pre-facelift model is now a bargain considering what it offers. A stylish, timeless 4-dour coupe with strong and reliable engines is something you should not expect to cost as much as a barebone brand-new Japanese economy car. However, maintenance is where the costs are, so if you consider buying one, you need to be aware that these are not cheap to run.
Practicality-wise, the W218 is good and bad at the same time. The good things are that it can comfortably seat up to four people and that it comes with a large trunk. The bad thing is that five people can not sit in the W218 and the fact that the sloping roofline eats into rear headspace.
Should I buy the Mercedes W218?
The Mercedes W218 is a great bargain these days, but it does cost quite a bit of money to tun. The CLS350 is the best one to buy in the gasoline department while the CLS350d is the best one to get in the diesel catalog. Always look for examples with all the service history records present as these are more important than the mileage itself.
As such, you should consider buying the W218, but you should also check out the Audi A7 and the BMW 6-Series from this era. These three are extremely well matched which means that they can trade punches for days.
How long can a Mercedes W218 last?
The Mercedes W218 is able to last a few hundred thousand miles without needing major overhauls. The only way to achieve this comfortably is to maintain the car whenever needed. Therefore, 200,000+ miles on the clock are a definite possibility.
It’s also worth mentioning that the post-facelift W218 is the better option overall, both because it is newer and because it does not suffer from as many issues as the pre-facelift W218. All in all, the W218 is built to last, but only if you make it so.
Is the Mercedes CLS better than the Audi A7?
The Audi A7 and the Mercedes CLS are fierce rivals as they more or less present the same experience with a different approach. The BMW 6-Series also used to be part of this group, but BMW decided to discontinue it for the BMW 8-Series which is both more expensive and more powerful than these two.
All in all, the A7 and the CLS are really closely matched. The A7 is a bit more expensive because it is a bit newer. The CLS is the more comfortable car and older people prefer it over the A7. The A7 is a bit more youthful, more dynamic, but it can’t match the CLS for comfort.