The basics: V-8 and V-12 engines with 388 to 602 horsepower; six- or seven-speed automatic; rear-wheel drive
Price: $103,600 to $197,500
Fuel economy: 11/17 mpg to 14/21 mpg
Rating: 8.8 out of 10
The Mercedes-Benz CL-Class goes toe to toe with the Bentley Continental GT in mission, but it's all over the map in performance and price. "Base" V-8 versions start around $100,000, but if you go silly with engines and options, you'll spend about as much as the ritziest Bentley GT. There's plenty to love in the CL's cleaner shape, but it is less arresting; the same goes for its paneled but complex dash, filled with buttons but endowed with rich look and feel. The technology alone would keep Steve Wozniak debugging away for weeks, and the multi-contour seats would ensure his comfort, too. The CL's undeniable heft, handling precision and smooth ride are star features in a class of very few dropouts.
Still, the CL-Class isn't much suited for carrying four adults. Like the Bentley, it's a tussle to get into the back pair, though a center console and lots of wood will leave the humidor set happy. There's not that much room in back to justify the clamber, anyway. The technology's a marvel to have, controlling the seats and audio and climate control, but accessing all those features through buttons and wheel controls can grow tiring, quickly. And for all its mechanical complexity and ultra-luxe features, the CL-Class simply can't match the British ethos of high-end design. The wood's just wood--not a calling card, as it is in the Continental GT.
TheCarConnection.com's Bottom Line? If you want a coupe with it all—high performance, luxury, elegance, and some of the world’s top technology—the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is it.