Oversized luxury coupes have nearly died out since their heyday in the 60's and 70's, making Mercedes' CL-Class something of a rarity. Based on the previous generation S-Class sedan, the CL combines a coddling interior with a choice of supremely powerful engines. Although there are sportier two-doors on the market, none has the regal presence and generously sized rear seats of this grand tourer.
Those looking for even more performance from their CL should check out the absurdly potent CL63 AMG and CL65 AMG models.
The last few years have seen the CL receive a series of mild updates that brought freshened styling and a more powerful "base" V8.
Of note, the current model year is the CL's last on the market; it will soon be replaced by a redesigned model with a new name - the S-Class Coupe.
Though it's getting on in years, the CL continues to be the very picture of understated elegance, its stately-yet-athletic look standing out from the trendily-styled mainstream like a gentleman in a fine saville row suite standing amid hipsters.
The interior is a sumptuous space replete with fine wood trim, supple leather and numerous impressive convenience features such as a Splitview infotainment display. This clever screen allows the driver and front passenger to each view separate content at the same time, for instance letting the driver keep tabs on the navigation system while the passenger simultaneously watches a movie.
There's plenty of room for passengers both front and rear, and the CL's unique B-pillar-less design creates a sense of space and openness that only a convertible can exceed.
The CL is offered as two different models, each with a distinct engine.
The CL550 4MATIC is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that produces 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, enough to motivate the big coupe from zero-to-60 mph in 4.9 seconds.
The V8 is teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via Mercedes' 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. Fuel economy is quite respectable given the car's power and mass: 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
The most powerful non-AMG CL is the CL600, which utilizes 5.5-liter biturbo V12 that reports for duty with 510 horsepower and an amazing 612 lb-ft of torque. This powerhouse teams with an aging but sturdy five-speed automatic transmission, and the duo is good for a zero-to-60 mph time of under 4.5 seconds along with gas mileage of 12/18 mpg.
Buyers in northern climates take note: unlike the CL550 4MATIC, the CL600 comes exclusively in rear-wheel-drive form.
Standard and Optional Features
The CL-Class is fitted as standard with leather upholstery, wood trim, heated and ventilated front power-adjustable seats, a navigation system, an 11-speaker AM/FM/CD Harmon/Kardon stereo system with a six-disc CD/DVD changer, HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio and an AUX input, Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, a proximity key, LED running lights, active bi-xenon headlights, a power-operated trunk, a power rear window sunshade and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The available Premium 2 Package brings massaging front seats with active bolsters, infrared night vision and a rearview camera. The Sport Package includes 19-inch wheels and a bodykit. The Sport Package Plus One adds 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, summer tires and a bodykit. The Driver Assistance Package nets an automated braking system, crash detection and adaptive cruise control.
In terms of safety and security features, the CL comes with roadside assistance, adaptive dual stage front airbags, driver knee airbag, side and full-length curtain airbags and active head restraints. Electronic safety comes in the form of an electronic stability program, a predictive occupant protection system, a roll-over sensor, anti-theft alarm with engine shut-down and night security illumination.
The CL-Class also debuted Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist, both designed to help the driver avoid danger through corrective braking.
Active Lane Assist works by utilizing a multi-purpose camera, mounted in the windshield, which analyzes images and then simulates rumble strips when drivers begin to drift into another lane unintentionally. Should the driver fail to notice the faux-rumble strip effect being relayed through an electric motor in the steering wheel the car will gently apply brakes on the opposite side of the vehicle, creating a yaw movement which aims to keep the car in the intended lane.
The second active safety feature debuting on the CL-Class, Active Blind Spot Assist, monitors both blind spots alongside the vehicle using close-range radar sensors. When a vehicle is detected in a blindspot, a yellow warning triangle is illuminated in the corresponding side-view mirror. Should the driver disregard this warning and activate the turn indicator, the warning triangle changes to red and an audible warning also sounds.
If a driver continues to ignore these warnings and moves dangerously close to a neighboring vehicle, the system activates corrective braking intervention to the wheels of the opposite side of the vehicle, acting like Active Lane Assist, and using the yaw movement to keep the vehicle from colliding with the vehicle found in the blind spot.
The standard CL-Class - available in CL550 and CL600 flavor - is up against the BMW 6-Series, Jaguar XKR and Maseratti GranTurismo.