2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Review

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2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

Grand touring in a big luxury coupe.

By New Car Test Drive


The Mercedes-Benz CL has been an expensive and exclusive coupe since the
1950s. The CL-Class has evolved with the times, but the fundamental
mission of these coupes remains the same: High-performance and maximum
luxury in a gloriously stylish package.

As with all of its predecessors since 1958, there is no central B-pillar
aft of the doors to break the sleek lines of the body. With the windows
down, the look is sexy and the view out is panoramic, recalling cars of
the Fifties and Sixties when hardtops were in vogue.

Today’s CL is much larger than its ancestors. The big Mercedes coupes of
the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s were compact compared to contemporary U.S.
cars, and were powered by relatively small-displacement engines. Heavier
than an S-Class sedan, the current CL-Class qualifies as truly big, in
size and weight, and in power.

The CL-Class does remain exclusive, however. For Mercedes-Benz in North
America only the G-Class four-wheel drive and two-seat SLS AMG sell in
smaller quantities; annual CL sales equal Ford pickup sales for one day.
That degree of distinction is alluring to CL buyers.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has new front-end styling and added
electronic driving aids but the biggest change is under the hood.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL550 4MATIC has a new twin-turbo V8, smaller
than last year’s but with better economy and 30 percent more torque. For
2011, power is up by 47 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque over
last year. It also rates better fuel economy numbers on the order of 5-8
percent. The CL550 comes standard with all-wheel drive and an air

The rest of the CL-Class uses coil spring suspension and rear-wheel
drive. The rear-wheel-drive CL600, CL63 AMG, and CL65 AMG feel more
enthusiastic on winding roads, but the all-wheel-drive CL550 rides the
smoothest thanks to its air suspension and lighter weight.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG comes with a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter
V8 engine, which replaces the previous 6.2-liter V8. The new engine
delivers more power while using less fuel use and it comes coupled to a
more advanced 7-speed automatic transmission.

Beyond those are the electric-smooth twin-turbo V12 engines: the
ridiculously powerful CL600 with its 510-hp 5.5-liter V12 and the
preposterously powerful CL65 with its 621-hp 6-liter V12. Your friends
with race cars will be jealous because you’ll have the faster car.

Like its predecessors, the current Mercedes CL manages to be sporty
without being a true sports car. Securing the right exterior proportions
meant making the CL shorter than the S-Class, upon which it is based.
This produces a close-coupled, intimate interior, the kind historically
associated with coupes from time immemorial. We’d call the rear
passenger area moderate for adults, though similar luxury 2+2 coupes
(Aston Martin DB9, BMW M6, Bentley Continental, Ferrari 612) are more
cramped. The CL is for being one or two people or the occasional evening
quartet. If you want roominess in a big Mercedes, buy an S-Class sedan.
This car is about grand touring for two.

The cabin is sumptuous and inviting, dressed in the finest materials and
tailored to perfection. Fine woods, supple leather, brushed aluminum
and designer-quality knobs and switches are everywhere you look and
touch. The standard equipment list bulges with luxury items no one
really needs but almost anyone would love to have, from harman/kardon
600-watt, 11-speaker audio to soft ambient mood lighting. Through the
Mercedes COMAND central computer interface, many dozens of settings for
seats, climate, sound, lighting, navigation and much more can be
customized to your preferences.

The CL offers a breathtaking array of safety technology as standard
equipment: Nine airbags, dynamic stability control, traction control,
anti-lock brakes, automatic brake drying, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and
automatic window closers, to name just a few.

In short, the CL is ultra-luxurious, sexy, technologically advanced and
very stylish with excellent all-around driving capabilities. It’s
roomier than a sports car but tighter than a sedan. We think the CL will
be extremely appealing to a relative few drivers who fall in love with
the luxury of stylish lines, spa-level coddling and over-the-top power.

