CL-Class just clicks
Awesome cars . . . shame about the price though, writes Stuart Martin
BROAD, bold, brash and brutal — the sledgehammer CL-Class has arrived packing twin-turbos across the range. The Mercedes-Benz supercoupe’s new powerplants should do nothing to diminish the CL’s position as the model with the strongest customer loyalty.
THE CL 500 starts from $337,000 and the CL 600 V12 will be priced from $ 425,600. The high-performance AMG CL 63 will start from $423,300 — a $6000 rise — and the CL 65 AMG will carry a hefty $519,250 price tag, $2000 more.
There’s not much lacking from the features list — including active front seats, surround system and active suspension — but it’s still a mindboggling price range.
THE CL has introduced many of the brand’s newest technology and this model is no exception.
The CL500 introduces the active lane assist and blind spot assist systems, another string to the bow of the stability control program.
The active lane assist uses a windscreen-mounted camera to keep an eye on the road markings and the driver’s movements behind the wheel, delivering a vibration warning through the wheel and an image on the screen as it brakes a rear wheel to tuck the nose back into the proper line.
The same sub-section of the stability control system is also involved in the brake torque vectoring system, which aims to control understeer by braking a single rear wheel if the driver gets too deep too fast.
We’ve seen the blind spot system before — a car in the blindspot prompts a little red triangle to light up in the mirror — but the new bit uses the lane assist system’s features to detect an impending lane change (using the indicator activation) and warn the driver against it, using the single-wheel brake technique to further deter the lane change if necessary.
The clever active suspension system has been enhanced with a crosswind stabilisation system, which uses the suspension to change the body’s position to compensate for crosswinds.
The direct-steer variable gear ratio system alters the steering angle, aiding low-speed wheel work in car parks but keeping the steering direct at speed.
The new star is the twin-turbo V8, in the CL500’s case a 4.7-litre version, which produces 320kW (up 12 per cent) and 530Nm, a 32 per cent improvement and available from 1800rpm through to 3500rpm.
It now has direct injection and piezo injectors (capable of multiple fuel injections), which helps it achieve more torque than the current 6.2-litre naturally aspirated AMG V8, but with 20 per cent better fuel consumption than the old CL500 — 11.1 litres per 100km, a 20 per cent gain.
The CL 500 cracks the sprint to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, a half-second improvement over the outgoing car.
The AMG model gets the multiclutch seven-speed auto from the E63 and a capacity increase to 5.5-litres, upping power over the old AMG model by 4 per cent to 400kW.
The all-important torque figure is up 27 per cent to 800Nm (from 2000 to 4500rpm), enabling the two-tonneplus coupe to match the smaller and lighter C63’s sprint to 100km/h of 4.5 seconds, but the more surprising figure is 10.6 litres per 100km.
THE beefy four-seater coupe version of the S-Class has been given a makeover that takes little away from what was already a muscular, power- ful aesthetic. The nose has been given a redesigned bonnet, modelspecific radiator grilles ( with an AMG one-bar grille) and updated bixenon headlights.
The front and rear bumpers have been given a new look, assisted by LED running lights and extra air intakes. The rear brake lights are now solid red and the reversing lamps are mounted near the number plate.
The interior remains opulent and extremely comfortable — but largely is unchanged.
THE brutal and impressive CL has oodles of road presence and the drivetrains to match.
We drove the CL 500 and the 63 AMG, with different incarnations of the new V8.
The twin-turbo V8 engine in the CL500 is immediately impressive, with a quiet, refined part-throttle manner that dribbles torque through the seven-speed auto for unfussed but far-from-tardy progress.
It suits the style of the car to travel in such a manner, with all the gearbox and suspension settings in Comfort mode.
But punch the right pedal and two tonnes of German super-coupe surge forward with a melodious tone.
The new steering set-up is welcome when turning 5m of Mercedes at low speed, without causing grief at higher speeds.
The AMG CL grumbles, burbles and screams when required, but it lacks the hard-case crackle of the naturally-aspirated AMG-built 6.2-litre V8 of the outgoing car.
It’s impressively ahead of that engine in all other aspects beyond the noise, though CL buyers might not want the petrolhead-magnet that is the AMG V8’s aural appeal.
Both cars coped reasonably well with the rutted, broken Victorian back-roads, though some buyers are likely to opt for the smaller wheel/tyre package for extra ride comfort.
Four adults and baggage are well accommodated. As a 191cm driver I could sit behind someone of similar size without feeling too cramped.
The lane-assist system is subtle in using the brake to pull the nose into line — the Benz people say they’d rather use the brakes instead of interfering in the steering, preferring to leave the driver in charge.
AS A technological tour de force, the CL shows off some new, worthwhile systems and its new blown V8 offers genuine force and impressive fuel use.
It’s a dream drive, but for most has a nightmare price.
On its own: the new MercedesBenz CL-Class goes forth, where few can afford . . .