Mercedes-Benz has introduced a more affordable variant of the C257 CLS in China dubbed the CLS 260, which slots in below the CLS 300 and CLS 350 4Matic in the local line-up.

Priced at 576,800 yuan (RM353,670), the new base model is 61,000 yuan (RM37,402) cheaper than the CLS 300 and a whopping 213,000 yuan (RM130,590) less than the top-spec CLS 350 4Matic sold there.

Where we live, the CLS is offered in CLS 350 and CLS 450 guises, with the former being priced at RM570,888, while the latter is RM698,888. There’s also an AMG variant (CLS 53 4Matic) that goes for RM878,888.

The “affordable” sum is largely due to the CLS 260’s 1.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which takes advantage of the country’s lower tax burden that is imposed on vehicles with an engine displacement of less than 1.5 litres. By comparison, the CLS 300 (258 PS or 255 hp/370 Nm) and CLS 350 (299 PS or 295 hp/400 Nm) both sport 2.0 litre engines, so they don’t qualify for these incentives – the latter is the same output as our own non-4Matic CLS 350.

Here, the downsized mill (with EQ Boost mild hybrid tech) makes 184 PS (181 hp) and 280 Nm of torque, with a nine-speed automatic transmission directing drive to the rear wheels, which is the same setup found in the C 200 sold in Malaysia. Performance-wise, the CLS 260 takes 8.7 seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h, has a top speed of 250 km/h, and averages about 7.2 l/100 km according to local standards.

It’s also worth noting that Mercedes-Benz China also sells the E-Class (standard and long wheelbase) with the same engine and optional all-wheel drive, which feature the E 260, E 260 L and E 260 L 4Matic variant names – the E 260 starts from 420,800 yuan (RM257,962) in China.

Standard equipment on the CLS 260 include the AMG Line package, a choice of two 19-inch alloy wheels, LED High Performance headlamps, Nappa leather upholstery, dual 12.3-inch displays, Thermatic climate control, Dynamic Select and Active Brake Assist.

While the base price may be cheap, a bevy of options like the Night package, premium interior trimmings, Keyless-Go, a Burmester sound system, a 360-degree around view monitor, Parktronic and additional rear side airbags will drive the final price upwards.