New For 2014
The CL is based on the outgoing S-Class. With a new S-Class now on sale, a redesigned CL will be coming shortly (although it may lose its CL designation and be called simply the S-Class coupe). For this generation’s final year, the CL is largely unchanged, although the P02 premium package (comprising a rearview camera, active multicontour seats with massage, and Night View Assist Plus) is now standard on the CL550 and the CLS63 AMG.
Only Mercedes-Benz makes a two-door version of its big luxury sedan. That puts this grandly proportioned coupe in something of a class of its own. The CL is an indulgent purchase, with prices that start north of $100,000 and can reach almost double that. There are four CL models: an eight-cylinder CL550, a twelve-cylinder CL600, and two specially tuned, higher-performance AMG models, the V-8 CL63 AMG and the V-12 CL65 AMG.
The big, two-door versions of the S-Class — called the CL-Class in recent years — have long been a preferred personal conveyance of industry captains. The large Benz coupe strikes a more mature, old-money pose than a high-end SL or SLS, and its genuinely usable back seat allows one to bring along a kid or two (adults can fit but likely won’t be excited about climbing back there). Equipment mirrors that of the S-Class, or at least it did until the new S-Class made its debut; now the CL is one model cycle behind.
The eight-cylinder cars, the CL550 and the CL63, makes the most sense here. The ultra-exclusive and ultra-expensive CL600 and CL65 AMG V-12 versions are only for those who aren’t happy unless they’ve spent the very most they can. In addition to being the most reasonably priced variant, the CL550 4Matic is the only one that comes with all-wheel drive (it’s standard). The CL550’s 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 smoothly unleashes 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, whisking this big sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds—perfect for the impatient executive on the move. A long-travel throttle and skillful mapping allow for precise meting out of all that power; the CL is a fast car that is easy to drive smoothly.
The CL63 AMG, of course, is even faster, but its overall character isn’t tremendously different from that of the standard CL — it’s just a bit more extroverted. The CL63’s hand-built V-8 is tuned to deliver 536 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, which doesn’t make a huge difference in 0-to-60-mph times (4.4 seconds) but does provide even more robust mid-level punch for quickly dispensing with slower traffic in passing zones. (An available performance package bumps the output up to 563 hp and 664 lb-ft.) The AMG V-8 also has a surprisingly sharp exhaust bark that is quite unexpected in a car like this. Amusingly, the CL63 also has auto stop/start, which shuts down the engine at stoplights to save a bit of fuel. Although the system is actually quite smooth, drivers may want to switch it off, as fuel economy is not likely to be a major concern of the CL owner — the CL63, for instance, is EPA rated at 15/22 mpg.
- Big luxury
- Big power
- Big presence
You won’t like:
- Big price
- Big thirst (V-12s particularly)
- About to be replaced
- Bentley Continental GT
- BMW M6
- Maserati GranCoupe