With the arrival of the 2011 CL-class, Mercedes-Benz has the opportunity to show off its latest advancements in powertrain, luxury, and safety, all wrapped in a two-door package. The big news for Mercedes' freshened coupe is under the hood of the CL550 4Matic, with the introduction of a new 4.6-liter V-8 producing 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The 4.6-liter engine is more powerful and more efficient than the 5.5-liter V-8 it replaces, and joins the CL600's esteemed, though aging, 5.5-liter V-12 that produces 510 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes claims the new twin-turbo, direct injection V-8 delivers 10 to 15 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V-8, which, for now, will continue to power its stablemates across the Mercedes line. All CL550s will continue to come standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, since there is no fuel economy penalty for the 4Matic's extra weight of roughly 150 pounds.
An AMG-tuned CL63 evokes Mercedes' storied 6.3-liter V-8 that helped launch AMG as a brand, but in name only. A more efficient 5.5-liter V-8 displaces the outgoing 6.2 (which was also badged as a "6.3" on the car), producing 536 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque over the wide range of 2100-4600 rpm. The M157 twin-turbo engine is mated to a wet-clutch, seven-speed automatic like the one offered in the SL63 AMG, and avoids the costly gas guzzler tax. In AMG tradition, the hand-crafted engine is still signed by the individual who built it. As for the monstrous CL65, its twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 will now produce 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque and still sends its power to the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission.
As you might expect, the CL champions most of Mercedes' latest technological achievements. With this round of updates, the word is "active." Optional on the CL550, and standard on the CL600, are Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane-Keeping Assist. Should a driver ignore the red warning on the exterior mirrors, the blind spot assist intervenes to keep the driver from veering off into harm's way. A gentle shake of the steering wheel works with ESP-aided countersteering to assist the driver in keeping within his lane. All new CL models come standard with Attention Assist, which alerts drowsy drivers, and a Torque Vectoring Brake, an active safety feature that works to slow the inside rear-wheel in a corner for more precise handling.
The 2011 model year also marks the CL's first substantial cosmetic update since its debut in 2007. Aside from mildly revised taillights, a new V-shaped grille defined by thinner chrome strips and an even larger three-pointed star, the exterior receives few enhancements. Restyled headlights with integrated LED turn signals flank the sides of the revised grille, and LED driving lights are set off by a chrome strip on the CL's bumper. Adaptive Highbeam Assist, which automatically lowers high beams when oncoming traffic advances, is now standard. Two sport packages, composed of restyled bumpers and side skirts and a choice of 19- or 20-inch AMG wheels, round out exterior options for the CL550.
There aren't many changes needed in the already sumptuous interior. Four grains of wood and four leather combinations line the cabin, accented by a new wood and leather steering wheel. Optional across the line is Splitview for Mercedes' Comand infotainment system, which uses magic -- er, image filtering technology -- to allow the driver and front passenger to concurrently see different images on the screen.
Pricing has not been officially announced ahead of the CL's debut this weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. Look for the revised CL coupe at dealerships this November.