Performance Testing - 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

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2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG: Performance Testing

February 27, 2014

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

By a rounding error of horsepower and an entire bucket of torque, our 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG is the most powerful car we've ever had in the long-term test fleet.

Our awesome 2009 Dodge Viper was close, making 600 horsepower and a pedestrian 560 pound-feet of torque with fewer cylinders but way more displacement. Our SLS AMG roadster was kind of close in power with 563 hp and a laughable 479 torques. But what our CL65 AMG really feels closest to is our long-term Tesla Model S. It's all thrust, all the time. That car makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, but does it in such a bizarrely smooth way that those numbers hardly feel relevant.

With its 6.0-liter V12 engine and a pair of turbochargers, the CL65 AMG makes a whopping 604 hp and 738 asphalt-peeling lb-ft of torque. Or at least it did in 2005. Have the past nine years and 59,000 miles taken a spring out of the old girl's step? We took it to the track to find out.

Tesla Model S
2009 Viper
0-60 (with rollout)
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)
12.2 @ 116.4
12.6 @ 108.4
11.7 @ 122.3
11.6 @ 125.7
Skid pad (ft.)
As-tested weight

Odometer: 59,033
Date: 1/21/2014
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $34,000 (New: $181,240)

Drive Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Five-speed automatic
Engine Type: Longitudinal, twin-turbocharged V12
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,980/365
Redline (rpm): 5,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 604 @ 4,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 738 @ 2,000
Brake Type (front): 15.4-inch ventilated, drilled and slotted discs with eight-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14.4-inch ventilated and drilled discs with four-piston fixed calipers
Tire Size (front): 245/40ZR19 98Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/35ZR19 96Y
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Pilot Sport A/S 3 M+S
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, directional all-season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,646

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.0 (w/ TC off 2.1)
0-45 (sec): 2.9 (w/ TC off 3.1)
0-60 (sec): 4.2 (w/ TC off 4.4)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.0 (w/ TC off 4.1)
0-75 (sec): 5.8 (5.9 w/ TC off)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.2 @ 116.4 (12.4 @ 115.5 w/ TC off)

30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 112

Slalom (mph): 63.9
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.89

Acceleration: Here's what's amazing: On the first run, with traction control on and going straight from brake to full throttle, this 9-year-old car did zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The rush of power is alarming, yet utterly smooth. If there ever was a deceptively fast car, it's this CL65. Unfortunately, we could never duplicate that original run. Trap speeds did drop off a bit on subsequent runs, but it was more due to controlling wheelspin partway through 1st gear with traction control switched off. The other problem is that the transmission will upshift to 2nd early when it gets decent wheelspin, which immediately kills the run. But still, even 4.4 seconds to 60 mph is pretty darn incredible. Manual shifting is via buttons on the back of the steering wheel or the console shift lever (slap left to downshift). It does not hold gears to the rev limiter (shifts at 5,500 rpm) and does not blip the throttle on manual downshifts.
Braking: Considering that the CL65 has a pretty long-travel pedal in around-town braking, it felt pretty good in our panic stops. The pedal did get a bit more spongy by the final run or two. Not too much nosedive but lots of crazy ABS commotion, especially at the end of the stop. Consistent distances. The first stop was the shortest at 112 feet. The fourth stop was the longest at 115 feet and the sixth and final stop was 113 feet.

Slalom: The rock-hard all-season tires aren't helping the big CL in this test. It's interesting driving the car around the cones, because it feels really old. The steering is super-slow and requires busy hands to make it turn. The ABC (active body control) suspension gives little feeling because it allows minimal body roll. But considering the tires, how big and heavy it is and the car's age, this isn't a bad performance.
Skid pad: While the active suspension returns little feedback to the driver due to the lack of lean angle, there's no denying that 0.89g is a better-than-expected level of grip.

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

Mike Magrath, Features Editor (@Mike_Magrath) @ 59,033 miles


  • You say that the tires are very hard? Maybe the pressure is too high in them? Or maybe MB Spec pressure is a very high number?

  • juddholl10 juddholl10 Posts:

    You need to put some wider summer rubber on there. 265 and 295 spec summer tires would easily improve this performance all around compared to the 245 275 spec that I had on my X3. Some Michelin Pilot Super Sports, please.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    I disagree judd. This isn't a sports sedan. Look at the weight 4700 pounds! This is an autobahn cruiser, a car to drive to Alaska and back really fast, not a car to tear up a canyon road or a switchback filled euro mountain road. Summer tires would be a waste of money.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 738 @ 2,000. I think that, plus the 4800 max hp rpm says it all. Tires are sized OK for this kind of weight and power output. 245mm section tires on the front for this weight class is par for the course. 275mm is essentially considering the power output (i.e. the Model S could benefit from at least 10mm wider rears... if it didn't have so much trouble maintaining geometry). Brake rotors are bigger than wheel sizes on compact cars from the early 2000s.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I think he means that those tires have been on there for's a 9-year-old car with 59,000 miles on it. But it says they're Pilot Sports A/S 3s, which is a newer tire, and not a rock-hard tire, either. Whatever the reason they're so hard, I'm puzzled that it only seems to occur to him that that may be a problem in the slalom test, but not the other tests...even though he keeps talking about wheelspin. With stickier tires, this car would do 0-60 in 4 flat and the quarter in 12 flat.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Here we go...incredible disappearing comments again...

  • dgcamero dgcamero Posts:

    I think the listed tires are currently the best handling all-season tires in production. Imagine if it had *gasp* Kumhos, or something!

