Full 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Review
What's New for 2007
Mercedes-Benz's line-topping coupe, the CL-Class, is completely redesigned for 2007. The company will initially offer the 5.5-liter V8-powered CL550 and twin-turbo V12-equipped CL600. They will be followed up by the performance-oriented CL63 AMG during the summer of 2007.
In France, the term "haute couture" is protected by law. The phrase is reserved for those fashion designers whose custom-made designs set trends around the world and grace runways from Paris to Milan. But who could resist applying that term to the trend-setting 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class? From the fashion and design house of Mercedes-Benz, this haute couture large luxury coupe arrives in three variants: the anything-but-base CL550, the V12-powered CL600 and the racy CL63 AMG.
The Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has been fully redesigned this year and is based on a modified S-Class sedan platform. The CL's exterior styling remains true to the coupe's legendary predecessors by retaining important design cues such as the reverse-taper roof pillars that harken back to the 220 SE coupe of the 1950s. Immediately apparent on the new CL550 is its increased size: 3 inches longer, a half-inch wider and 3/4-inch taller. From the front, the CL exhibits a wider grille opening, three horizontal slats instead of the previous four and a long, taut hood surface with flush, clear-lens headlights. From the side, the CL's shoulder line emerges from its muscular front fenders.
As with the previous-generation car, the new CL panoramic side-window openings span the entire side of the car, giving the hardtop coupe an open-air look and feel. These expansive windows invite the eye inside, where the CL's generous use of wood trim contrasts nicely with the metallicized switches and aluminum trim. The CL's interior is one of the finest in the industry, with exceptional materials and the best fit and finish of its class.
Overall, the new generation CL550, CL600 and CL63 AMG sets the international standard for large luxury coupes with its superb blend of opulence and technology. Although the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is once again too heavy to be much of an athlete, we expect that just about everyone who takes a test drive will be smitten by its quiet, luxurious confines. But on the odd chance that the CL isn't for you, less expensive alternatives like the BMW 6 Series, Jaguar XK and Porsche 911 or (more expensive) exotics like the Aston Martin DB9, Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari 612 Scaglietti might be worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-passenger 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 large luxury coupe comes extremely well-equipped. Standard equipment includes the Mercedes-Benz COMAND interface, a hard-drive-based navigation system, a six-disc in-dash CD/DVD changer and standard Sirius Satellite Radio. There's also Bluetooth connectivity, 14-way power heated front seats and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.
Option packages on the CL550 include the appearance-altering AMG Sport Package and the Premium I and II packages. The Premium I Package includes the convenient Keyless Go system, and heated and ventilated front seats to keep backsides warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In addition to everything on the Premium I Package, the Premium II Package features a nighttime vision assist system and upgraded multicontour front seats. Finally, Distronic Plus, a radar-based adaptive cruise control system, automatically accelerates and brakes (up to 40 percent of the CL550's braking capacity) based on vehicle traffic, making routine driving much more relaxing and stop-and-go commuting less stressful.
To offset its big price tag, the V12-powered CL600 includes all the aforementioned options as standard equipment. The CL63 AMG is equipped more like the CL550 but focuses on performance with unique exterior enhancements, a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance brakes and AMG multicontour leather sport seats finished in special cross piping.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 delivering 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. It drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The CL600 comes with a surprisingly quiet twin-turbo V12 engine that generates 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. The V12 engine provides effortless thrust with turbine-like smoothness, developing peak torque at just 1,800 rpm. Mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, the V12 launches the CL600 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz. The high-octane CL63 AMG delivers a more visceral experience with its AMG-developed 6.3-liter normally aspirated V8 that produces 518 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a sport-tuned version of the CL550's seven-speed automatic transmission and boasts 0-60-mph acceleration equal to the CL600.
In addition to the expected level of passive safety devices including front, seat-mounted, curtain and driver's knee airbags, the CL ushers in a new era of safety technology with the debut of PreSafe "Brake." Like the previous version, the PreSafe system utilizes the adaptive cruise control's range-finding ability to monitor the car's positioning. If an accident is imminent, PreSafe automatically preps the car for impact. PreSafe Brake goes a step beyond by applying up to 40 percent of the vehicle's braking capacity automatically to reduce the likelihood of an accident in the first place. In addition, on the CL600, adaptive brake lights flash rapidly during emergency braking to help prevent rear collisions. Antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control and adaptive headlights round out the list of active safety features.
Interior Design and Special Features
Decadent, luxurious and lavish easily describe the CL's memorable interior. The cabin design is carried over directly from the S-Class sedan, with the kind of clean, elegant furnishings you would expect. There's not a single piece of trim that doesn't look and feel like it belongs in a $100K coupe, and you can upgrade it further with Alcantara trim and custom colors.
Like the S-Class, the CL's transmission shifter is now just a small stalk on the steering wheel, making for less clutter and a decent set of cupholders. There's an iDrive-like interface, but the menus are clearer and the controller is easier to use. Although the doors are big, they open easily and with none of the previous model's complex hinges. The standard seats feature plenty of adjustment, and of course there are optional versions with heating, ventilation and massage functions. There's more room in back, too. Adults can sit in the rear without worrying about how they're going to pry themselves out later. Trunk space has also increased slightly for a total of 17.4 cubic feet, more than enough room for a weekend's worth of baggage and golf clubs.
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class delivers a serene driving experience with plenty of performance to wake up passengers who might have otherwise been lulled to sleep by the car's super-quiet cabin and comfortable seats. Standard across the lineup is Mercedes-Benz's Active Body Control (ABC), an advanced active suspension system that reduces body roll in corners, squat under acceleration and dive during braking. The open road is one of the few settings where the CL feels light on its feet, as it glides over rough pavement without feeling overly soft. This is the kind of driving this big coupe was made for.
However, when you stretch the CL's legs, ABC's ability to keep the vehicle planted becomes a bit of a two-edged sword. Because ABC is capable of reducing body roll by 45 percent, the big coupe barely tilts a degree or two, even when the tires are squealing. Sitting dead flat makes it easier to keep your bearings in tight turns, but without the physical sensation of leaning over, it's hard to tell when you're getting close to the limits. The CL's weight is also obvious in these situations. On long, sweeping turns the grip from the standard 18-inch wheels and tires runs out quickly, and when you transition from one tight corner to the next, even the sophisticated four-link aluminum suspension can't always make it feel graceful. Faring much better are the four-piston front brakes, with their drilled and ventilated rotors providing plenty of bite with little fade.