It is no secret that Mercedes-Benz is currently working on the new S-class sedan, and with the new sedan, will spawn a new coupe.
The new coupe is also rumored to drop the CL-badge, and will simply be called an S-class coupe, just like the CLK was replaced by the E-class coupe in recent years.
But how is the current CL? In all the years it has been in production, I never had the chance to drive one, until recently.
Moe Zaver, from Mercedes-Benz of Mississauga mentioned that they have a demo model of the 2013 CL550 4MATIC Avantgarde Edition; and after continuous bugging from me, he agreed to let me take it on an extended drive.
The current CL-class first showed up as a 2007 model, and ever since has gone through subtle improvements. While the cosmetic changes have been discreet, there was a big change under the hood. Since the 2011 model-year, the old 5.5-liter, V8 engine was replaced by a 4.7-liter, V8.
However, don’t think the smaller engine equals less performance. In fact, the opposite is true, because the new engine features direct-injection, and two turbo-chargers. The end result is 429 hp and 516 lb/ft of torque.
Power is sent to all-wheels (the CL550 is only available in 4MATIC trim) via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. This automatic transmission is smooth, but is far from the quickest shifting box in the industry, even in Sport mode.
Despite its hefty 2,120-kg curb weight, this executive coupe can still sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. It’s top-speed is electronically limited at 210 km/h (in Europe, this model is limited at 250 km/h).
Facts and figures are one thing, but how is this car to drive?
Well, the short answer would be, not exciting. This is not the kind of car that raises your pulse and gets you grinning from ear to ear, the CL550 is a different kind of coupe. This car shines at covering long distances in extreme comfort, and tries its best to reduce stress.
Despite its sprinting ability, it is not the kind of car that encourages you to mash your foot into the carpet and leave other motorists in your dust. It is more at home sitting at a decent pace on the highway, with its adaptive cruise control enabled.
Given how quiet it is, the CL550 is the perfect place to enjoy your favorite CD, it really is a rolling concert hall. This big land-yacht also handles quite well, with its active all-wheel drive system making the best of the chassis and the task you throw at it. However, it won’t encourage you to find twisty roads. The biggest problem I find is with its steering, which is far too slow and lacks feel. I wonder if the AMG versions of this car are any different?
Given that most of these are bought by older clientele, go-kart type handling is not high on their list of qualities when they shop for a luxury coupe.
Interior space, luxuries, fit and finish would be though, and the CL550 scores very well in all those areas. There is plenty of space in the front, and unlike most coupes, even adults can fit in the back.
All Avantgarde Edition vehicles usually come with ventilated and dynamic seats, but my tester did not have these two features. Call it unique or call it an ordering glitch (this sorta thing happens every once in a while), but this kind of ordering mishap is probably going to fetch this particular piece some extra coin at an auction 30-years from now. So buy it and preserve it.
It did have all the other toys you get with the Avantgarde Edition, such as DISTRONIC PLUS (a.k.a. adaptive cruise control), Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Night View Assist.
That is a lot of money, but you do get a beautiful looking coupe (it really is one of the most handsome looking coupes ever created) that offers genuine comfort for four. Plus, thanks to its price tag, you also don’t see these at every traffic light (unless you live in Abu Dhabi), which is a big part of its draw for some.