Model Lineup
2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class consists of four models, each
with its own engine and transmission. CL-Class standard equipment is
comprehensive. The seats, doors and instrument panel are all leather
covered, and burled walnut or black ash wood trim is used liberally. The
front seats are 14-way adjustable, heated and ventilated, and have
three-setting memory capability that also sets the electrically
telescoping-and-tilting steering wheel and side mirrors. The audio
system is a 600-watt harman/kardon Logic7 surround sound with 11
speakers and a 6CD in-dash changer, memory card slot and auxiliary
inputs. Sirius satellite radio is standard. There’s a power sunroof
overhead and a power sunshade in the rear parcel shelf. Doors have power
assist closing mechanisms, and the trunk-lid is electrically powered.
Side glass is dual-pane and infrared-reflective The Mercedes COMAND
system, a centralized computer interface with a dash-mounted flat panel
screen, is standard. It enables access to many of the car’s accessories
including navigation, phone, climate controls, and other customizable
features (exterior courtesy lights, seat settings and voice command
setup). Curve-following bi-Xenon headlights and rear fog lights are
standard too, as is Parktronic, a distance sensing parking aid hidden
behind the bumpers.

The Mercedes-Benz CL550 4MATIC ($113,150) has a 4.7-liter (4663-cc)
twin-turbo V8 rated at 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, a 7-speed
automatic transmission, air suspension and all-wheel drive. The CL550
4MATIC Premium 2 Package ($3,490) includes keyless entry system, dynamic
contour front seats fitted with pneumatic chambers that adjust cushion
firmness and lumbar support, a night vision system with pedestrian
detection, and a rear backup camera. A Driver Assist package ($2,950)
adds Distronic Plus active cruise control, active lane-keeping assist
and active blind spot warning. A Sport Package adds special aerodynamic
pieces and larger 19-inch wheels ($5,900) or 20-inch wheels ($6,650). Or
choose 19-inch ($1,270) or 20-inch ($2,070) wheels by themselves. Other
options include a heated steering wheel ($490), Splitview ($700),
Diamond White metallic paint ($795), and illuminated door sills ($700).

The Mercedes-Benz CL600 ($157,000) uses a 5.5-liter twin turbo V12 with
510 hp, 612 lb-ft of torque, and a 5-speed automatic transmission. The
CL600 includes virtually everything as standard equipment, including
Active Body Control suspension and Distronic Plus. Only the 20-inch
wheels, Diamond White paint, illuminated door sills, Splitview and some
dealer accessories are optional.

The Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG ($150,250) uses a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8
rated at 536 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque along with a 7-speed
multi-clutch transmission. The CL63 AMG comes with distinct bodywork and
higher-performance brakes, suspension, wheels and tires. Options
include the Driver Assist package ($2950), Premium 2 package ($2,200),
Diamond White paint, Splitview, and an AMG Performance package ($7,300)
that raises power and the top speed limiter from 155 to 186 mph. Forged
20-inch wheels ($1,700), carbon fiber cabin trim ($3,500), AMG
illuminated door sills ($1,000), and a heated wood and leather steering
wheel are available.

The Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG ($209,300) features a twin-turbo V12 rated at
621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque through an AMG Speedshift 5-speed
automatic. CL65 AMG models are fully equipped and use a unique
diamond-quilt pattern on seats and door panels, and offer the heated
steering wheel, carbon fiber trim and forged 20-inch wheels at no
charge. Only Splitview, AMG door sills ($1,000) and Diamond White paint
are extra. A Gas Guzzler Tax applies to the CL63 AMG ($1000) and CL65
AMG ($2600). (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer’s Suggested
Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change
at any time without notice.)

Designo features, lavish finishes and custom colors are available to personalize the cars to taste.

Safety features on all CL models include a pair of two-stage front
airbags, a driver’s-side knee airbag, front side airbags, rear side
airbags, and side-curtain airbags for front and rear passengers. There
are seatbelt pre-tensioners for the front passengers’ belts. Windows and
sunroof close automatically if the car detects an impending collision.
Also standard: ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and
automatic wet-weather drying, dynamic stability control, traction
control, and Distronic cruise control. Optional safety equipment
includes Distronic Plus distance-sensing cruise control with Parking
Guidance and Blind Spot Assist. All-wheel drive comes on the CL550
4MATIC, which improves handling stability in slippery conditions.