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    @dgcamero: Ha, I had Kumho A/Ss on my Miata. If you've ever wondered if it is actually possible to under-tire a Miata, I have that answer. All sorts of slideways fun with that setup.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    dgcamero is right, if those tires are what the specs in the post say they are. If they are, then these particular ones on this car are pretty new, because they're been out less than a year. If that's what they are, I don't know where he is getting this rock-hard business. They're great tires - I will probably be getting a set for my GTI come spring.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    The current tires are brand new, put on by the dealership who (rightly, in my opinion) decided that while this car needs a tire with decent grip, it still doesn't need a full fledged summer tire. Bankerdanny gives some reasons why. The Edmunds staff who went to pick up the SL tried to get some summer tires thrown into the purchase, but failed. As for the rock hard comment from the writer, I don't think that he literally meant that they felt hard when he touched them, but that all season tires are figuratively hard compared to the stickier, softer compound summer tires that were on the other three models in the test.

  • 330joy 330joy Posts:

    Would love to see some other timed runs that really showcase the torque like 0 - 150, 50 - 100, etc.

  • rwatson rwatson Posts:

    Imagine what this thing did when new. Of course, you will dyno-test this thing eventually, right? I'm curious to see how much it's lost over the years.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Ah, quadricycle - you checked up on this for us. I just read Tire Rack's test of this tire - "Conclusion: An athletic tire that resets the performance standard for Ultra High Performance All-Season tires...From behind the wheel the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 delivered the best overall handling of the group, feeling very responsive and stable. It's hard to quantify, but the tactile feel through the steering wheel has much of the characteristic directness of a performance summer tire rather than the subtle imprecision of the typical Ultra High Performance All-Season tire...Out on the track, the Pilot Sport A/S 3's handling prowess stood out from the others, with excellent ultimate traction, precision and very good composure when driving at the limit. This tire is so good it tempts you to carry a little too much speed through the corners...In the wet, the Pilot Sport A/S 3 again led the way with a clear advantage in overall wet traction, stability and predictability during abrupt maneuvers...Michelin has reset the performance standard for an all-season tire with their Pilot Sport A/S 3, which delivers impressive handling in both dry and wet conditions." So yeah - rock-hard all-seasons.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    i think 4600 pounds and 740 foot pounds is a bit more than the french had in mind when they designed this tire lmao but that is respectable considering. i would be looking at a set of supersports at least when its time to replace those tires.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    no way summer tires are a waste of money on a car like this not only do they provide better dry AND wet weather grip they are also WAY quieter and provide a much much improved ride. with 740 foot pounds i would be looking at a set of summer tires and a set of winter tires if i lived in the cold. no way i would i trust the cars electronics to save me from low grip all seasons with that much power.

  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    I very much disagree with the argument that summer tires are a waste on this car. It was originally spec'ed with Michelin Pilot Sports in 2005. AMG clearly put summer tires on their for a reason. In many cases the entire ride/handling balance of a car can be fundamentally changed simply by going with a different type of tire than its engineers intended. Summer tires certainly won't make it handle any sharper, but it will ride better and be far better able to put its power down.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Hey, if you want to put a set of Pilot Super Sports on this car now, yeah - that would be great. I would however doubt that the generation of Pilot Sports they put on this car 9 years ago was better than what's on it now, gripwise. In leading-edge street tire technology, 9 years is an age. I looked at Tire Rack's tests of the PSS and the PS A/S 3 - in the same car, on the same dry track, the PSS lapped in 30.13 and the PS A/S in 30.16. Wet, it was 33.17 vs. 33.82. Skidpad, the A/S tire was .01G down dry, .01G BETTER in the wet. In the dry slalom, the A/S tire was quite a bit faster. In the reviews, there a lots of folks who normally run summer tires who have switched to this tire to extend the season in the spring and fall - it's really that good. I don't understand the remarks by the tester - this is just a super-heavy car with a boatload of torque. You can't suspend the laws of physics.

  • I think it be a blast with a set of Drag Radials!!!! Or even better a nice ECU tune with Drag Radials.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    I wouldn't use any high end Michelin in the LA basin, it's too dry. Michelin high performance tyres die in months here in Las Vegas. A lot of shops don't like to fit them because of customers complaining about cracking after as little as six months.

  • juddholl10 juddholl10 Posts:

    @bankerdanny Not looking for cornering benefits. Looking for a better way to put the power down. That MB decided 275mm rear was enough with 738 lb-ft on tap is ridiculous. The M5 has relatively WAY less power yet uses 295 out back. The X5, which is AWD

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    12.2 second quarter mile in this and you paid WHAT??? Holy crap for that weight and that price this merc is fast. Makes the 13 second/108-109mph quarter mile passes in my e39 m5 downright pedestrian. See, visiting this website is bad for my wallet. I had convinced myself I'd be fine with my next car running 105-108mph traps and 13.1-13.4 ETs. But noooo....had to visit edmunds.

  • dgcamero dgcamero Posts:

    @fordson1 fwiw I'm on my 3rd set of tires on my '07 GTI...stock ContiProContacts (fine, but kinda loud the entire time, rolly sidewalls, and not good in [light] snow), Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 (horrible horrible horrible in *every* way except dry handling aft

  • dgcamero dgcamero Posts:

    ...and my tread on the Nittos is only down to 7/32" in 25k miles, so they'll last well beyond their warranted 60k miles.

  • kevm14 kevm14 Posts:

    How come no comparison to the 02 Z06? It was about as fast if I recall.

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