I know the old adage of there being "no replacement for displacement," but having driven both the CL 63 AMG and the CL550 4Matic, I think I actually prefer the less-powerful version.
Why? Well, for one thing, it's actually possible to apply the 5.5-liter V-8's power to dry ground without setting the ESP into an epileptic frenzy. That's not to say the car wants for power; 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque are more than respectable numbers, and they do quite a good job of hustling the 4650-lb coupe around.
But I also have to give props to the 4Matic system. As Joe mentioned, it's more than capable of clawing its way through inclement weather (a good thing, as the roads by me were snowed over and unplowed this morning), but it's presence is virtually unknown by the driver - the car doesn't seem bogged down by two extra driven wheels, and handling still feels sharp and rear-biased.
Aside from the drop in power, you do lose some of the insane go-fast parts and suede-trimmed interior parts included with the AMG models, but the CL550's sumptuous saddle-on-black leather-trimmed cabin wowed every passenger who crawled inside. It may not be the fastest CL on the autobahn, but the everyday usability of this car - particularly for those in areas that receive regular precipitation of any kind - makes up for the disparity in power.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer