World-class luxury and mind-altering performance, a rate combination of traits that few automakers are capable of bringing to the table. Mercedes-Benz is one such automaker and its latest creations, the AMG versions of the new 2011 CL-Class, certainly fit the bill.
Leading the charge is the 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG. Yes, we know. It didn't make sense to call it "63" when the engine actually displaced 6.2 liters and it makes even less sense now that it displaces only 5.5 liters. Still, there's a lot of cachet in the 63 moniker, so it stays. With this kind of performance, you really won't care anyway.
It may sound like we're talking about the 382-horspower 5.5-liter V-8 in the old CL550, but that isn't even close. This new mill straps on a pair of turbos that pump up to 14.5 psi of boost into the engine, creating up to 563 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. We say "up to" because that output is not only optional, but it will cost you extra. Mercedes won't yet say how much extra, but if you don't pop for the optional AMG Performance Package, your CL63 AMG will get only 536 horsepower and 590 pound-feet.
Opt for the less expensive model and you'll still hit 60 mph in a claimed 4.4 seconds on the way to a limited 155 mph top speed. Double down on the Performance Package and you'll get there a bit quicker, hitting 60 mph in a claimed 4.3 seconds on the way to a limited top speed of 186 mph. That's up to 0.3 seconds quicker than the claimed 0-to-60 mph time of the previous CL63 AMG and on par with the last CL65 AMG.
You also get better efficiency to go with all your extra performance. Integrating the turbochargers into the exhaust manifolds keeps lag down and increases efficiency to the point that Mercedes did away with the blow-off valve, relying instead on a vacuum-operated waste gate to manage pressure. "Pulsation holes" in the crank case even out air pressure to reduce pumping losses while variable cam timing can infinitely adjust both the intake and exhaust cams up to 40 degrees each for maximum performance or economy. A two-mode oil cooling system helps get the engine up to temperature quickly and catalytic converters integrated into the exhaust just after the turbos scrub the exhaust the instant it leaves the turbines.
The result is a claimed reduction in CO2 emission of 30 g per kilometer and 27-percent better fuel economy. Based on EPA numbers for the previous model, that equates to CO2 emissions of 1.14 pounds of CO2 per mile, down from 1.46 pounds per mile. More importantly to most consumers, that means fuel economy could be as high as 14 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, up from 11 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. All in all, not too bad for a car believed to weigh over 4700 pounds.
Helping that trick new engine out is Mercedes' tried-and-true seven-speed automatic transmission. While enthusiasts will appreciate its rev-matching on downshifts and refusal to upshift automatically while in "Manual" mode, the average owner will likely better appreciate the new Controlled Efficiency, or "C" mode. In C mode, the computer will soften accelerator response and start the car in second gear to minimize fuel burn. In fact, drive it gently enough and you'll be in sixth gear by 37 mph with the computer relying on the engine's massive torque to keep things smooth. What's more, C mode also automatically enables a new Stop/Start function that will turn off the engine while at a stop, so long as the engine temperature, battery charge and your interior climate settings are all where they're supposed to be. As soon as you take your foot off the brake, the engine will fire back up. Sport and Manual mode both deactivate the feature, and it can be switched off in C mode as well. Combined with an alternator that only charges on overrun and braking and you've just squeezed a bit more efficiency out of your car.
The CL65 AMG's updates aren't quite as involved. The massive 6.0-liter V-12 gets a new set of turbos that now crank out up to 22 psi of boost, ramping up the power from 604 horsepower in the last model to 621 horsepower in the new car. Torque is still limited to 738 pound-feet even though the engine is capable of producing 885 pound-feet, which is simply too much for the drivetrain to handle. In fact, the CL65 AMG must continue to make-do with Mercedes' Speedshift five-speed automatic transmission because the seven-speed dual-clutch box can't handle the power.
Those 17 extra ponies are good for an extra 0.3 seconds in the sprint to 60 mph, running it in a claimed 4.2 seconds before topping out at a limited 186 mph. Refinement in the engine and tricks like the alternator that only charges on overrun and braking help the CL65 AMG increase its fuel economy an unspecified amount while dropping CO2 emissions by 3.5 percent.
Both cars get the full bag of tricks from the new CL-Class. That means Direct Steer, a lighter, more direct steering system, Torque Vectoring Brake, which can brake the inside rear wheel to kill understeer, and Automatic Crosswind Stabilization are all standard. The AMG cars also pick up the CL-Class' Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Night View and Drowsiness Detection systems along with Active Body Control.
To make them more sprightly than the standard CL-Class, the AMG cars also get a sport-tuned suspension that will stiffen even further in Sport mode and even lower the car 0.6 inches between 40 and 62 mph to improve aerodynamics. Throw in up-sized 15.4-inch front and 14.4-inch rear brake discs behind AMG wheels specific to each model and you've got yourself a serious grand tourer.
The revision above the hood is equally muted. Both cars receive the CL-Class' latest styling, which pulls all of the body's curves into tauter, straighter lines for a more aggressive look. Both AMG models get slightly revised front and rear fascias with the top-dog CL65 AMG being distinguished by chrome accents on the front splitter and rear diffuser. The update also includes new LED daytime running lights, new taillights, the appropriate "V8 BiTurbo" and "V12 BiTurbo" badging and an AMG performance exhaust with unique chrome tips.
Inside the cars, each is updated with leather AMG sport seats that are both heated and ventilated. Also on the build sheet is a leather-wrapped AMG steering wheel and a Racetimer function for recording lap times. To distinguish the top-shelf CL65 AMG, it also gets exclusive wood trim and diamond-patterned top-quality leather on the seats, doors and more.
Mercedes-Benz hasn't announced pricing on the new models yet, but a modest increase is expected. We'd estimate a CL63 AMG coming in around $150,000 to start and the CL65 AMG running about $215,000 before options. In addition to the precious few options packages, Mercedes' Designo customization feature will upgrade the car in just about any way you're willing to pay for. Expect to see the new CL AMG cars on showroom floors in November.