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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
shifts are almost imperceptible
reassuringly stable when cornering
Big solid sedan feel from behind the wheel
Kelley Blue Book
All 2010 CL-Class coupes perform with ferocious speed, but the elegant cruisers among them bare their knuckles a lot less than the fight-club-worthy AMG editions. The base CL coupe is the $110,400 CL550; it's powered by a jet-smooth 5.5-liter V-8 with 382 horsepower, teamed to an effortless seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Above the CL550 is the $154,400 CL600, which rolls with a 5.5-liter V-12 tossing off 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque in near silence, and a five-speed automatic. Two AMG CL-Class coupes breathe far more life into the Coupe's chassis; there's a $145,200 CL63 with a 518-hp, 6.3-liter V-8 and a $207,170 CL65 with a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12, 604 hp, and 738 lb-ft of torque.
The CL550 and CL600 have ample strength across the powerband, but they're tuned to handle more benignly than their AMG kin. The non-AMG CL550 and CL600 are extraordinary grand tourers, with refined engine responses, a smooth ride, and remarkably precise handling despite their undeniable heft. Cars.com reviewers state that the "V-8 effortlessly builds speed, and before long you're doing 70 mph." ConsumerGuide calls the power delivery in the CL550 "ample" and notes that the estimated 0-60 time on the car is "5.3 seconds." In the words of Car and Driver, the CL600 offers "mind-boggling acceleration."
The CL coupes are geared for cruising pleasure. Kelley Blue Book describes the CL550 and CL63's seven-speed automatic as "traveling seamlessly." Cars.com finds "the shifts are almost imperceptible and the transmission willingly kicks down under hard acceleration." The five-speed automatic in the CL600 and CL65 is equally good at handling what Car and Driver calls the "gargantuan forces" that "are at work in the transmission tunnel."
Fuel economy, by the way, is lousy at 14/21 mpg for the CL550 and 11/17 mpg for the CL65 AMG.
This year, all CL coupes get a mechanical Direct Steer system that improves feel.
The steering's still just a tad slow and detached to be truly sporty, but the non-AMG CL's responses are pretty balletic for its 4,500-pound-plus mass. That's thanks to the sophisticated Active Body Control (ABC) system; it controls ride height and suspension firmness and can adjust almost instantaneously for quick maneuvers. Cars.com reports ABC "reduces body roll, acceleration squat and braking dive," which keeps the CL "fairly flat during cornering." ConsumerGuide contends the CL-Class is "reassuringly stable when cornering." Physics is still the enemy on occasion in the hefty CL. "When pressing hard on long, sweeping turns, the grip from the standard 18-inch tires runs out more quickly than you might expect," Edmunds observes. "When you transition from one tight corner to the next, even its sophisticated suspension can't always make the CL feel graceful."
The AMG editions turn up every sensory and performance dial, from engine sound to available grip. The CL63 AMG is edgier and more raucous-sounding in everything from its ride to its sharper handling response. Automobile testers find that you can "launch yourself across the entire city of Ann Arbor in no time, or at least to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds" in the CL63 AMG they drove. The especially exclusive CL65 AMG can hustle and keep a visual lock on some exotic sports cars without sacrificing the ride comfort and quietness built into its body.
Winning huge praise from reviewers are the brakes on the 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, which ConsumerGuide says "provide short, drama-free emergency stops" and Edmunds adds "are faultless, as they provide plenty of bite with little fade."
Despite its heft and length, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupes are superbly responsive-with a discernible edge dialed into AMG versions.