2011 Mercedes-Benz CL63
Remember the kid insult for a motorist sounding his horn? “You got a horn, now jack it up and build a car around it.”
Mercedes-Benz is involved in something similar, except it’s anything but an insult. It has two powerful new engines, one with an extra performance modification, that have striking new cars built around them.
The first is a 4.6-liter V8 that has direct fuel injection and twin turbochargers, called biturbo by Mercedes. It delivers 429 horsepower and 516 pounds-feet of torque, or twisting force. It can propel the 2011 CL550 4Matic all-wheel drive coupe to 60 miles an hour in 4.8 seconds, according to Mercedes test figures.The other is a hand-built 5.5-liter biturbo with 536 horsepower and 590 pounds-feet of torque. It is produced by AMG, the Mercedes-Benz ultra performance division, and powers the [2011 CL63 AMG coupe](http://www.carsoup.com/US-National/new-vehicles/make/Car-Truck/Nationwide/Mercedes-Benz/ "2011 CL63 AMG coupe") and the S63 AMG four-door sedan.
Linked to a multi-clutch seven-speed automated manual gearbox, the new engine can muscle a zero-to-60 time of 4.4 seconds, Mercedes says. The S63’s city-highway fuel consumption is 15/22 miles to the gallon.
Anticipating that that will not be enough for some buyers, the company also offers an AMG performance package that bumps the horsepower to 563 and the torque to 664 pounds-feet of torque. It costs $7,300 and knocks a whole tenth of a second off the zero-to-60 acceleration time. It is rated at 15/21 to the gallon.
Obviously, fuel economy doesn’t loom large with customers who will spend well into six figures for any of these cars. But there is an efficiency point to be made in this era of heightened attention to husbanding natural resources. That is, these new engines deliver unprecedented power with reduced fuel consumption. They are likely to make their way into an increasing number of Mercedes vehicles in the coming years.
All three of the vehicles driven for this review occupy the upper reaches of the Mercedes lineup. They are big performance/luxury motorcars and any one likely would easily entice buyers with fat checkbooks or terrific credit ratings. Yet the S63 manages to escape the federal government’s gas-guzzler tax.The focus here is on the CL63 AMG two-door coupe. It has a starting price of $152,125 and, with the performance package and other options, topped out at $169,545.
For that, you get a big hardtop coupe with no pillars between the front and rear side windows—just like on the huge American luxury hardtops of the 1960s and 1970s.
Back then, the idea of the pillar-less hardtop was to mimic a convertible with the top up, offering breezy motoring with protection from the sun. The CL63 AMG doesn’t even nod toward that. It stands on its own as a car that nobody will mistake for a ragtop but nonetheless tells the world that the well-heeled owner has no need of practicality.
That’s because you wouldn’t wish this coupe—or any other coupe, for that matter—on your good friends. Despite the fact that the front seatbacks fold and the seats move automatically forward at a touch, it still requires contortionist moves to crawl into the back seats. Once there, the accommodations are restricted for all but smaller humans.The coupe’s exterior styling is sensuous and fluidic, with lines that sweep and flow in all directions from bumper to bumper and side to side. Inside, the story is the same, with supple leather and wood trim that is finished to look like engine-turned metal.
Big, supportive seats up front are nicely coved for comfort, with lateral support that would rival some race-car seats. They can be adjusted in a myriad of ways to accommodate anyone and, should you want or need it, can provide back massages.
The only disconcerting notes in this array of adjustable creature comforts are the seat-adjustment buttons and levers, which are located on the doors. They are laid out to mimic the seat and headrest positions but are awkward to use compared to the seat adjusters on the sides of the seats in many other cars. However, there may not have been a choice because the seats are so tight against the doors there’s no room to reach down there unless you open the door.
On the road, the CL63 AMG is something like a thoroughbred race horse, so full of itself that it cannot be held back. Traveling on an interstate, it’s ridiculously easy to exceed even the highest posted speed limits by 20 or 30 miles without realizing it. It’s best in those circumstances to simply set the automatic distance-maintaining cruise control and relax.
The authoritative V8 engine fairly crackles when you hit the accelerator pedal from a stop sign, as the twin turbochargers kick in without hesitation and the seven-speed transmission snaps off high-rpm shifts. Acceleration comes on as does everything else in this car, with an unobtrusive surge that is as peaceful as it is strong. There’s just enough engine sound to let you know that your urges are abetted by 563 thoroughbreds.