- Multi-contour seats are perhaps the best in any new car
- Onboard features are a tech-geek’s dream
- Very smooth ride that doesn't feel floaty
- Feeling of heft and stability on the highway
- Instrument panel design keeps it simple and elegant
- Hard to access some features in the screen-based interface
- Challenging backseat entry/exit
- Doesn’t feel all that roomy inside for such a huge coupe
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.
The CL-Class is a large luxury coupe and the flagship model for technology features in the Mercedes-Benz line. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class was completely redesigned for 2007 with fresh styling, mechanical enhancements, increasingly powerful engines, and more lavish (and geeky) equipment than ever before. The CL65 also comes in a 40th Anniversary Edition for 2008, painted in Liquid Metal.
There are four different versions of the new coupe, starting with the "base" CL550. It's powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 with a 388-horsepower engine that's teamed to a seven-speed automatic. There's a manual shift mode that can be operated without moving your hands off the wheel. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL600 is powered by a V-12 engine with 510 hp and 612 pound-feet of torque. Two AMG editions also are sold: a CL63 with a 518-hp V-8 and a CL65 with 604 hp and 738 pound-feet of torque.
The entire 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class line, including the CL550, feels hefty and solid from behind the wheel. The big coupe can tip the scales near 5,000 pounds, and you'll feel the weight at times. However, the CL-Class's V-8 has plenty of torque to move quickly and handle with surprising agility--thanks to the sophisticated Active Body Control (ABC) system, which controls ride height and suspension firmness and can adjust almost instantaneously for quick maneuvers. The steering, however, is light and doesn't communicate much from the road. Also thanks to ABC, ride comfort is among the smoothest and most settled of any vehicle.
The CL600 and CL63 AMG have similar power ratings, though they have very different personalities behind the wheel. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL600 has immense torque, with a quiet, refined experience somewhat like the Bentley Continental, while the CL63 AMG is edgier and more raucous-sounding in everything from its ride to its sharper handling response. The especially exclusive CL65 AMG competes with exotic sportscars while not sacrificing the comforts and tech features offered in the other CL-Class models.
The interior design of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class takes a minimalist approach--with an emphasis instead on rich materials like a mix of attractive wood trim and shiny bits on the dash, as well as suedelike Alcantara elsewhere and supple seat leather--and it avoids the potential clutter of buttons and switches by integrating the controls of many of the nonessential accessories into Mercedes-Benz's "Intuitive Operating Concept" screen-driven interface. Contrary to the name, some of the features can be hard to intuitively find in this system, although it's easier to navigate than BMW's iDrive. Inside, with or without the optional multicontour feature, the front seats are comfortable for even the longest drives, and the backseats are very roomy for a coupe, though entry and exit are difficult.
Along with the opulent, classy interior, there are plenty of modern luxury and convenience features standard on the CL. Standard equipment on the base 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL550 includes heated seats, a SmartKey system, a hands-free calling system, the Parktronic parking aid, a power rear sunshade, and a 600-watt audio system with memory card slot. Top features on the CL line include active ventilated, multicontour front seats with massage.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL is stuffed with technology for power, safety, and traction. A trio of techno systems is 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 backup camera with a highlighted display that shows what's in your path as you turn; the system also includes a blind-spot assist feature.
Also available on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is a night vision system that bathes the area ahead in infrared light to help spot obstacles in the coming road under some of the darkest conditions.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has not been crash-tested by either of the U.S. programs. There are, of course, all the "normal" safety features, including side and head-protecting airbags, a knee bag, and conventional safety systems such as anti-lock brakes and the Electronic Stability Program.