CL-Class just clicks

Awe­some cars . . . shame about the price though, writes Stu­art Martin

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Whecearslguside. -

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.

Value

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.

Technology/safety

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.

De­sign

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.

Driv­ing

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.

Ver­dict

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 . . .

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