There are high expectations for cars in the rarefied league of the
Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, which includes Aston Martin, Bentley Continental
GT, Maserati Gran Turismo, and maybe the BMW 6 Series. Ultra-luxury
coupes are a statement of style and panache, capability and quality, and
they ought to look as expensive as they are. Mercedes has been making
range-topping coupes for many years, and it knows the game. The CL’s
styling does not disappoint.

From nose to tail, the CL is something out of the ordinary. Seen from
the front, it’s instantly identifiable as a Mercedes-Benz from its newly
revised twin-bar grille and lighting. The famous three-point star
emblem is front and center and as large as a dinner plate, just to be
sure you don’t mistake the CL for any other brand. As if you could.

At 200 inches long, this is a large car. Its size gives it presence and
the proportions are spot-on. It has substantial mass too, though the
front fenders, hood and door skins are aluminum and the trunk-lid is
composite. Surprisingly, the AMG performance models are ever-so-slightly

The front end stretches wide and sweeps back into a pair of prominent
flared front wheel openings, a design element derived from the S-Class
sedans with which the CL shares its underpinnings. Its 73.7-inch width
makes it look solidly planted and substantial. There’s moderate chrome
up front in typical Mercedes understatement. But it’s still a knockout
first impression. LED running and signal lights, and hidden radar and
parking sensors add the final bit of modernity to the nose.

It’s the sweep of the roof that makes the CL’s compelling style
statement. The top arcs dramatically over the side glass and down into
the C-pillar without the interruption of a B-pillar, the central support
post most cars have between front and rear side windows. The roofline
is sleek. And this is a true hardtop; you can drop the large side
windows down for a panoramic view and an open-air feeling. Handsomely
wrought chrome trim framing the large side-window opening emphasizes
both its shape and the absence of the second pillar. In profile, the CL
is gorgeous and sporty. The flank’s arches framing the rear wheels
appear slightly large on the all-wheel drive CL550 because it does not
have the wider-rear-than-front tire sizing of rear-drive CL cars.

Even as it drives away, the CL keeps your attention. The rear window’s
horseshoe-like shape is especially intriguing, like a canopy pulled taut
over a frame and not seen anywhere else in the automotive kingdom.
Below the rear window the tail tapers gracefully into a pair of large
taillights and a taut trunk lid wearing a subtle built-in rear spoiler
at its top edge. Sedans don’t look like this, and that’s just the point.

Outside of the model badges and wheels, the CL550 4MATIC and CL600 models are essentially identical from the outside.

The AMG models can be identified by distinctive grilles, wherein the
Mercedes star is supported by a single chrome bar over black mesh, and
by their more muscular-looking front bumper with larger air intakes.
Contoured side skirts carry the aggressive lines of the front bumper to
the rear, where four oval exhaust outlets punctuate the air diffuser set
into the unique rear apron. Both roll on 20-inch, five-spoke alloy
wheels, but with a slimmer-looking forged twin-spoke design standard on
the CL65 AMG.

Interior Features

Pulling open the door is the moment of truth in an ultra-luxury
coupe. Buyers in this class are expecting sumptuousness, high-end
materials and sophisticated design that convey the promise of being
coddled. Everyone who looked inside our test cars uttered an involuntary
sigh of approval. It’s beautifully designed, richly appointed and
finished with a fanatical attention to detail. And the sheer number of
luxury features is almost overwhelming, another sign that big sticker
price delivers something extraordinary.

Ensconced in the driver’s seat, you immediately register the raked-back
windshield and low roofline pressing down from above; it’s a narrow
viewing port by sedan standards but outward visibility is superior to
most Grand Tourers and 2+2s. The CL is just 2.2 inches lower than an
S-Class sedan, but it feels much more personal than that.

The surroundings are a sybarite’s delight. There’s almost nowhere your
hand falls that you’re not touching glove-soft leather, polished
woodwork, brushed aluminum or chrome. The instrument panel cover is
stitched in leather, as are the door panels and seats, buckets front and
rear. The steering wheel is silky leather or wood with leather grips at
the nine and three o’clock positions. It houses buttons in front for
the phone and COMAND system, and switches behind the top spokes for
manually shifting the transmission (aluminum on AMG models).

