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2014 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Overview
Now in the final year of its third generation, the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class luxury coupe receives only minor updating for 2014. All CL-Class trims get a Premium 2 Package, which adds a rear-view camera, Night View Assist Plus and multi-contour front seats with massage to the standard equipment list. At the same time, Mercedes does away with the Grand Edition Package, which was added in 2013. Otherwise, the CL-Class cools its heels for 2014 as it awaits a fourth-generation makeover for 2015.
Although it's based on the automaker's flagship S-Class full-size sedan, the CL-Class rides on a shorter wheelbase of 116.3 inches, compared to 124.6 inches for the S-Class. At the same time, the CL-Class weighs slightly more at 4,894 pounds vs. 4,729 for the S-Class, due in part to a heavier roof, which was beefed up to compensate for the lack of a B-pillar on the coupe. The coupe and sedan share some of the same engines and interior design components, however. The CL-Class also receives a sportier exterior design and upgraded suspensions, resulting in a more spirited driving experience. All CL-Class coupes ride on a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform and seat 4 passengers in a well-equipped luxury-oriented cabin.
For 2014, Mercedes-Benz again offers the CL-Class in CL550 4MATIC, CL600, CL63 AMG and CL65 AMG trim levels, each with a different powerplant. At the entry-level position, the CL550 4MATIC continues to receive a 4.6-liter direct-injection bi-turbo V8, which generates 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 to 3,500 rpm. The V8 links to a 7-speed automatic transmission with closely spaced ratios for quick yet smooth acceleration. Paddle shifters enable manual shifting by the driver. The V8 drives the CL550 4MATIC from 0–60 in 4.8 seconds and posts fuel economy numbers of 15 mpg city/23 highway.
Stepping up a notch, the CL600 comes equipped with a 5.5-liter bi-turbo V12, which pumps out 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 to 3,500 rpm. It mates to a 5-speed automatic transmission specifically designed to handle the huge amounts of torque generated by the V12. It comes with a Touch Shift feature for manual shifting. The CL600 jumps out to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and posts fuel economy numbers of 12/18.
The two AMG trims receive handcrafted engines designed and built by AMG, the automaker's in-house performance-oriented tuner. The CL63 AMG gets an AMG 5.5-liter bi-turbo V8, which delivers 536 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 to 4,500 rpm. The V8 links to a 7-speed AMG SpeedShift MCT transmission with manual-shift and Sport modes, as well as a Controlled Efficient mode with an Eco stop/start function. The Sport mode reduces shift times by 30 percent for quicker acceleration, Mercedes notes. Working together, the engine and transmission push the CL63 AMG from 0–60 in 4.4 seconds and manage fuel economy numbers of 15/22. At the top of the lineup, the CL65 AMG retains its AMG 6.0-liter V12, which pumps out 621 hp and a whopping 738 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 to 4,000 rpm. It links to the same 7-speed AMG SpeedShift transmission and includes aluminum paddle shifters for manual shifting. It posts a 0–60 time of 4.2 seconds and fuel economy numbers of 12/18.
All CL-Class trims ride on sport-tuned suspensions with a variety of features and upgrades. The CL550 4Matic, for instance, comes standard with the automaker's 4Matic all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, as well as an Airmatic semi-active suspension with Sport and Comfort modes. The system automatically lowers the vehicle at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The Airmatic system incorporates adaptive damping, which adjusts spring rates at all 4 wheels in milliseconds for a comfortable yet agile ride. A 4-wheel multilink suspension, direct-steer system and torque brake vectoring system with perforated front brakes are also included.
The CL600 also receives the multilink suspension and torque brake vectoring, as well as an Active Body Control system with crosswind stabilization. It uses electronically controlled hydraulics to minimize roll, pitch, dive and squat, resulting in flat handling in even the fiercest road conditions. The CL63 AMG and CL65 AMG both get an AMG-calibrated Active Body Control, tuned for high-performance driving. The AMG trims also come equipped with torque brake vectoring, an AMG high-performance braking system and an AMG sport exhaust system.
Outside, the CL-Class displays a pillarless coupe profile, resulting in clean, uninterrupted lines with the windows down. The long hood, simple dual-slat grille, subtle wheel arches. tapering roofline and low stance all contribute to the CL-Class's clean yet sporty exterior design. HID headlights with Active Curve Illumination, LED daytime running lights, heated power side mirrors with power fold-in, an electronic trunk closer and LED taillights are among the standard exterior features. Owners can add sport body styling on the CL550 4Matic and CL600, which upgrades the exterior appearance with such features as a front air dam, sculpted lower side sills and a rear apron. The CL550 4Matic rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, while the CL600 gets 19-inch multispoke alloy wheels.
The AMG trims receive AMG body styling, which includes large mesh air intakes in the front apron, a gloss-black single-bar grille, wraparound LED daytime running lights, flared side sills and 4 trapezoidal exhaust tips in a black diffuser panel. The CL63 AMG rides on 20-inch alloy wheels, while the CL65 AMG gets forged 20-inch AMG wheels in Titanium Grey.
Inside, the CL-Class offers a comfortable, well-equipped cabin, though headroom can be tight for taller passengers, especially in the second row, due to the tapering roofline. However, passengers will find plenty of legroom. The multi-contour front seats are supportive and comfortable enough for longer trips, thanks in part to leather upholstery and 12-way power adjustment with memory settings. In addition, the front seats are heated and ventilated, and include a massage feature. Standard tech equipment includes a hard-drive navigation system, the automaker's COMAND controller system and a 600-watt, 15-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound audio system with HD radio, a 6-CD/DVD player, Bluetooth and SiriusXM satellite radio. Burl Walnut or Brown Poplar wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt/sliding sunroof and remote keyless entry are among the other standard features, while the AMG trims also include an AMG instrument cluster and brushed aluminum pedals.
All CL-Class trims come equipped with 9 airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, as well as electronic stability control and antilock brakes with brake assist. A standard Attention Assist system alerts the driver with visual and audio warnings if it detects drowsiness, while a new Night View Assist Plus system uses infrared beams to alert drivers if it detects pedestrians on dark roadways. Adaptive Highbeam Assist automatically varies the range of the headlights, dimming for oncoming traffic, while heated headlight washers remove dirt and grime from the headlights. In addition, a standard Pre-Safe system detects an imminent accident and adjusts the seatbelts, windows and sunroof for optimal passenger safety. A Parktronic parking guidance system, a rear-view camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers are among the other standard safety features.
Competitors to the CL-Class include the BMW 750i, the Lexus LS 460, the Audi A8, the Porsche Panamera, the Jaguar XJ and the Aston Martin DBS. While the CL-Class doesn't deliver the high-end performance of some of its competitors, it offers better fuel economy numbers than most vehicles in its class, as well as a comfortable ride and athletic handling, thanks to its air suspension system. It's also relatively easy to maneuver, with a tight turning radius, which makes it a good car for urban driving.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.