GT CRUISER!

BENT-EIGHT BRUTE IN A THREE-PIECE SUIT

Unique Cars - - TOYBOX -

LET’S SAY you’re in the mar­ket for a large, op­u­lent, two-door grand tourer that can still set your trousers on fire, when the mood takes you.

What ex­actly do you buy? Well, chances are if you’re in the mar­ket for a car with the afore­men­tioned cri­te­ria, you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready looked at the Mercedes AMG S63 Coupe.

Long, sleek, el­e­gant, lux­u­ri­ous and about as pow­er­ful as a small coun­try thanks to a her­culean 5.5lt twin-turbo V8 that churns out 463kW and 1000Nm – Af­fal­ter­bach’s finest truly does fit the bill of a grand tourer that packs one hell-of-a punch.

But here’s a ques­tion for you: what if you want all the things that the S63 Coupe has to of­fer, but you don’t have the $400,000-plus needed to park one in your drive­way?

If you’d asked me a cou­ple of weeks ago, I could only have spec­u­lated as to what the an­swer to that hy­po­thet­i­cal may’ve been, but now I can say with a fair amount of cer­tainty that the car for you is the Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG Coupe.

Iron­i­cally, the CL63 AMG is ac­tu­ally the S63 AMG Coupe’s di­rect pre­de­ces­sor, so why the name change? Well, your guess is a good as mine, but I’d bet there was a meet­ing at Mercedes HQ with a bunch of peo­ple from the mar­ket­ing depart­ment in at­ten­dance, and words like ‘syn­ergy’ and ‘stream­lined’ were bandied about, and the net re­sult was the S63.

Any­way, the CL63, like it’s suc­ces­sor, still has a thump­ing V8 hid­den un­der its svelte bon­net, but, un­like the S63, the CL’s donk is, if any­thing, even bet­ter.

That’s be­cause it’s the ven­er­a­ble, hand-built, M156 6.2lt V8, a true leg­end of the atmo-V8 world and per­haps one of the best pro­duc­tion en­gines ever made.

How does it feel to have at­mo­spheric en­gine roy­alty un­der your right foot? In a word – awe­some!

It is such a leviathan of a power plant, and it’s both lin­ear and manic at once, hurtling you for­wards from pretty much no revs and then bel­low­ing all the way to its 7000rpm red­line.

That old adage ‘There’s no re­place­ment for dis­place­ment’ could not be truer when it comes to the M156, and be­cause it’s nat­u­rally as­pi­rated, throt­tle re­sponse is im­me­di­ate, and the per­for­mance is re­lent­less. It also per­fectly suits the char­ac­ter of the CL63, mostly due to the masses of torque which makes mov­ing a two-tonne car feel ef­fort­less.

Ac­tu­ally, the per­for­mance fig­ures are prop­erly im­pres­sive, and de­spite weigh­ing a whop­ping 2085kg, the CL will pro­pel it­self from 0 to 100km/h in a blis­ter­ing 4.6 sec­onds, be­fore con­tin­u­ing on to a fac­tory-lim­ited top speed of 250km/h.

Mated to the beastly V8 is seven-speed au­to­matic ‘box that is a com­bi­na­tion of good, and an­noy­ing.

You see, left to its own de­vices, the seven-speeder per­forms ad­mirably, and it shifts re­ally in­tu­itively, mak­ing saun­ter­ing around town a true plea­sure.

Once you’re out on your favourite twisty road and you de­cide to op­er­ate the gear­box man­u­ally with the cars pad­dle shifters, how­ever, it’s not quite as sharp. There’s a bit of a de­lay be­tween com­mand and re­sponse.

“THERE’S NO RE­PLACE­MENT FOR DIS­PLACE­MENT”

But for the most part, this re­ally isn’t that much of a bother, be­cause its not an out-and-out sports car, and I reckon most own­ers would have very rarely used ‘man­ual mode’.

The ride and han­dling of the CL are a high­light. It is truly ad­mirable that a car with pro­por­tions so gar­gan­tuan, can still han­dle the bends with such com­pe­tency and com­po­sure; it re­ally be­lies its weight that well.

This is mostly down to the CL’s trick adap­tive dampers, which can ad­just them­selves in mil­lisec­onds to dif­fer­ing road con­di­tions and sur­faces, en­sur­ing a com­pli­ant and com­fort­able ride.

The han­dling is also greatly aided by hy­draulic servo cylin­ders, lo­cated at both the front and rear axle, that greatly help to re­duce pitch and roll while cor­ner­ing.

In­side the cabin of the CL63, things are just about what you’d ex­pect for a car that was near-as-makes-no-dif­fer­ence wore a $400K price-tag when new.

It gen­uinely feels like the Star­ship En­ter­prise has pro­cre­ated with cowhide; ev­ery­thing is cov­ered in beau­ti­ful, waxy leather and there are but­tons ev­ery­where.

It’s the same story for the seats; they seem al­most in­fin­itely ad­justable and can mas­sage you as well as heat or cool your bum, de­pend­ing on your mood.

It’s also worth men­tion­ing that this decade-old car has a host of safety gear that most other cars on the road are just start­ing to get now.

Things like radar-guided cruise con­trol, emer­gency brake as­sist, 10 airbags, ac­tive cor­ner­ing head­lights and tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing are all present and ac­counted for.

I think that the CL63 can def­i­nitely hold it’s own against its younger sib­ling, the S63, and it’s re­mark­able that you can get this level or per­for­mance and lux­ury for less than $80,000.

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