The exterior’s curvilinear theme is repeated in the interior. The center
console curves gently into the dashboard, and the interior front door
panels arc outward subtly at the elbow area, the shape accented by
delicate chrome accent strips. The door armrests are an artful
combination of wood stacked with leather covered padding. At night, soft
ambient, adjustable light glows from tiny hidden light strips in the
doors’ upper sections and across the middle of the dash. Only the
plastic-looking speaker covers at the window line and the arcing ridge
on the console where your arm rests leave room for improvement.

The wood trimmed center stack contains a thin row of easy-to-operate
brushed aluminum climate control switches, a hidden compartment for the
CD changer and a pair of vents flanking a square analog clock that looks
like it could double as Patek Phillipe wristwatch; on AMG models it is
an IWC Ingenieur timepiece.

Living in this car is every bit as satisfying as looking at it. The
center console is home to a push-and-slide-and-turn mouse-type knob that
is the main interface to the COMAND system and its thin-film transistor
(TFT) display. The screen is housed in a hooded binnacle to the right
of the driver’s gauges, some of which are also TFT technology, and the
display brightness is independent of the primary instrument panel.

For cars equipped with the optional night vision system, the large
speedometer in front of the driver transitions to a second viewing
screen when the system is activated in darkness. Several other buttons
arrayed around the mouse control transmission operation modes, the sound
system, rear shade and a short-cut to the dynamic seat adjustments.
Suspension adjustment switches are between the gauges and TFT screen.

Between the steering wheel buttons and mouse, you’re afforded several
paths of access to the multiple layers of the CL’s navigation, seating,
climate control and sound systems. You can set your preferences for
everything from radio stations to auxiliary lighting. You can program
the voice control to recognize your particular intonations. You can
input travel information and requests. And you can access, activate or
cancel dozens of other systems, including radar distance sensing,
daytime running lamps, tire pressure monitoring, and much, much more.

At times we wished it were easier to access some of the systems through
COMAND; it took several steps where one touch of a conventional button
would have worked more directly. It’s a bit easier to learn than BMW’s
system but there is a learning curve. We found using the COMAND system
while underway mildly distracting, but once set it up your use will be
limited because much of your requests can be done with steering wheel
buttons (with the info appearing inside the speedometer directly ahead)
or by voice.

The harman/kardon audio system delivers 600-watt performance through its 11 speakers and sounds superb.

The navigation system works well, with an easy-to-read rolling map and
good graphics. With the optional Splitview, the passenger can watch a
DVD with audio on headphones while the driver views a map or car data,
all full-size on the central screen.

Front-seat comfort is beyond reproach. The front cabin offers all the
legroom, width and headroom anyone but an NBA forward could need. The
power front seats are wonderful; the width and pocketing of the cushions
provide just the right amount of support to the back and under the
thighs, and, with the full range of adjustments available, almost anyone
can get comfortable. Even the length of the front-seat lower cushions
has considerable adjustable for just the right amount of thigh support.
Most CL are equipped with the optional active ventilated seats, which
contain several small fans to circulate cool or warmed air through the
perforated leather seat covering. Pneumatic bladders built into the
seats can be programmed to adjust the firmness of upper and lower side
bolsters, back rest, and shoulder area, as well as lumbar support
firmness and location. The seats also offer a massage feature; it’s
quite nice, actually, and virtually eliminates fatigue. We preferred the
fast and vigorous setting; imagine a soft rolling pin making its way
from your lumbar region to upper back. The programming is controlled
through the COMAND interface using clearly marked pictograms. The seats
can be programmed to automatically inflate upper and lower bolsters to
varying degrees when the car turns a corner to provide the driver and
passenger with extra lateral support. This brings the support of a sport
seat for spirited driving without the big bolsters some find confining,
to a luxurious armchair one slides in and out of.

The interior’s only real negative is rear-seat room. But this is a
coupe. If you need more back-seat space, you need a sedan. Though the
rear buckets are as handsome and almost as comfortable as the front
seats (they lack adjustability), this is a not a place to spend much
time for anyone over 5-foot, 8 inches. Despite its full-size 116.3-inch
wheelbase (albeit 8.2 inches less than that of the commodious S-Class
sedan), the CL’s dramatic dimensions mean rear legroom is limited. We
put a six-foot-three driver behind the wheel and then had him get in
back, where the fit was very tight but he admitted he could do 20-30
minutes easy back there.

