Recently we had Mike Brown, co-founder of ModBargains, bring his 2014 Mercedes CLS 63 AMG S 4Matic into the shop for some sweet upgrades. Mike is no novice when it comes to modifying his vehicles. His previously featured Cadillac CTS-V build is very tastefully done so we were thrilled to see he wanted to start modifying his Mercedes. Without a doubt the CLS63 AMG is a monster in its factory form, the twin turbo V8 power-plant produces so much power that engine modifications are not really the first thing one would look for. However, the area where almost every vehicle imaginable can benefit right off the bat is exterior modification. On this particular occasion Mike came in to get some new wheels installed as well as getting the car lowered.
Working closely with our General Manager Alan Mike picked out some lovely HRE FF04 wheels in Satin Bronze Metallic (or “IPA” as HRE has dubbed it). This color goes amazingly well with the Diamond White Metallic of the CLS and the split five spoke design shows off the massive AMG brake calipers and rotors perfectly. He went with the HRE recommended sizing and offsets of 20×9 et25 in the front and 20×10.5 et35 in the rear. For the tires he went with the Michelin Pilot Super Sports, one of our favorite Extreme Summer Performance Tires, in 255/30R20 front and 295/25R20 rear.
When it came to suspension the decision was a bit trickier. Modifying the suspension of a high end modern vehicle isn’t as simple as it used to be. This particular model comes standard from the factory with adaptive suspension and self leveling rear air suspension. If Mike had wanted to install aftermarket coilovers or full air suspension it would’ve meant buying expensive adaptive suspension delete kits and losing functionality of the factory adjustment buttons. Doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade if you’re sacrificing features just to get it to work. Luckily our friends over at KW have a much simpler solution.
The KW Height Adjustable Spring System (H.A.S.) utilizes a coil spring and threaded spring perch for the front suspension, giving you a lowering range of approximately 0.8″ to 1.6″ lower than stock. This setup give you full height adjustability while still maintaining functionality of the factory adaptive suspension by retaining use of the OEM dampers. The rear suspension is a bit different because it utilizes a pair of air springs and complex electronics to auto level the rear suspension regardless of load on the rear wheels. However, because of the way this system is designed there is actually a very simple solution that takes advantage of the factory adjustment procedure for the CLS.
There is a small adjustment rod connecting the car’s suspension leveling module with the rear control arms. This rod helps the leveling module determine the distance the rear control arms are from the car’s body and during production and dealership tuneups the rod is adjusted to keep the car zeroed in on the correct height at all times. What the KW H.A.S. kit does is supplies a set of shorter adjustment rods for use in place of the stock rods. This essentially tricks the rear suspension into thinking the car is riding higher than it actually is and subsequently causes the leveling module to reduce the length of the air spring and bring the car down lower. The lowering range is approximately 0.6″ to 1.4″ lower than stock. It’s such a simple solution to a complex system but it works out beautifully and preserves all the functionality of the CLS’s advanced suspension. The alternative would’ve been spending several thousand dollars on coilovers or air suspension which might’ve changed the ride characteristics of the car substantially in addition to removing the function of the adaptive dampers.
In the end the new wheels and tasteful lowering look fantastic and give the car a more sleek and aggressive look that is sure to stand out. Big shout-out to Mike for letting us share his build and some of the unique technology on his car with all of our readers. If you’re interested in some style or performance upgrades for your own vehicle our team of Mod Experts would love to help you pick out the best mods to suit your needs. You can reach us at (714)-582-3330 or by email at [email protected].