Mercedes-Benz pioneered the notion of a premium four-door coupe with the first CLS in 2004. Despite the somewhat counter-intuitive nature of a sedan masquerading as a coupe, the CLS was a success, with customers lining up in droves and competitors from Audi to Hyundai stealing styling cues. The CLS63 AMG is the range-topper of the second-generation CLS, a car that mixes performance, style and luxury in equal measure.
Essentially a re-bodied E63 AMG, the CLS63 AMG puts looks above all else thanks to a lowered roof, puckered tail and curvy dashboard. While the E-Class is practical and formal, the CLS seeks to be evocative and emotional.
Under the hood rests the heart of the CLS63 AMG: a twin-turbocharged and direct fuel-injected monster of a V8. This 5.5-liter unit makes "just" 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque in standard form, or 550 ponies and 590 lb-ft with the AMG Performance Package thanks to a boost increase from 14.5 psi to 18.8.
Expect zero-to-60 mph times in the high three second range with the more powerful engine, while owners of the base car will have to twiddle their thumbs for an additional 0.2 seconds to reach the same velocity.
A seven-speed automatic transmission dubbed the "SPEEDSHIFT MCT" utilizes a wet clutch pack in place of a traditional torque converter. The result is gear changes that can occur in just .1 second in the transmission's sportiest shift mode. The transmission features smooth rev-matching during downshifts and has a launch mode for stoplight racing; if drivers want to take control into their own hands, aluminum paddle shifters situated behind the wheel allow them to do just that.
The CLS63 gets the full AMG treatment, including upgraded brakes, AMG adaptive sport suspension and new 19-inch aluminum wheels. It also gets a unique bodykit outside and sportier premium leather seats inside.
An AMG Performance Package adds a limited slip differential, a raised speed limiter (to 186 miles per hour, from 155), further upgraded brakes, an Alcantara synthetic suede steering wheel and unique alloy wheels.
Standard and Optional Features
The standard features list is extensive, including ventilated seats, navigation, Xenon headlamps, adaptive cruise control, a 14-speaker Harmon/Kardon LOGIC7 5.1-channel surround sound system, HD radio, in-dash six-disc DVD changer, power moonroof, 14-way power and heated seats and dual-zone climate control.
For those seeking even more luxury, a number of options packages can be spec'd to make for a truly decadent automobile.
The Premium One Package includes heated, ventilated and active multicontour seats, full LED headlights, a rear view camera, an electronic trunk closer, Mercedes' KEYLESS-GO system and Adaptive High-beam Assist.
The Driver Assistance Package nets Active Blind-Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Distronic Plus (an active cruise control system).
Stand alone-options include a limited-slip differential, Night View Assist PLUS (an infrared nighttime driving feature), a PARKTRONIC active parking assistance system, a carbon-fiber spoiler and rear side-impact airbags.
Mercedes-Benz has long been known for its safety features, and the CLS63 AMG will only add to that reputation. In addition to ABS and ESP stability control, the car boasts nine supplemental restraints including two-stage front air bags, a knee air bag for the driver and pelvic air bags which work together with curtain and side air bags to provide extra protection for front occupants in dangerous side-impact collisions.
Also standard is an "ATTENTION ASSIST" system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.
The one that started it all, the CLS63 AMG now faces competition from the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A7, as well as the Porsche Panamera Turbo.