The Test Drive
The video above shows the newly revised luxury coupe as it seemlessly continues the tradition. The CL is the epitome of luxury and a master
of performance. These are the perfect foundations for a very special kind of test drive.
For model year 2011, the CL-Class has been upgraded. More than a mid-life upgrade, this is closer to a model change. Out front, the hood,
fenders, bumper, grill and headlamps are all brand new. Out back, the bumper and taillights are also new. The car is still unmistakably a
CL, but definitely different than the 2010 model.
The drivetrain has also been significantly revamped. All V8 powered non-AMG CLs come standard with a seven-speed automatic and 4MATIC
all-wheel-drive systems. The V8 in this package has also been dramatically improved. The previous 5.5 liter V8s have been replaced with dual
turbocharged 4.6 liter direct injected V8s. The new engines are both more powerful and more efficient. The new engine produces 429
horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The 516 lb-ft of torque is not the peak number. That is the amount available from 1800 RPM. In
comparison, the new engine produces 45 percent more torque at 2000 RPM. Fuel economy has been improved 10 to 15 percent (exact figures were
not available at the time of this writing), and emissions have been reduced by 23 percent. These are dramatic improvements in three major
categories, making the standard powertrain upgrades highly desirable.
The standard AMG has also been upgraded. The 6.3 liter naturally aspirated V8 has been replaced by a hand built
dual-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8. It too has direct fuel injection, but it also has a start / stop feature that turns the
engine off when the vehicle stops and restarts it when the gas pedal is pressed. The new 5.5-liter AMG engine has 536
horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. This is an improvement of 3 percent. The AMG engine is also 20 to 30 percent more
fuel-efficient than the outgoing 63. This year, an optional performance package is available. With the performance
package, output is increased to 563 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Rather than 4MATIC, the AMG version uses rear
wheel drive. Channeling that power to the rear wheels is AMG's seven-speed multi-clutch transmission. Although based
on the standard model's seven-speed automatic, the torque converter in this transmission is replaced with an
automatically operated clutch.
The CL550 is a fantastic all-weather coupe. Although not as fast as the AMG model, the difference to sixty MPH is minimal. The CL550 reaches
60 in 4.8 seconds and with 4MATIC, the car is securely planted in inclement conditions.
The CL63 is a beast. That's "beast" in a good way. At 4.4 seconds, it's marginally faster to sixty MPH, but there is much
more to the story. When the loud pedal is planted in the 63, there's an authoritative roar in conjunction with an emphatic pull to its
electronically controlled top speed of 155 MPH. With the optional performance package, top speed is increased to 186 MPH. The AMG also has
improved suspension. At higher speeds, the active body control keeps the car flatter, whereas the CL550 has a bit more body roll. Both cars
effortlessly absorb road imperfections, and both wind and road noise are held to an absolute minimum.
The interiors are absolutely gorgeous. The seating areas are hand fitted glove-soft premium leather. The front seats have 14-way power
adjustments, with heating and active ventilation. A full length central console starts at the dash, runs between the front seats, and
continues to the rear seatbacks. The console is opulently trimmed in leather and wood, and is used to establish the four personalized
seating areas of the CL. This console is purposely equipped with generous storage areas and beverage holders beneath wood-trimmed covers.
Surrounding the occupants is hand polished wood trim in either Burl Walnut or Black Ash on the leather covered dash and doors. The ambience
is further enhanced with a network of LEDs and fiber optics that cast a gentle glow from beneath the dash and door panels. Naturally the
upper areas have glass, but the glass selected is laminated and infrared reflecting, which reduces ambient noise and reduces radiant heat.
The entertainment options include harmon/kardon surround sound with a minimum of 11 speakers fed by an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, that
allows one to watch DVDs (while parked of course), an iPod/MP3 interface, HD radio and Sirius.
The list of safety equipment is endless. CLs have nine airbags that offer 11-way protection, crush zones where
preferred, high strength occupant protection zones, PRE-SAFE, emergency tensioning devices, belt force limiters, tire
pressure monitoring equipment, automatic brake drying systems, brake assist, DISTRONIC PLUS, PRE-SAFE, bi-xenon
headlamps with active curve illumination, night view assist with pedestrian detection, active lane keeping assist,
active blind spot assist, adaptive damping, ESP, and a number of other features that literally make this the safest CL
For those who need a little more, there are a few options that can be checked off on the option sheet. However, the
ultimate CLs are the twelve cylinder models. The CL600 is a limited production 5.5 liter dual turbo V12 that produces
510 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque. The CL65 is the AMG version, which has a higher performance 6 liter dual turbo
V12 that produces 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. These are peerless coupes. True flagships that offer an
outstanding driving experience.
Vee-Eight Technical Data
Two-door, four-passenger coupe
Steel unit body; aluminum front fenders, doors and hood; composite trunk lid.
90-degree gasoline V8
Four valves per cylinder
Duplex chain-driven dual overhead camshaft
Displacement (cu. in./cc)
284.5 / 4,663
333.3 / 5,461
3.66 / 92.9
3.86 / 98.0
3.39 / 86.1
3.56 / 90.4
Horsepower @ rpm
429 @ 5,250
536 @ 5,500 or 563 with the Performance Package
Torque (lb-ft.) @ rpm
516 @ 1,800-3,500
590 @ 2,000-4,500 or 664 with the Performance Package
Direct gasoline injection with piezo injectors, twin turbo w/12.9 lbs. boost
Direct gasoline injection with piezo injectors, twin turbo w/14.2 (15.6)* lbs. boost
Max. engine speed (rpm)
Seven-speed electronically controlled automatic with driver-adaptive shift logic.
Seven-speed electronically controlled multi-clutch automatic transmission with AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS