2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class Photo
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On Performance
On Performance
Even the base 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS 550 is an impressive performer, but to move up to spaceship-class fun, the CLS63 AMG is the answer.
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

The plentiful torque is delivered seamlessly even from low revs
Inside Line

after sampling both models back-to-back, the rear-drive CLS550 predictably comes across as the more relaxed, compliant daily driver.

At 4,270 pounds, the 2012 CLS63 AMG is well into the heavyweight category for high-performance cars, but you'd never guess it from behind the wheel. Nimble isn't a word you'd typically apply to a two-ton, 113.2-inch wheelbase four-door, but it fits here. Nimble like Muhammad Ali, with just as powerful a punch.
Motor Authority

Roll into the throttle and it shoots this sedan forward (60 mph comes up in 5.1 seconds); but it's lively without being jumpy. The seven-speed automatic is a polished performer.

It was a glued-to-the-road feeling at all times and if ever we felt like coming unglued in a curve, the optional rear differential with 40 percent locking action tidied up the line quite impressively.
Inside Line

Like the styling, the powertrains for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class remain unchanged from 2012.

For the CLS 550, this means a 4.6-liter direct-injection twin-turbocharged V-8 engine rated at 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. That's a lot of go, and the CLS 550 never feels underpowered. In fact, it feels downright fast in most situations, though the relaxed ride quality and quiet cabin confirm this is the everyday driver option in the CLS Class range.

Zero to 60 mph acceleration takes just 5.1 seconds for the rear-drive CLS 550, or 5.2 seconds for the all-wheel drive 4Matic. Both models come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly, with sport and comfort modes to alter its character to suit the driver's mood.

The CLS63 AMG, on the other hand, adds a more stiffly-sprung, performance-oriented suspension to suit its very potent 518-horsepower, 516-pound-feet of torque, 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. An optional Performance Package boosts output to 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque for even quicker performance.

In standard trim, the CLS63 AMG is still good for 4.4-second 0-60 mph runs and a top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited. The Performance Package shaves the 60 mph time to 4.3 seconds and raises the top speed to 186 mph. A seven-speed MCT paddle-shift multi-clutch gearbox is standard with the CLS63 AMG, offering comfort, sport, sport-plus, and manual (paddle shift) modes.

Where the CLS 550 shows relaxed yet quick pace, the CLS63 AMG is a barnstormer, ready and willing to defy expectations (and logic) with surprising speed, impressive grip, and shockingly nimble handling for a car of its size and heft. A race-start mode helps make launches fast and repeatable, while an LCD display measures performance for posterity. An available $12,000-plus carbon-ceramic braking system offers truly race-worthy stopping capacity, but is overkill for both the wallet and the street.


Even the base 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS 550 is an impressive performer, but to move up to spaceship-class fun, the CLS63 AMG is the answer.

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