2008 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

As its name might suggest, the CL65 AMG is Mercedes' large coupe with the 6.0-liter, twin-turbo monster V-12 from the S65 AMG under the hood. Look quickly, because the CL will gladly disappear in a cloud of tire smoke, hitting 62 mph in 4.4 seconds and 124 mph 8.9 seconds later.

Mercedes' in-house performance brand AMG turns 40 this year, which is no feat for a tuning company. AMG, which wasn't always owned by Mercedes, made a name for itself not by merely shoehorning huge engines into little cars (which would have likely killed off their clientele in fiery crashes) but by improving braking and handling as well. This AMG-ed CL is no exception to that rule.

For starters, behind the forged, twenty-inch twin-spoke wheels are brakes of obscene proportions. The front rotors, at 15.3 inches in diameter, are bigger than the wheels on many cars, and are straddled by the world's first twin-sliding calipers. AMG says this design combines the advantages of floating caliper brake design (lower heat transfer to the brake fluid and smoother operation) with the stopping ability of a fixed caliper unit. The rear brakes - also enormous at 14.4" - have conventional sliding calipers.

The CL65 also has an AMG Sports Suspension, which uses Mercedes' Active Body Control to all but eliminate pitch, dive, and body roll.

Finally, no AMG model would be complete without aggressive visual modifications, and the CL looks sufficiently menacing. It has unique front and rear fascias with large air intakes and side vents, side skirts, and a rear diffuser that is flanked by twin, chromed tailpipes. The grille is exclusive to AMG, and the front end also features tinted bi-xenon lights and chrome-surrounded round fog lights.

Interior changes to the CL include AMG sports seats with massage function up front - and metal AMG badges on all four chairs, an AMG Ergonomic sports steering wheel, poplar wood trim, and stainless steel pedals.

At New York, Mercedes will also be debuting a 40th anniversary edition of the CL65 - to commemorate AMG's fortieth birthday, of course. Only forty Special Editions will be made, each with a numbered plaque on the center console. Designed by the AMG Performance Studio, these cars will be instantly recognizable by their exclusive paint.

The CL65 AMG 40th Anniversary Edition is the first production car to use AMG Alubeam paint, which is a paint that uses extraordinarily small pigment particles (one third to one tenth the size of regular paint) to give a luminous luster unlike other paints. Indeed the clear-coated finish is so smooth that the CL appeared to be glowing when we saw it at a preview in Geneva last month. We can't wait to see it in natural light.

This technology has been used before in show cars, and can be used with any color paint. Mercedes plans on using this as a trial run to finalize the Alubeam production process for other models. In the meantime, this water-based BASF paint is hand-applied to the CL65 at the Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen.

40th Anniversary Edition cars also feature a two-tone "Exclusive Passion" Nappa Leather interior with a diamond stitching pattern on the door panels and seats. The gorgeous interior is finished with a color-coordinated Alcantara headliner, "V12" logos on the headrests, and genuine carbon-fiber accents.

The twenty 40th Anniversary Edition cars destined for our side of the pond will go on sale in September on a first-come, first-served basis. Even at a sticker price in the neighborhood of $185,000, we expect them to sell out almost instantly.

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