2007 Mercedes-Benz CL Class Review

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TCC Team TCC Team
March 2, 2007

There was a time, not that many years ago, when it was easy to make heads and tails of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. There was logic to its alphanumeric soup. An E-Class was bigger than a C-Class, but nothing topped the S-Class.

 

Not so, these days, with Vs and Bs, SLKs and CLKs, and even a CLS. Trying to figure out where the various models line up is a challenge.

Review continues below

 

Consider the CL-Class. Must be a variant of the compact C-Class, you might reasonably be willing to bet. You would, of course, lose that wager. The sleek two-door is, in fact, “the close associate to the S-Class,” explains Hans Multhaupt, the Mercedes executive in charge of developing the new ’07 CL coupe.

 

First launched in 1998, the CL-Class has been completely redesigned for 2007, and according to Multhaupt, it has a lot in common with the latest Mercedes S-Class, which took its bow not that many months before. The new car is freshly styled, mechanically enhanced, and more lavishly equipped than ever before, with an emphasis, the German executive says, on “increasing the feel-good factor when you get into the car.”

 

With its broad shoulders and sweeping, tapered roofline, there’s a clear family resemblance in the styling, not only to the new S-Class, but also to Mercedes’ big, “coupe-like sedan,” the appropriately acronymed CLS. Yet there’s also a certain classic quality to the design, enhanced by the big chrome grille and pillarless side windows.

 

The overall effect is handsome and sexy, and not as intentionally overpowering as the S-Class.  MORE--

 

 

 

Lavish, high-tech interior

 

As Multhaupt suggests, a lot of attention has gone into the new car’s cabin. Interiors are the new automotive battleground, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the high-end luxury market. Well-established manufacturers like Mercedes face a stiff challenge, not only from traditional competitors, but newer brands, such as Lexus, who are working hard to redefine the concept of luxury. So, the 2007 CL is a real step-up from the last-generation coupe in a number of critical ways.

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL Class

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Materials, for one. Gone is the chintzy ceiling fabric often, derisively dubbed “mouse fur.” The new car goes with an elegant, suede-like Alcantara headliner. There’s all the wood you’d expect in a car of this class, but now a buyer can opt for any of five different leather and wood color schemes.

 

The newly-developed seats – standard in the CL600 and C63 AMG models, but optional in the CL550 – all but mold themselves to your body. They offer a variety of ways to adjust not only recline angle and lumbar support, but shoulder and hip support, as well. And for a long trip, you can set them for either a slow, soothing, or quick and aggressive massage. They’re both heated, of course, and ventilated.

 

Technology is the other high-line battleground, and we got a good glimpse of where Mercedes is heading with last year’s S-Class introduction. Many of the same features – and a few more – are delivered with the CL.

 

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL600

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL600

Enlarge Photo
With multi-function seats, high-line satellite/CD audio systems, navigation and more, it’s getting virtually impossible to find a place for all the necessary knobs and buttons. Mercedes tried to find a suitable alternative with its old COMAND system. Clumsy and often counterintuitive, COMAND has been replaced with the Intuitive Operating Concept, which is operated through a larger, new LCD screen.

 

At first glance, you might be tempted to confuse it with BMW’s oft-maligned iDrive. And they do have some things in common, including a large, revolving control knob. Thankfully, there is also a set of buttons that directly access various, key functions, such as navigation, and while we’re still confused by iDrive, we found it possible to comfortably operate the new Mercedes system in a matter of minutes. Is it perfect? No, but BMW, take heed.

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL Class

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Power to the rich people

 

There are three different versions of the new coupe, starting with the “base” CL550. It’s powered by the same, new 5.5-liter V-8 that debuted in the S550, and makes a hefty 86 horsepower more than the old CL500’s 5.0-liter powerplant. Bolted to the automaker’s smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic, the 388-hp engine will launch the big coupe from 0-60 mph in an impressive 5.4 seconds – nearly a full second quicker than before. There’s a manual shift mode that can be operated without moving your hands off the wheel.

 

Unfortunately, there’s a slight dip in the 550’s fuel economy, to 15 mpg city, 22 highway. (Last year’s model delivered ratings of 16/24.)

 

There’s something about a V-12 that captures the imagination of luxury car buyers, and the CL600’s big engine will only enhance that mystique. Under normal driving conditions, it veritably purrs, but put pedal to the metal and it responds with a deep and resonant roar that underscores the swing of the speedometer needle. Making a solid 512 hp, it will bring you from a standstill to 60 in just 4.6 seconds. On the autobahn, it took us from 60 to triple-digit speeds before we could catch our breath. Surprisingly, the 6.0-liter 12-cylinder also delivers better fuel economy than last year.

 

For those demanding the ultimate performance, there’s the CL63, the latest offering from AMG. The Mercedes’ in-house tuner unit made a major technical shift last year, effectively abandoning its long-standing use of superchargers in favor of a new, normally-aspirated engine. In the CL platform, the 6.2-liter engine makes a whopping 518 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. That’ll get you up to 60 in about 4.4 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 155 mph. Blasting down the Autobahn, it was clear there’s a lot more headroom there, and indeed, there’s an optional performance package that will lift the limit to 186 mph.

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL Class

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With the AMG package, the seven-speed automatic can be operated in three different modes: Comfort, Sport and Manual. Moving up that ladder increases shift speeds. A pair of wheel-mounted paddles makes it easy to flick from gear to gear.

 

Two twin chromed exhaust pipes emit a positively musical note at highway speeds, and a deep, confidence-inspiring burble at idle. MORE--

 

 

Leveling off

 

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL600

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL600

Enlarge Photo
The ’07 CL introduces the second-generation Active Body Control suspension which, Mercedes engineers claim, reduces unwanted body movements by up to 45 percent. The system also lowers the car a wee bit at higher speeds, enhancing aerodynamics and stability.

 

We found the system worked with uncanny precision, to the point that this heavy coupe seemed to defy the laws of physics. Driving the CL550 and 600 models, even at the ragged edge, was a sheer joy, as they carved tight corners smoothly and predictably. Blasting through the hill country near the Bavarian/Austrian border, we were positively overwhelmed by the road manners of the CL63, which seems still more stable, with a slightly better on-center feel. The 20-inch Yokohama tires were up to the forces the CL could generate.

 

The CL63 – which reaches showrooms in June 2007 – adds a few other important features, including an adaptive braking system that responds to driving conditions as intuitively as the Active Body Control suspension.

 

There’s new technology, as we mentioned, everywhere you look on the CL, even headlamps. A five-setting Intelligent Light System allows the driver to optimize the lamps for various weather and road conditions. “Country Mode,” for example, helps minimize glare that might otherwise blind oncoming motorists.

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL Class

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For those who want even better night vision, there’s the optional Night View Assist. It bathes the road ahead with two infrared beams, the reflections picked up by a special, onboard camera. The resulting image is displayed on a special monitor on the instrument panel. Cadillac tried an IR system of its own, a few years back, with lackluster success. But that was a passive system and the Mercedes approach could prove more effective.

 

A trio of techno-systems are designed to reduce the risk of a collision using forward-looking microwave radar. Brake Assist Plus will increase the level of pressure you apply to the brake pedal if it determines you’re closing on the car ahead too quickly. Pre-Safe will take other steps, such as tightening seatbelts and preparing the airbags, if it senses a collision is unavoidable. Like other active cruise control systems, Distronic Plus will maintain the speed of traffic ahead – and hold a safe distance from the car immediately in front. But it can also bring the CL to a complete stop, in traffic, then start up again, when the car ahead begins to move.

 

For parking, there are ultrasonic sensors as well as a back-up camera with a highlighted display that shows what’s in your path as you turn.

 

There are, of course, all the airbags you’d expect, front, side, and head-mounted, as well as a knee bag; and conventional safety systems, such as antilock brakes, traction control, and the Electronic Stability Program.

 

With prices running up to about $145,000 for the CL600, the new Mercedes coupe isn’t cheap. But it’s visually striking and technologically overwhelming. All those high-tech features could be a bit daunting but Mercedes has been careful not to build a video game on wheels. The silicon bits only enhance the pure pleasure of driving the new coupe, which is why we expect the ’07 update to be the most successful CL ever.


 

2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

Base price: $100,675 (CL550); $144,975 (CL600); CL63 (est. $125,000)

Engine: 5.5-liter V-8, 382 hp/391 lb-ft; twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-12, 510 hp/612 lb-ft; 6.3-liter V-8, 518 hp/465 lb-ft

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Length x width x height: 199.4 x 73.7 x 55.8 in.
Wheelbase: 116.3 in
Curb weight: 4360–4890 lb

Fuel economy (city/hwy): 15/22 mpg (CL550); 13/19 mpg (CL600) CL63 N/A

Major standard features: Air conditioning; power windows/locks/mirrors; AM/FM/CD/Satellite; keyless remote; cruise control; power tilt/telescope steering wheel; engine immobilizer; alloy wheels; leather power seats; navigation system; Bluetooth hands-free phone; moonroof

Safety features: Anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; dual front, side, and curtain airbags and knee bags; Brake Assist Plus; Pre-Safe

Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

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July 4, 2015
2007 Mercedes-Benz CL Class 2-Door Coupe 5.5L V8

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The silence and comfort put this car in the top rankings, I have driven this car some 1200 miles in one day, with no aches or tiredness. It is the only car that I know of where the passenger seat can be fully... + More »
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