While the Mercedes-Benz S Class is often cited as the brand’s highest-rung offering, it has one simple problem: it’s got four doors. While four doors (and an extended wheelbase) make hauling passengers in comfort easier, four doors aren’t nearly as stylish as two, and not everyone in the upper strata of income wants to drive a sedan.
Enter the Mercedes-Benz CL Class, the range-topping coupe that’s offered as an alternative to the S Class sedan. Like its four-door sibling, the CL Class comes in distinct variants, though most are aimed to please the most hardcore driving enthusiasts. Even the entry-level CL, the CL 550 4MATIC, boasts a 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 429 horsepower, sending its output through a seven-speed automatic to all four wheels. While the car’s focus is performance over fuel economy, it still returns up to 15-percent better fuel economy than the normally-aspirated 6.3-liter V-8 it replaces.
If that’s not fast enough for you, successive CL models include the 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V-8 CL 63 AMG, rated at 536 horsepower; the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-12 CL 600, with 510 horsepower; and the CL 65 AMG, with a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12 rated at a range-topping 621 horsepower. The slowest of the bunch, the CL 550 4MATIC, can still rip off a 0 - 60 time under five seconds, while the quickest, the CL 65 AMG, can make the run in a mere 4.3 seconds. Top speed ranges from 155 mph in the CL 550 4MATIC to 186 mph in the CL 65 AMG; both are academic in a country where the highest speed limit is 85 mph.
Like the S Class, styling on the CL is best described as tasteful and refined. There’s nothing flashy about the car, even in AMG form, which suits buyers of this coupe just fine. With prices ranging from $115,300 (excluding destination) for the CL 550 4MATIC to $213,200 (excluding destination) for the CL 65 AMG, a gaudy body kit or an oversized rear wing would cheapen the car’s image.
Inside, front seat passengers ride in supreme comfort, while the rear seats are best left for those agile enough to access them. There’s more second-row room than most other competing luxury coupes once your seated, but climbing in or out requires a degree of flexibility. Those needing to haul a variety of passengers on a regular and ongoing basis will probably do better shopping for an S Class sedan.
The CL Class makes a superb grand touring car, swallowing up miles and winding roads with equal aplomb. Thank the Active Body Control and Direct Steer functions for that, as both combine to make the CL Class drive a thousand pounds lighter than its two-and-a-quarter ton curb weight would have you believe.
The list of standard equipment is long and impressive, including leather upholstery, power front seats, a DVD-based navigation system, walnut trim and HD Radio. Standard or available safety systems include Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, Attention Assist, Brake Assist Plus and Blind Spot Assist.
For a more complete look at the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CL Class, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection