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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.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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