Oddly, that lack of four-adult room may be one of the CL’s strongest
luxury statements: It’s a large car that can afford to ignore the
everyday requirement of passenger-carrying practicality. Need more
space? Take another car. Virtually everything that might compete with a
CL at some level has a less comfortable rear seat, including the Bentley
Continental GT, BMW 6 Series, Aston Martin DB9, and Ferrari 612

Cargo room is just the opposite. The trunk is deep, commodious and
finished in a handsome gray carpet; as large as that in Audi’s A8
long-wheelbase flagship sedan. Under the trunk floor is a shallow but
still useful cargo tray, and under that a spare tire (the type varies by
CL model but any flat will fit under the floor). Liftover height is
about average, and the electric powered opening-and-closing feature
saves fingernails and paintwork.

Driving Impressions

2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

The Mercedes-Benz CL is swift and smooth, but it’s too large,
heavy and luxurious to be called a sport coupe. But it is rewarding to
drive for just those reasons and makes a superb grand touring luxury

You start the Mercedes CL with the touch of a big aluminum button to the
right of the steering column. Then drop it into gear with a
column-mounted electronic shift lever similar to the kind BMW uses.
Purists may feel it’s an odd and un-sporty throwback to have a shifter
moved off of the center console and on to the steering column, but it
works well and frees up space.

The CL550’s 4,663 cc all-aluminum V8 is velvety smooth and nearly
silent, until you prod it. Even at moderate acceleration it throbs with
power like a big-motor yacht prop but absent the vibration that usually
goes with that sound. The CL550 V8 has more than enough oomph to get
going without rotating the tachometer past 2000 revs in traffic, or to
60 mph in less than five seconds at full tilt. In most instances the CL
starts in second gear and gas pedal response is mellow, even in sport
mode, but given how hard it can smack your skull into the headrest this
is probably best. The 7-speed automatic shifts imperceptibly in town,
smoothly at full throttle and never gets caught in the wrong gear in

Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 15/23 mpg City/Highway.

If there’s one word that describes the CL road experience, it’s silken.
On smooth surfaces it feels as if it’s riding on glass. Some vibration
or road harshness must be penetrating the hushed cabin, but it just
doesn’t feel like it. The sportier BMW 6 Series and Maserati Gran
Turismo register bumps harder and reveal surface imperfections far more
acutely. In the Benz, the smaller road irregularities get glossed over.
Over larger bumps the ride is not quite supple, more elastic in its
ability to cope with the road while maintaining comfort and control. It
is not enough to inspire the driver to attack the curves in a CL550,
although the CL can cover sweeping bends at a speed that seems
mind-bending for that much weight. The rear-wheel-drive CL models seem
more enthusiastic in corners.

The steering has a ball-of-silk feel, less sharp than in the BMW and
more relaxed in its responses. Though the steering effort rises with
road speed, the feeling remains comfortable, smooth and luxuriously
isolated rather than sports-car sharp. This is a car that works its way
down a winding road with grace and stability, and the active suspension
keeps it cornering quite flat. But the CL doesn’t communicate the sense
of the road or give you the urge to get aggressive in the way great
sports sedans do.

On the highway, the CL’s German DNA is fully in evidence. It has a
commanding, solid feel and is dead stable even at extra-legal speed.
It’s in these upper speed ranges that you notice that wind noise has
hardly increased at all. This is Autobahn breeding at work. The
all-wheel drive of the CL550 adds another layer of confidence, and as
the lightest model with air springs it delivers the gentlest ride.

The CL’s brakes feel confident, effortless and luxuriously insulated.
The brake pedal action is progressive and direct. You won’t find a
smoother set of brakes anywhere. In hard braking the system feels
powerful and was free of any fade. Decelerations from even high speed
were calm, quiet and drama-free, with not a bit of vibration or noise
transferred through the brake pedal or into the cabin. With the ability
to gather momentum so quickly a commensurate ability to shed speed is
needed and the CL fulfills this wonderfully. The front discs are not
only vented but cross-drilled like on race car.

Using Distronic Plus distance sensing cruise control is a leap of faith
that works. This optional radar-based distance monitoring system
automatically slows the CL, using the brakes if necessary, as you close
the gap on the car in front. That distance can be set between a hundred
and several hundred feet. When the system detects the lane ahead is
clear again, it accelerates back to your pre-set speed. The system works
beautifully in light Interstate traffic and reasonably well in
moderately denser intra-urban highway environments, though you must
remain aware and ready as it can not sense cross-traffic that might run a
stop sign in front of you. We recommend using it only for
limited-access highways. There’s more to Distronic Plus than active
cruise control. The system is tied into a comprehensive in-car safety
network. It will sound an alarm if the driver is gaining too fast on the
car ahead, meanwhile priming the brake system to apply full emergency
braking as soon as the driver even touches the brake pedal, no matter
how lightly. If the driver doesn’t respond to the distance alarm, the
system will apply up to 40 percent of total braking capacity
automatically to slow the car down.

Blind spot assistance is a system with sensors in the rear bumper that
detect other vehicles approaching in those hard-to-see,
over-the-shoulder-and-behind zones to either side. If you signal a lane
change or begin to steer from your lane, an arrow lights up in the
appropriate side mirror in colors keyed to danger level.

The parking guidance system has an enhanced function that scans the size
of a parallel parking space and determines if the CL will fit. As
before, shifting into reverse activates the camera, and grid lines
appear on the speedometer to help guide you into the parking space.

The night vision system actively projects infrared light from the
headlamps. An infra-red camera discreetly mounted in the windshield
receives the reflected images and displays them in a high-resolution
display in the center instrument cluster. The result is akin to a
highly detailed black-and-white video image.

Meanwhile, if a frontal crash is imminent, the Pre-Safe Brake system
takes action: It tightens the front seat belts milliseconds before
impact, moves the front passenger seat to its safest position, inflates
pneumatic chambers in the seats, closes the side windows to add support
for the side-curtain airbags (and to keep occupants’ arms inside the
vehicle), initiates partial braking to slow the vehicle and closes the
sunroof. If you’re unfortunate enough to get into an accident, there are
few better places to be.

The CL600 comes with a twin-turbocharged V12 that delivers more power
and even greater smoothness than the CL550. The CL600 produces 510
horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. This massive amount of power is
the primary reason it has a 5-speed automatic: The 7-speed couldn’t
handle it. The V12 is so smooth and quiet in stop-and-go traffic it
almost feels like the car is powered by an electric motor. Yet
awe-inspiring acceleration is just a push of the pedal away: Mercedes
quotes a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds for the CL600, smack in serious sports
car territory. There’s so much low-end power on tap that the tires
would spin wildly if not for the traction control systems working
overtime. Highway acceleration feels like a DVD on fast-forward. We
don’t know why anyone would actually need this much power in a CL, but
it is amazing to experience it. It’s not about need. Nearly all of what
we reported on the CL550 and its multitudinous systems is true of the
CL600, which includes virtually all of them as standard.

A CL63 AMG comes with a new 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 536
horsepower at 5500 rpm and 590 pound-feet of torque at 2000; gains of 18
and 125, respectively. With the AMG Performance pack option output
rises to 563 hp and 664 lb-ft and the 0-60 time drops one-tenth of a
second, a clear indication initial acceleration is traction limited. The
7-speed multi-clutch transmission, proven in SL and E AMG models, that
offers multiple shift modes from relaxed to rifle. Massive brakes and
recalibrated suspension ensure the power and speed remain controlled.

The CL65 is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged and intercooled V12
that produces 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, for a
claimed rocket ride from 0-60 mph in just 4.2 seconds; about two seconds
after an economy car reaches 60 the CL65 is already going more than
twice that speed. Once moving it gathers velocity like it has five first
gears, the buttery-smooth engine merely whirring away effortlessly at
low revs where most sport coupes are struggling to get going.

