2007 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

Shamit Choksey

You would think the ultra-lavish Mercedes Benz CL600, with all its bells, whistles, and 612 lb-ft of torque, would be enough to satisfy your average guy with a mild God complex and a grossly oversized bankroll. But is it?

For those fiends of power and decadence whose hankerings measure off the charts, Mercedes-Benz outright denigrates its top-tier two-door coupe with the new, scary-fast CL65. And adding those three, magical letters--AMG--the big rear-drive coupe catapults itself into a land of stratospheric power.

Its heartblood is pumped via a colossal 6.0-liter, twin-turbo V-12 yielding 604 horsepower and a frightening 738 lb-ft of torque. Good luck to the asphalt under its wheels--much less the wheels themselves--when peak torque hits at 2000 rpm and doesn't show mercy until about 4000.

With that, Benz claims this 5000-lb behemoth thrusts itself from zero to sixty mph in 4.2 seconds, making the CL65 AMG the automotive equivalent of a Defensive Tackle with the speed of a Cornerback.

Naturally, you have to ask yourself: Should something this large be able to move this fast? Regardless of your answer, momentum such as this must be handled with the utmost respect. And for that respect, the CL65 will pay you back big time, starting with the low, guttural hum of churning pistons--a sign of things to come.

That's when we enter the freeway, where vast stretches can, if you choose, be covered in an unreasonably short measurement of time. Passing is like taking candy from a baby: stab the pedal with your right foot and you go from being a blur in someone's periphery to an ink dot on the horizon quicker than you can say "Aufrecht! Melcher! Grossaspach!"

In a flat out, unrestricted run, the CL65 is geared to reach a harrowing 212 mph. But that point remains moot as all AMGs, including this one, are electronically limited to 155 mph. All of this energy feeds to an older five-speed automatic instead of the CL's more familiar seven-speed transmission. The 65's enormous torque output renders the two additional gears, for the most part, needless.

But it was driving this CL on the twisty canyon roads north of Los Angeles that revealed an interesting dichotomy of form and function. What you have is an agile, sport-like ride with spot-on steering and virtually no body roll. In short, it handles like a $200,000 super coupe should, thanks primarily to a revised suspension consisting of firm AMG struts and Benz's Active Body Control.

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