First Look: 2012 Mercedes Benz CLS63 AMG

Mercedes gave up building mere automobiles a long time ago. The current obsession is building ground-bound rolling rockets like their latest offering, the 2012 CLS63 AMG. Not only does it have the thrust to reach orbit but also the looks to impress any advanced civilization.

The original CLS defined the modern 4-door coupe concept with its release in 2004. The 2012 CLS63 sharpens the aesthetics but looks to be more of an evolution of the same design with most of the improvements being seen under the skin. The design team at AMG focused on efficiency as much as performance improvement, but when we are talking about Mercedes, more power always seems to creep in. The CLS63, which was powered by an almost appropriately sized 6.2-liter V8 is now powered by a completely non sequitur 5.5-liter direct injection twin turbo V8. The M157 engine is actually 33 percent more fuel efficient than the previous unit while producing an extra 43 hp and 85 pound-feet of torque bringing numbers up to 550 hp and 590 pound-feet with the optional Performance Package. With those kinds of numbers they can call it the CLSuzan and no one would care.

Leaning away from the industry trend of dual-clutch transmissions, AMG has chosen the Speedshift MCT 7-speed unit first used on the SL63. It replaces a traditional torque convertor with an electronically controlled wet-clutch. The transmission has four modes of operation; sport, sport+, manual and Controlled efficiency. In Sport+, Race Start function provides launch control and Controlled Efficiency employees a start/stop function to increase fuel mileage.

The CLS63's suspension has been updated to match the new power output as well. The steering system now utilizes a variable assist feature that not only increases steering response and comfort but also increases efficiency by only operating at the level currently needed. Adjustable ride height and variable damping allow the driver to select from Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes at the touch of a button. All of these options add up to a car that can be tailored to individual driver's tastes and the needs at hand.

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