The Mercedes-Benz CL is a supercoupe. It offers super handling, super acceleration, and super luxury all in one package. The CL’s unique pillarless side glass gives an uninterrupted look into an exquisite interior. The front seats are both heated and ventilated and offer massage capability, while the sport seats in the AMG models feature active side bolsters that enlarge when the car is turning to enhance lateral support. By our measure, the entry-model CL550 is only for those who will drive their CL year-round in snowy climes–it is the only CL model with all-wheel drive. The CL we’d own is the eight-cylinder CL63 AMG from Mercedes’ performance division. Last year, AMG’s signature 6.2-liter V-8 was replaced by a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 good for 536 hp. Opt for the AMG performance package, though, and power rises to 563 hp as torque jumps 74 lb-ft to a total of 664 lb-ft. The output boost is enough for the CL63 to match the 0-to-60-mph time of the CL65 AMG at 4.3 seconds. For customers who demand the ultimate in prestige, Mercedes offers not one but two smooth-spinning V-12 engines. It’s worth noting that a top-spec CL sits in Bentley and Maserati territory when it comes to price, but we can’t think of a compelling argument to choose either of those cars over the Merc. The CL’s handling is remarkable, especially given its size–and even the base V-8 engine is powerful enough for the CL to keep up with sports cars on winding back roads.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel

Trim levels: CL550 4Matic, CL600, CL63 AMG, CL65 AMG

Body style: Coupe, 4-passenger

Engines: 4.6L twin-turbo V-8, 429 hp, 516 lb-ft

5.5L twin-turbo V-8, 536/563 hp, 590/664 lb-ft

5.5L twin-turbo V-12, 510 hp, 612 lb-ft

6.0L twin-turbo V-12, 621 hp, 738 lb-ft

Transmissions: 5- or 7-speed automatic

Passenger volume: 104.2 cu ft

Cargo space: 13.5 cu ft

For 2011, the CL’s performance was improved with two new turbocharged V-8 engines and modest power increases for the two V-12 engines. All models received a face-lift with more muscular lines. The CL-class is unchanged for the 2012 model year.

ABS; front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; traction and stability control; tire-pressure monitoring; parking sensors; and a drowsiness monitor are standard. Optional equipment includes adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation, night vision that highlights pedestrians, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist.

All: 12-16 mpg city/18-24 mpg highway

  • Timeless and elegant style
  • Sporty big coupe
  • Safety systems galore
  • Smallish rear seats
  • Looks don’t match price tag
  • Excellent V-8s make V-12s superfluous

Big car, big performance, big bucks.

  • Aston Martin DB9
  • Bentley Continental GT
  • BMW 6-series
  • Maserati GranTurismo

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