How much is this car, anyway? Never mind, I don't care: I want one. Much more so than the S63 AMG sedan we had a couple of weeks ago, the sleek and purposeful CL coupe seems like the perfect repository for Mercedes-Benz's 518-hp, 6.2-liter, AMG-tuned and -built, superstar V-8 engine. Maybe it's because, at 42, I'm easing into middle age (as much as I hate to admit it), but I prefer a powerful, sybaritic luxury coupe to a pure sports car most of the time. I want power and torque on demand, and I want to access it by burying the throttle, not by fiddling with shift paddles or gear levers. Call me lazy, if you will; I call myself contented. (For the record, the CL does offer manual controls for the seven-speed automatic; they're mounted behind the steering wheel.)
It's not like I'm looking for a plush-o-matic experience, folks. Wheeling the CL63 AMG from the sixth floor of our parking structure last night, I noted with satisfaction its ability to whip itself around the concrete poles with calm and aplomb, with not a whiff of tire squeal or body roll. With 518 hp (at 6800 rpm!) and 465 lb-ft of torque on call, you can launch yourself across the entire city of Ann Arbor in no time, or at least to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz. When the dreaded Ann Arbor Police come into view, front brake discs that are 15.4 inches in diameter and a hefty 1.4 inches thick will scrub off speed more quickly than you can say "Mercedes-Benz see-sixty-three eh-em-gee." (If any members of the Ann Arbor Police are reading this, rest assured, this is hyperbole; I don't actually speed within the city limits.)
So, other than the engine, why do I like this car? I like its size, the grand sweep of the sheetmetal, the utter excess of it. This is a grand touring coupe with a grandly luxurious air and an unapologetic attitude. Yes, it gets only 11 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. But there aren't too many CL63 AMG coupes running on the world's roads, now are there?
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG had a University of Michigan undergraduate leaping with excitement when he encountered our test car parked at a meter along State Street here in Ann Arbor yesterday evening. Running his fingers along the AMG badge on the trunk lid, he exclaimed to his companion, "Dude! This car isn't even on sale yet! It's a 2009 model!"
Well, that's not exactly true; the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG is on sale now. And it can be yours for the princely sum of $138,375.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I lucked out and had the CL63 for a long weekend, which ended up giving me lots of time behind the wheel. I spent most of Sunday and Monday behind the wheel and found very little I didn't like. All of my passengers loved the CL, particularly those lucky enough to experience the massaging front seat. Most of them had no clue car seats had become so advanced.
It was a bit difficult to fit four adults in the car. I think the shortest person was somewhere about 5'8" and the rest of the group fell between 6' and 6'3". It wasn't impossible for the four of us to squeeze in the car, but the ingress and egress for the people stuck in the back seat was a bit difficult. Too bad there was no massaging seat to reward them for the effort. I can't think of a coupe that would be more comfortable for four adults though, so I can't fault the CL here.
The 6.2-liter V-8 feels just right in this coupe. A time or two I wanted the ludicrous torque of the CL600 or CL65, but that's certainly not needed. I found it a little easier to keep the CL63 at legal speeds than the CL600 I drove about this time last year. The seven-speed transmission is, of course, standard in this CL, but it doesn't feel as sporty as it does in other applications. The C63 AMG has much more aggressive transmission programming, which might make the CL more entertaining if you decide to push it hard. That's missing the point though. The CL is a great cruiser and does best running down long stretches of wide open roads.
I was disappointed that the Bluetooth system in this car didn't want to connect to my Blackberry. I've had great success with my phone and other Bluetooth-equipped Benzes this year, but no dice this time. If I'm throwing down $138,000 imaginary dollars, I want the Bluetooth to actually work.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
What a difference two doors make. Whereas the S63 seems huge, unwieldy, and an inappropriate vessel for the AMG 6.2-liter V-8, this CL63 somehow feels like it's gliding down the highway with a purpose. (Yes, I know it's just a big S-class-based coupe - it's all in my head.)
One way the CL makes huge appear simply large is its pillarless side profile. With all four windows down the car looks absolutely stunning, and it's an engineering marvel that so much open space can go unsupported. An S-class with windows down just can't match the presence of the CL.
Would I want one? Maybe if I had a lot of highway driving to do with a companion, but I'd still prefer a C63 if choosing among AMG 63 cars. And at this price, I could almost get three C63s for the CL, so that makes the decision even easier. I prefer the transmission programming and (loud) exhaust of the C, as they both suit the 6.3 V-8 much better. But I wouldn't turn a CL63 down.
David Gluckman, Web Producer
I know that the CL is basically a two-door S-class, but the 6.2-liter AMG V-8 seems much more appropriate here than in the S63 AMG. The overall package is nicely balanced but not as crazy ostentatious as a V-12-powered CL. I agree with Gluckman about the beauty of this car, but the cut-rate price of the smaller C63 is the only thing that would tempt me to choose it over this sexy beast. Truthfully, I love any car on the current S/CL platform, no matter what heat they're packing, but I think the CL63 is my favorite of this impressive bunch.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor