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2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Overview
Luxurious, well-heeled, powerful, and agile, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has what it takes to shout “success” from the driveway to the highway. This two-door luxury sports coupe takes its design cues from the S-Series sedans, while a few tweaks to the sheet metal and fascias, as well as a couple of new powerplants, distinguish various trims from last year’s versions. Meanwhile, the CL-Class is offered in four trim levels beginning with the base CL550 4Matic; then comes the CL63 AMG, the super-potent CL65 AMG, and, finally, the top-shelf CL600. The CL550 4Matic is delivered with full-time all-wheel drive (AWD), while all the others are rear-wheel drive (RWD) only. All trims in the CL-Class lineup feature turbocharged power, with engine size ranging from a 4.7-liter V8 to a 6.0-liter V12. The posh CL600 offers a semi-active suspension system to smooth the ride, while both AMG trims come with driver-adjustable sport-tuned suspensions for some extra pizzazz in handling twists and turns. The AMG designation, by the way, indicates the high-performance division within the Mercedes empire. Finally, a somewhat cramped rear seat is common to the luxury breed, though this is augmented in the CL-Class by a tolerably capacious 13.5 cubic feet of trunk space.
Competition in this upscale market comes in the form of the Jaguar XK lineup, the Porche Panamera, the BMW 6 Series, and the Maserati GranTurismo. The former offers a tad more styling panache, while the latter has traditionally been known for precision handling. None of these luxury autos comes cheap, though. For instance, an option-free base CL550 4Matic is the best bargain Mercedes-Benz can offer for the CL-Class at a tad over $113,100. The Beemer M6 is a bit cheaper, but may not carry the cachet, while the GranTourismo tops the CL-Class only in its Italian good looks.
Pure power separates the CL-Class from the also-rans. The AWD CL550 4Matic, for example, boasts the smallest engine of the lot, a 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that pounds out 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. These ponies are harnessed to a 7-speed auto-manual transmission featuring an integrated brake hill holder. Using variable valve timing (VVT), this hefty mill burns premium gas at a 15/22 mpg clip, while the AWD system is managed by a mechanical, center-mounted limited-slip differential. Moving up to the CL63 AMG gains drivers a direct-injected (DI) 5.5-liter V8, also turbocharged and with VVT. Again, the standard 7-speed auto-manual transmission manages this potent powerplant to achieve 536 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, with mileage estimated at 15/21, again burning premium gas.
The top-shelf CL600 sports a 510-hp, twin-turbo 5.5-liter V12 that uses its standard 5-speed auto-manual transmission to blast out 612 lb-ft of torque. This massive mill eats premium gas at 11/17 and, nope, there’s no VVT in this baby. Finally, there’s the 621-hp, 738-lb-ft/torque twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that blesses the CL65 AMG. Tweaked from last year’s version for an additional 17 horses, this huge V12 again uses a 5-speed auto-manual transmission and gets some 12/18 burning premium gasoline.
Of course when one shells out over $100,000 for an automobile, one expects a certain level of standard features, and the CL-Class doesn’t disappoint. The CL550 4Matic, though the base trim, nevertheless boasts such standard appearance features as 18-inch polished alloy wheels and a power glass sunroof. Inside, plush leather upholstery is standard and complemented by multi-level heated, power-adjustable front bucket seats, remote power door locks and windows, heated power mirrors, cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, dual-zone climate control, leather, alloy, and wood trim accents, and memory settings for three drivers. Standard techno-wizardry, meantime, includes a universal garage door opener, hard-drive-based navigation, Bluetooth hands-free communications technology, and Mercedes-Benz’s touted mbrace directions, road-side assistance, and communications services. Finally, entertainment is provided by a Harman Kardon premium audio system with 6-CD changer, 600 watts of power for the 11 speakers, satellite radio, 5.1 surround sound, a USB connection, and a memory slot for audio cards. The notched-up CL63 and CL65 AMG add standard 20-inch alloy wheels, a driver-selectable sport-tuned suspension, massage-function sport bucket seats up front, reverse-tilting outside mirrors, Sun Sensor lighting and climate control auto-adjustment, and 14 HK speakers with two subs. Finally, the flagship CL600 throws standard adaptive cruise control, a semi-active suspension, and a heated steering wheel into the mix.
Options are limited mainly to the more plebian CL550 4Matic, CL63 AMG, and the CL65 AMG, and include the heated steering wheel, 20-inch 10-spoke wheels, plug-and-play entertainment upgrades, and the Premium 2 Package with Night Vision Assist, massage-function front seats, navigation-integrated split-view DVD screen, and a rear-view camera.
Safety isn’t neglected in the CL-Class, given its standard four-wheel ABS, traction and stability control, 11-way airbag protection, and front head restraint whiplash protection. Additional standard safety features include turn-signal-integrated mirrors, mbrace collision, airbag deployment, and emergency service alerts, daytime running lights, front fog/driving lights, dusk-sensing headlights, remote anti-theft alarm, pre- and post-collision safety systems, HID headlights, and headlight washer/wipers. Optional safety equipment across the lineup includes the Driver Assist Package with Lane Keeping Alert and Blind Zone Warning Alert, as well as the Night View Assist/Pedestrian Detection system.
Owners who’re willing to shell out the kind of money the 2011 CL-Class demands are not about to demean themselves with comments on its performance, looks, or status. Let’s face it, this luxury coupe pretty much speaks for itself.
by Eric Tallberg
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