2013 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

By July 17, 2013
2013 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

The Mercedes-Benz CL-Class dates from the 300S of 1952. The concept has evolved with the times, but the fundamental mission of these exclusive coupes remains the same: high performance and high luxury in a gloriously stylish package.

The earliest versions looked cozy and close-coupled, with no rear quarter glass behind the side windows. An all-new body for 1961 introduced the more modern style that the CL-Class retains today, with rear quarter windows but 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-Class 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-Class sales equal Ford pickup sales for one day. That degree of distinction is alluring to CL-Class buyers.

The Mercedes-Benz CL550 4MATIC is powered by a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8, rated 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a 7-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive and an air suspension.

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 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG comes with a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine, which delivers 536 horsepower and 590 pound-feet, and a 7-speed multi-clutch transmission with SpeedShift, a feature that offers multiple shift modes.

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 AMG with its 621-hp 6-liter V12. Your friends with race cars will be jealous because you’ll have the faster car.

Both V8 engines were new for the 2011 model year, when they replaced larger but less efficient and therefore slightly less potent V8s. The only notable change to the CL-Class since then is the addition of the Grand Edition appearance package, which makes the CL550 4MATIC look more like the AMG models.

Like its predecessors, today’s CL-Class manages to be sporty without being a true sports car. Securing the right exterior proportions meant making the CL-Class 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) are more cramped. The CL is for 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-Class 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 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 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. The CL-Class is appealing for its stylish lines, spa-level coddling and over-the-top power.

Model Lineup

The 2013 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. SiriusXM 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 ($115,300) 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). Other options include a heated steering wheel ($490), Splitview entertainment system ($710), a wide range of specialty paints ($250-3950), and illuminated door sills ($700).

Grand Edition package ($4650) adds the deeper, more aggressive-looking front and rear fascias from the AMG models; a choice of 19-inch, AMG-style five-spoke wheels or 20-inch ten-spoke wheels; and a choice of Mocha Black Metallic, Platinum Black Metallic, or Magno Cashmere White Metallic paint, all three of which would otherwise be extra-cost options. The Grand Edition interior is black leather with a choice of black ash or walnut trim.

The Mercedes-Benz CL600 ($160,300) 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 specialty paints, illuminated door sills, Splitview, and some dealer accessories are optional.

The Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG ($153,00) 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 SpeedShift 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), specialty paints, 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 ($213,200) 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 the special paints are extra.

Gas Guzzler Taxes apply to the V12 models as follows: CL600 ($2600) and CL65 AMG ($2100). Slight improvements in fuel economy have allowed the V8s to avoid the tax for 2013. (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-Class 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 GranTurismo, 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. CL-Class styling does not disappoint.

From nose to tail, the CL-Class is something out of the ordinary. Seen from the front, it's instantly identifiable as a Mercedes-Benz. 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-Class 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 (but probably because of their bigger wheels), the AMG performance models are ever-so-slightly taller.

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-Class 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-Class'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-Class 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-Class models.

Even as it drives away, the CL-Class 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 forged 20-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels featuring a slim-looking twin-spoke design.

Interior Features

Pulling open the door is the moment of truth in an ultra-luxury coupe. Buyers in this class are expecting sumptuous materials and sophisticated design. Everyone who looked inside our Mercedes-Benz CL-Class test cars uttered an involuntary sigh of approval. These cars are beautifully designed, richly appointed and finished with a fanatical attention to detail. The sheer number of luxury features is almost overwhelming.

Ensconced in the driver's seat, you immediately register the raked 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 touring cars and 2+2s. The CL-Class 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).

You start the engine of the Mercedes CL-Class 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 interior design is curvilinear. 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 up, many functions can be accessed through the 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. All CL models are equipped with active ventilated seats, which contain several small fans to circulate cool or warmed air through the perforated leather seat covering. Optional Multi-Contour seats add pneumatic bladders built into the seats that 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 8.3 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, and Aston Martin DB9.

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

Though too large, heavy and luxurious to be called a sport coupe, the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is swift and smooth and makes a superb grand touring luxury car for those reasons.

The CL550's 4663 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 it 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 traffic.

Fuel economy for the CL550 is an EPA-rated 15/24 mpg City/Highway.

If there's one word that describes the CL550 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 GranTurismo register bumps harder and reveal surface imperfections 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 it can cover sweeping bends at a speed that seems mind-bending for that much weight. The rear-wheel-drive CL-Class models seem more enthusiastic in corners than does the all-wheel-drive CL550.

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-Class 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 German DNA is fully in evidence in the CL-Class. 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-Class 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-Class 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-Class, 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 car will fit. 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 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 536 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 590 pound-feet of torque at 2000. 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-Class and E-Class AMG models, 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-Class 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.


The Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 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. Boasting monumental power, this is a big luxury coupe loaded with technology. The CL-Class comes in a range of models offering ever higher levels of performance.

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent G.R. Whale reported on the CL-Class from California, with John F. Katz reporting from Pennsylvania.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Mercedes-Benz CL550 4MATIC ($115,300); CL600 ($160,300); CL63 AMG ($153,000); CL65 AMG ($213,200)
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 system
Basic warranty:4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:Sindelfingen, Germany
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Mercedes Benz CL550 ($115,300)
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 (MSPR):Premium 2 package ($3,490), Driver assistance package ($2,950), Sport Plus One package ($6,650), heated steering wheel ($490), Splitview ($710)
Destination charge:$905
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$130495
Layout:all-wheel drive
Engine:4.7-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 twin-turbo
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):429 @ 5250
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):516 @ 1800-3500
Transmission:7-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:15/24 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.
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 weigth:4619 lbs.
Tires:255/35ZR20 / 275/35ZR20
Brakes, f/r:vented disc/vented disc with ABS, electronic brake proportioning, electronic brake assist, automatic disc drying
Fuel capacity:21.9 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of July 17, 2013.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-367-6372 - www.mbusa.com

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