2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

The CLS is a much better match for the 6.2-liter AMG V-8 than the S-class. I was expecting the CLS to feel a bit awkward with this engine since it seems to be nearly as large as an S-class, but I was pleasantly surprised. The CLS is even better suited to this particular engine than the CL coupe, which was another surprise. The tip in is a little funky, but once you're on the road this V-8 sounds great and packs plenty of punch.

Distronic is always nice when you're following a driver who doesn't like to hold a consistent speed, though I wish the distance control switch were located on the cruise control stalk. It's not intuitive to look down next to the shifter to control how closely you follow a car. I used the system at night and I didn't find the distance control until this morning when it was light. Aside from this ergonomic niggle, distronic is my favorite of the active cruise control systems and the only one I really trust to slow my car down safely and consistently if the car in front of me hits the brakes.

I suppose the main selling point on this car is the styling. The CLS started the four-door coupe segment and has spawned many imitators. A design that once stood out from everything else on the road now has several competitors and even the 2009 Mazda6 has a similar shape to this Mercedes. I wonder how the market will respond to these new imitators and what that does to image-conscious Mercedes buyers. The next CLS needs to be as revolutionary as the 2004 CLS was.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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