Mercedes CLS320 | Shed of the Week

Classy, good-looking, well-mannered – shame about the limp

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, 22 September 2023 / Loading comments

As Shed’s marriage progressed, or went forward in time anyway, the choice of suitable vehicles for marital fun became less stylish and more functional as mobility was gradually lost and bulk less gradually gained. Just as well really because after one particularly bouncy session in the back of the family Ford, Mrs Shed inadvertently created the world’s first – and as far as Shed knows only – Zagato-roofed Mondeo estate. After that episode, they stuck to high-headroom stuff like Doblos and Berlingos. 

Nowadays of course motor-based smut with Mrs Shed is completely off the menu, but the postmistress’s demands are worryingly on the increase. As we speak Shed is nervously pondering her suggestive comments about the privacy afforded by shallow-windowed coupes. They’ve long been off his radar for back-related medical reasons, but today’s Mercedes CLS320 – the first to appear in SOTW – might well get him signing up for Jumping Jenny’s weekly Pilates club in the village hall. 

It’s a diesel, traditionally not the most romantic of fuel choices, but the 320 is a powerful and refined lump. The spec of the car on the whole is high and so is the condition. High condition doesn’t sound right but we’ll talk more about that a bit later. 

The elephant in the room here is the phrase ‘sometimes goes into limp mode’. Limp mode means something else in the Sheds’ bedroom, but in the case of a 320 diesel Merc it means digging around on tinternet to find the cause. It could be any one (or more than one) thing off a fairly long list of likely culprits. A Mercedes-dedicated MB STAR diagnostic tool is your friend. Not altogether surprisingly, only M-B dealerships are affluent enough to own the mega STARs, but a simple C3 system which covers most Benzes from 2000 to 2014 will cost you a little over £500. Still sounds a lot, but that does include a Dell laptop as well as the multiplexer and cables, so you could go into business diagnosing all your mates’ spluttering Mercs for £40 a go, or £400 in London. 

After plugging your shiny new STAR into this limping CLS you may well get a P0244 code, followed very probably by a P2510. If the car is showing poor fuel consumption, weak boost and an unusually gruff exhaust note, what you’ve almost definitely got there is a turbo actuator that’s seized in the open position. Your options are to get the actuator reconditioned for £100 or thereabouts, or (if there are other deeper issues like worn Teflon in the vane chamber) to buy a complete new Garrett turbo for around £750. These figures don’t include removal and installation costs, obvs. 

If you don’t want to go into the M-B diagnostics biz and are happy to pay someone else the dosh for the OBD info that hopefully confirms a recon actuator will do the trick, you could end up with what looks like a very nice two-owner CLS for just a couple of hundred quid over the £2,000 asking price. This 101,000-miler does look very clean. It comes with a decent-sounding service history and a worry-free MOT to next April with no mentions of any rust other than on the odd brake pipe ferrule. 

The vendors tell us that the bodywork needs attention, a statement that Shed will never again utter in Mrs Shed’s earshot, but apart from some missing wheel paint, a few tiny stone chips, an AMG badge that needs ripping off and a dodgy-looking air freshener hanging off the mirror he can’t see anything untoward here. In fact, the car really does look very nice indeed. 

Maybe this dealer has high standards. Their ad certainly fills in the entire bingo card of used car caveats and warnings. That will annoy plenty of forumsters here, but you can sort of understand it because even if you mend the limp, any Merc with air suspension has the potential to spoil your day, week, month or year. Go on, you know you want to – especially now that production of the CLS has literally just stopped after a near-20-year run, surely hastening the oft-predicted arrival of classic status. 

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