Mercedes Benz M256

Mercedes-Benz has restored the inline-6 engine to its line-up, and its merits are commendably demonstrated in the CLS 450.

The road ahead straightened. Hardly a car in sight, I flexed my right foot ever so slightly. The engine built up its revs smoothly, albeit unhurriedly, but unmistakably punchy at the same as the speakers piped in augmented sound to bolster the experience.


The sound may be faked, but the satisfaction is real as I explore range of revs offered by Mercedes-Benz’s all-new 3.0-litre inline-6 fitted in the latest CLS 450. Mercedes spent a lot of money to develop this new engine, another one of those modular designs that everybody talks about these days.

Packing 299hp with the help of a 48V mild hybrid system, the new 2.0-litre engine makes a lot of sense in the E-Class E 350. It is, if analyzed dispassionately, a decent powerplant, but a car of the CLS’ positioning must have the stature and grace of a bigger engine.

In an era increasingly dominated by force-fed four-pots, Mercedes’ new inline-6 serves a wonderful reminder that even if you can get a pair of turbos to make up the numbers, large capacity engines continue to hold the advantage in smoothness and refinement.

In simplest terms, customers seduced into wanting the likes of the CLS 450 or AMG E 53 walk into the showroom, and upon realizing they can only afford half the budget, end up being tempted into signing the order form for a humble C 200. Little wonder then, that Mercedes now flies highest amongst premium brands.

So whilst the 2.0-litre turbo engines in their various states of tune will continue to serve the bread-and-butter offerings, Mercedes evidently understands the need to maintain the presence of larger engines in its model portfolio. These bigger engines raise the brand’s aspirational value, which in turn indirectly drive sales back to the regular models.

And what an engine it is. It is loaded with a bunch of latest tech that includes a 48-volt mild hybrid system. No need to dive too deep into the details beyond saying that it helped in making significant performance gains over the old 3.0 V6 whilst slashing fuel consumption by a good 15 percent (claimed).


We do understand, however, that somewhere in there is an electrically-powered compressor applying boost whilst you wait for the turbocharger to spool up. In short, this little device that spins to 70,000rpm within just 0.3 seconds serves to cover you from turbo lag.




The result of all these trickery is a beautifully smooth engine that revs almost with the linearity of atmo-breathing but with the grunt of turbocharging. And whilst there is still merit in arguing the merits of sheer displacement, the 3.0-litre unit already gas big engine traits built into it. The turbocharger merely enhances them.

Enthusiasts often say that the engine is a car’s heart and soul. In the CLS 450’s case, this 3.0-litre engine is the central highlight of the car’s driving experience; it helps the car to devour kilometres effortlessly whilst soothing your soul with its inherent smoothness.

This then leads us to the realization that there may indeed not be an adequate replacement for displacement when you look past the specs sheet and delve into the intangibles – the most important perhaps, might actually be acceptance. Because, however cleverly you manage your turbos, at any segment, consumers expect a certain minimum engine size, regardless of its horsepower and torque.

Case in point, you can also order your CLS with a decently punchy 2.0-litre turbo, but do you want to be the guy at the CLS owners party cowing your head in embarrassment when everybody else are either bragging about the virtues or mockingly moaning the high road tax and fuel consumption of their 3.0-litre inline-6? You’ll probably be looking for the nearest scraper to immediately hack off your CLS 350 badge.