Pricey Mercedes-Benz coupe is both a beauty and a beast
Let’s face it, only a select few will ever be able to buy a Mercedes-Benz CL550 Coupe.
The CL550 is a beautiful, sleek coupe that has no pillar between the two side windows. The test car was a “diamond white” ($795) that made the car nearly glow.
Starting price for this beauty? $113,150.
The test car added five options, including the paint job, to push the price to $127,870.
It’s hard to quantify luxury sports cars that go beyond $75,000 or so. But from a performance standpoint, the CL550 is as much a beast as a beauty.
Under its long, low hood is a 4.6-liter Bi-Turbo V8 that runs so smoothly you’ll barely feel it run at idle. The engine delivers 429 horsepower, a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph.The car is stone quiet inside and sublimely smooth in its execution of exhilarating speed. The seven-speed automatic transmission delivers seamless shifts and has both a Sport and Eco mode to allow you to err on the performance or economy side.
There’s no gas guzzler tax, either. The car is rated at 15 mpg city and 23 highway. I managed 16.2 mpg in about 60% city driving. Premium cars, and engines, require premium fuel.
Steering is firm and handling is good. While the 4,650-pound car feels moderately heavy, it corners well with no body roll. Big bumps, chatter bumps, rolling lumpy streets – none bother the CL.
The CL features all-wheel drive that gives it superb grip and handling in all types of inclement weather. Braking is excellent, coming from four giant disc brakes.
It’s inside the Mercedes that you start to discover why it costs so much.
In place of the standard German black-on-black leather interior, the CL goes with two-tone tan on the dash plus wood trim on the doors, console and center stack. The power tilt-telescope steering wheel is a mix of wood and leather. All the leather trim, including the dash and doors is soft and padded, which adds to the interior’s quietness. All buttons and the air vents have a pewter look trim to add elegance.Seats are well shaped and feature a soft perforated leather, complete with three-speed heating and cooling. Add to that three seat memory settings, a 14-way power lumbar support for the driver and excellent power seat controls easily accessed on the door, not in the cramped space between the seat and door as on most vehicles.
Best yet is the drive-dynamic, multi-contour front seats that are part of a $3,490 premium package. You can virtually shape these to fit your needs and they massage you while you drive. You can choose four settings, fast or slow and vigorous or mild. But within the seat back, air pockets inflate to roll up and down your back to massage it as you drive.
Some of the other options that would get your attention include side mirrors that fold flat once the ignition is off, power headrests, small paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, a driver’s seat that powers back with the engine off, or powers forward when you want to let someone crawl into the rear seat.
There are sport and comfort settings for the shocks to help smooth the ride or firm it when you want to feel like you’re on the racetrack.
The CL has a 40GB hard-drive GPS system with Bluetooth interface and voice control, a super sounding 11-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo, Sirius Satellite Radio, 8-inch screen, power rear sun shade, power trunk, ambient lighting inside, push-button start, cornering lights and all sorts of air bags.
Mercedes’ lane departure assist is several steps ahead of others. Instead of letting out a horrible beep or screech every time you come close to a lane marker, the Mercedes’ steering wheel delivers a slight vibration to alert you. That’s sufficient and less startling.The test car also added in its various packages an adaptive cruise control that slows the car when someone pulls into your lane, a rearview camera, night vision that warns you if it detects a pedestrian walking or standing along the road.
One other fancy device that adds $795 to the car is something called Splitview. This optically allows the front seat passenger to see a DVD playing in the navigation screen amid the dash. But the driver still sees the screen in its navigation map mode.
The tested CL tacked on a $5,900 sport package that included 19-inch AMG 5-spoke wheels and a tire upgrade, plus side skirting and sportier front and rear bumpers.
But for a luxury sport coupe, there’s a large 14 cubic foot trunk, large enough for a couple golf bags or luggage for a couple weeks of vacation.
The CL is a wonderful bit of automotive exterior and interior design, a beautiful merging of form, function, luxury and safety.