The AMG models use the same active suspension as the CL600, but it’s
tuned for flatter cornering and tighter control of body motion, and
stability and traction-control functions are upgraded for the additional
power. A button on the center console allows the driver to choose among
three different shift programs, Sport, Comfort, or Manual, that
fine-tune accelerator pedal response and spring and shock absorber
settings. While both CL AMG models are quick and competent, the CL63 is
slightly more driver-oriented than the intimidating CL65.

The AMG models also feature large composite brake discs (15.4-inch
diameter in front, 14.4-inch in the rear), to slow them in a hurry,
converting all that speed to heat in mere moments. Providing room for
those big binders are 20-inch alloy wheels, 8.5 inches wide in front and
9.5 inches at the rear, wearing low-profile 255/35R20 front and
275/35R20 rear tires. Mercedes claims the CL65 can stop from 60 mph in
116 feet.


2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

The Mercedes-Benz CL coupe is a melding of sensuous design and
cosseting luxury that few other vehicles in the world can match. The
CL-Class offers svelte driving dynamics and a near endless list of
luxury and safety equipment. This is a car for people who are smitten by
its special nature, technological arsenal or monumental power, have the
wherewithal to afford one and prefer understatement to flamboyancy.
Correspondents G.R. Whale and John F. Katz contributed to this
NewCarTestDrive.com report.

Model Line Overview

Model lineup: Mercedes-Benz CL550 4MATIC ($113,150); CL600 ($157,000); CL63 AMG ($150,250); CL65 AMG ($209,300)
Engines: 429-hp
4.7-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 twin-turbocharged; 510-hp 5.5-liter SOHC
36-valve twin-turbocharged V12; 536-hp 5.5-liter DOHC 32-valve V8
twin-turbocharged; 621-hp 6.0-liter SOHC 36-valve twin-turbocharged V12
Transmissions: 7-speed automatic; 7-speed multi-clutch; 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual
frontal two-stage airbags; driver’s side knee airbag; front and rear
side-impact airbags; side curtain airbags; Pre-Safe system (front
seatbelt pre-tensionsers, passenger seat positioner, side window and
sunroof closer); electronic stability control; ABS; automatic brake
drying; electronic brake proportioning; Brake Assist; Electronic
Stability Program; ASR traction control; tire pressure monitoring system
Safety equipment (optional): Distronic
Plus distance monitoring cruise control, Blind Spot Assist,
lane-keeping assist, back-up monitor with parking guidance, night vision
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in: Sindelfingen, Germany

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Mercedes Benz CL550 ($113,150)
Standard equipment: dual
zone climate control; leather-covered seats, door panels and instrument
panel; heated/ventilated front seats with memory; power tilt/telescope
steering column; power windows; power locks; power mirrors; COMAND
central control; trip computer; navigation; harman/kardon 11-speaker
AM/FM/WB/satellite audio system with 6CD in-dash changer and memory-card
slot; glass sunroof; electric powered trunk lid; electric door-closing
assist; park distance sensors; power rear window sunshade
Options as tested (MSRP): Premium
2 package ($3,490), Driver assistance package ($2,950), Sport Plus One
package ($6,650), heated steering wheel ($490), Splitview ($710)
Destination charge: ($875)
Gas guzzler tax: 1300
Price as tested (MSRP): $129,615
Layout: all-wheel drive
Engine: 4.7-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 twin-turbo
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 429 @ 5250
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 516 @ 1800
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 15/23 mpg
Wheelbase: 116.3 in.
Length/width/height: 200.6/73.7/55.8 in.
Track, f/r: 63.0/63.3 in.
Turning circle: 38.1 ft.
Seating capacity: 4
Head/hip/leg room, f: 36.9/62.0/42.2 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 36.4/56.0/32.2 in.
Cargo volume: 13.5 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: N/A
Suspension, f: independent, double wishbone, adjustable shocks, air springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, r: independent, five-link, adjustable shocks, air springs, stabilizer bar
Ground clearance: 5.1 in.
Curb weight: 4619 lbs.
Tires: 255/35ZR20
Brakes, f/r: vented disc/vented disc with ABS, electronic brake proportioning, electronic brake assist, automatic disc drying
Fuel capacity: 21.9 gal.

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