Objectively, the price of any CL is insane given how much less expensive a mechanically identical S-class is, but the point of these coupes is exclusivity and CL shoppers are well past the point of a logical purchase. To go along with that, the CL550, CL600, CL63 AMG, and CL65 AMG are essentially splitting hairs in terms of performance differences, but Mercedes claims there are very specific buyers for each model. The truth is any of these coupes is a revelation to experience the first time.
Though AMG has significantly changed its engine philosophy over the past several years (from superchargers to normal aspiration to turbos today) the delivery of unbelievable thrust has remained a constant. I will never tire of flooring an AMG product on an empty road. I don’t even mind coming across a stray vehicle or three on two-lane roads when I’m in an AMG Benz because passing someone gives me a reason to boot the accelerator and listen to the V-8 rev. Every Mercedes that comes from the Affalterbach facility begs to be driven long distances at insanely high rates of speed. The only problem is that the roads in America have speed limits.
The CL is especially well suited to long distance cruising because it’s so big and confident. A lack of B-pillars affords the CL’s driver great visibility and there’s no penalty in terms of wind noise thanks to the laminated glass and abundance of sound deadening materials. You get all the luxury and prestige of an S-class in a slightly shorter package. I immediately start to think of weekend getaway destinations with a car like the Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
It’s pretty hard to find fault with a car whose 500-plus horsepower and almost 600 lb-ft of torque is wrapped in a package that speaks to your inner sybarite – so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll just say that driving the Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG makes me feel special. Yes, the ECO start/stop system is disconcerting. But you know what? I simply turned it off. Power delivery came back to normal (although “normal” in the CL63 is not the same as “normal” in most cars). I would be happy to drive this car every day. What else is there to say?
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Sumptuous interior and impeccable execution aside, AMG-tuned CL coupes always wow me with just how well they perform, especially when driven in anger. For a refresher, this is a 4600-pound car that measures in at nearly 201 inches in length, yet when the suspension is dialed into sport mode, it’s surprisingly agile, taut, and responsive. It makes as much sense as suggesting a freight locomotive is the ideal vehicle for tackling the Nordschleife, but somehow, the engineers at AMG are able to bend the laws of physics in their favor.
The CL63’s acceleration is also nothing short of incredible, although this year, it’s produced by way of an all-new engine. In lieu of the old 6.2-liter, AMG now packs the 63-series forms of its S- and CL-Class models with a 536-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8. Let the purists cry over the disparity between displacement and nomenclature, I was far too busy listening to the lusty grunt of an exhaust note (now accented with a faint hint of turbo whine), ripping through the seven speeds of the new wet-clutch automatic transmission, and watching the speedometer’s needle quickly sweep towards triple-digit territory. Much as I love the old adage that there’s no replacement for displacement, the new twin-turbo 5.5-liter is a fine substitute for the old engine, and few buyers will ever miss the lost seven-tenths of a liter when behind the wheel.
They may appreciate it, in fact, when it comes time to refuel. The decrease in engine size is largely in response to mandates issued around the world for automakers to increase fuel economy and decrease CO2 emissions. To that end, Mercedes has seen fit to give the CL 63 an automatic stop/start system, which operates when the transmission is set to its comfort mode. Such a system may seem out of place for a car designed to quickly eat up long stretches of the Autobahn, but is actually logical, considering a substantial number of these cars will no doubt spend much of their time slogging through urban gridlock. Fuel economy rises from 11/18 mpg (city/highway) to 15/21, although if you can afford an AMG-tuned CL to begin with, chances are the cost of filling the 23.8-gallon tank with premium isn’t much of a concern.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
The CL63 has a great, throaty, rumbly exhaust note on start-up. I pulled out of the parking structure and to the first intersection. The engine went dead. Oh, there’s a big green ECO light below the transmission indicator in the main instrument binnacle. An AMG car with stop/start! What a concept. I shouldn’t be surprised; In July 2007 I was in Frankfurt, Germany, with Mercedes-Benz to drive its McLaren SLR roadster. Ironically, Mercedes also had us participate in a fuel-economy seminar, and I remember their engineers advising us that if a car is running for more than 12 seconds while sitting, it’s best to turn it off.
I also have no issues with the twin-turbo V-8, which provides tremendous acceleration; I quickly got to 120 mph on a freeway connector road where I have just enough space to get to 105-110 mph in most cars. I like the light-filled, beautifully executed interior, and the lack of a B-pillar in the side glass. If you want a big, luxurious, grand touring Mercedes coupe, there’s lots to love here.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Like Joe, I had a moment of confusion when the engine shut down while I was sitting at my first traffic light. Once I realized what had happened, my confusion turned to surprise. Not because I was driving a 536-hp Mercedes-Benz AMG that shuts down its 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 at idle to save gas, but because the restart is so un-Mercedes like. It can be felt and heard — not a critical flaw but far more noticeable here than in others I’ve driven — but for me the real disconcerting element was the 2-3 second pause between toeing the throttle and forward motion. For those who spend significant amounts of time driving around town, the delayed engine start-up could become a serious nuisance. Fortunately, for these instances the system can be manually turned off while in comfort mode, and is automatically deactivated when in sport or manual mode.
Of course, after bombing down an entrance ramp, throttle flattened as I made the curve, I completely forgot about the stop/start system and, well, just about everything else. The engine is truly intoxicating, and it’s hard to believe that a vehicle this enormous and heavy can feel so nimble and stable, and be so utterly effortless to drive at triple digit speeds. And, while it may not be considered beautiful by all, the CL63 looks muscular and confident and the lack of a B-pillar goes a long way in reducing the vehicle’s visual mass. I could definitely do without the dinner-plate-sized Mercedes-Benz star on the grille, though.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
2011 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG
Base price (with destination & guzzler tax): $152,125
Price as tested: $157,985
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine
7-speed automatic transmission
AMG active body control suspension
4-wheel cross-drilled disc brakes with ABS
AMG sport styling
Comand 40 GB hard drive navigation system
11-speaker Harman/kardon Logic7 surround sound
HD digital radio
In-dash 6-disc DVD/CD changer
Sirius satellite radio
8-inch Comand display
Power tilt/sliding sunroof
Bi-Xenon headlamps with active curve illumination
AMG premium leather interior
AMG performance steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles
Heated and ventilated front seats
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
Driver assistance package — $2950
Adaptive cruise control
Active blind spot assist
Active lane keeping assist
Premium package — $2200
Night vision assist with pedestrian detection
Splitview entertainment system — $710
Key options not on vehicle:
AMG performance package — $7300
Top speed is raised to 186 mph
Increase in total power: 27 hp & 74 lb-ft
Carbon fiber engine cover
AMG illuminated doorsills — $1000
15 / 21 / 17 mpg
5.5L twin-turbocharged V-8
Horsepower: 536 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 2000-4500 rpm
Curb weight: 4599 lb
Wheels/tires: 20-inch light-alloy wheels
255/35R20 Continental ContiProContact high performance tires
What’s new? The twin-turbocharged 5.5L V-8; It replaces the 6.2L (63) engine.