Full 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class now comes standard with a variable-ratio steering system in non-AMG trims and some additional driver safety aids. A rear-seat entertainment system is newly optional, some switchgear has been upgraded and multicolor ambient lighting has been added. The CL600 receives new standard 18-inch wheels, and both the CL550 4Matic and CL600 get optional 20-inch wheels. Finally, a limited "100th Anniversary of Mercedes-Benz Edition" CL550 4Matic makes its debut.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is the automotive equivalent of a first-class seat on an airplane -- it costs a whole lot, but once you're sitting in it, you'll understand why. Everything inside the CL is exquisite, from the dashboard materials and leather upholstery to the various gauges and displays. The CL is airplane-like under the hood as well, where an array of V8 and V12 engines give this stately two-door the thrust of a 757 barreling down the runway. Some other top-dollar coupes give you more style for your money, but few if any can match the big Benz's combination of luxury and king-of-the-road gravitas.
The CL-Class is derived from the S-Class, so the two models share many platform elements as well as engines and high-tech features. Stylistically, the coupe is distinguished by its unique sheet metal, including long doors, a dramatically sloping greenhouse and Benz's trademark frameless and B-pillar-less side windows. Like the S-Class, though, the CL has pronounced wheel arches that are a distinct departure from flowing Mercedes designs of the past. The overall look is undeniably imposing, but less cohesive and artful than, say, the seductive Maserati GranTurismo.
But when you're driving a car, you don't have to look at it, and there's something quintessentially Benz-like about the way the CL thunders down the highway. Even the base 5.5-liter V8 has plenty of oomph; step up to the CL63 AMG's 6.2-liter V8, though, and you've got yourself a country-club-approved muscle car. And then there are the two optional twin-turbocharged V12 engines -- a 5.5-liter version in the CL600 that makes 510 horsepower (8 hp less, incidentally, than the CL63) and a gonzo 6.0-liter in the CL65 AMG that cranks out 604 hp and an ungodly 738 pound-feet of torque. Suffice it to say that more power won't be on any CL driver's wish list.
The problem with competing at this lofty price point is the wealth of enticing alternatives. There's the BMW M6, for example, which boasts a screaming V10, superior handling and a markedly lower price than even the base CL550 4Matic. The aforementioned Maserati GranTurismo features inimitable Italian styling and a choice of two brilliant Ferrari-inspired V8s. The new four-door Porsche Panamera has a comparably beautiful interior, vastly better backseats and the driving dynamics of a sports car. Still, for sheer road-eating dominance, few cars can touch the formidable 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Mercedes CL-Class is a grand touring luxury coupe that comes in four trim levels: CL550 4Matic, CL600, CL63 AMG and CL65 AMG. The CL550 comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, a sunroof, 14-way power heated and active ventilated front seats, power door and trunk closers, park assist, keyless ignition and entry, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and a 600-watt Harman Kardon audio system with a six-CD/DVD changer and satellite radio. Options include the Sport package (which bumps up the wheel size to 19 or 20 inches and adds performance tires and a body kit) and the Premium 2 package (which includes a rearview camera, Nightview Assist with pedestrian detection and Drive Dynamic front seats, whose bolsters automatically inflate to add support during hard cornering). The CL550 4Matic "100th Anniversary of Mercedes-Benz Edition" includes the Sport package, the Premium 2 package, unique exterior paint, premium leather and piano black lacquer trim.
The V12-powered CL600 includes all the standard features on the CL550 plus the Premium 2 package and adds a heated steering wheel and Mercedes' Distronic Plus system, which includes adaptive cruise control, brake assist, parking guidance and a blind-spot detection system. Stand-alone options include an iPod integration kit and 19-inch wheels
The ultra-performance-focused AMG versions offer even more powerful engines as well as unique exterior enhancements, sport-tuned suspensions, high-performance brakes, 20-inch wheels and AMG multicontour leather sport seats. The CL63 AMG comes standard with all the features found on the CL550 plus an AMG adaptive suspension with Active Body Control, a leather steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles and the Drive Dynamic seats found on the Premium 2 package (the other features found in this package may be added as well). An optional AMG Performance package adds lighter, twin-spoke 20-inch wheels, carbon-fiber trim and a higher 186-mph top speed governor.
The top-of-the-line CL65 AMG includes all standard features found on other models plus the Distronic Plus system, the Premium 2 package and the AMG Performance package. The CL65 is further set apart by special leather sport seats and diamond cross-stitching on the seats and door panels.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL550 4Matic comes standard with all-wheel drive and is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 that makes 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic is the sole transmission. The rear-wheel-drive CL600 features a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that makes 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Performance is impressive with either model -- the CL550 hits 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, and the CL600 reaches the same speed in about 4.5 seconds.
The CL63 AMG is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 518 hp and 465 lb-ft; it's paired with a performance-tuned version of the CL550's seven-speed automatic, yielding a 0-60-mph time roughly equal to that of the CL600. The CL65 AMG is in another league altogether, boasting a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 that churns out a preposterous 604 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. A 4.2-second lunge to 60 mph is the result, as well as otherworldly acceleration on the highway.
Fuel economy is predictably not the CL-Class's strong suit. The CL550 achieves 14 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined, the CL63 AMG is rated at 11/18/14 mpg and the CL600 and CL65 AMG bring up the rear at 11/17/14 and 11/17/13, respectively.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL comes standard with stability control and a full complement of airbags (including side curtain and driver knee). A variety of high-tech safety features are also along for the ride, including PreSafe (which can tighten the seatbelts, reposition the front passenger and optional power rear seat, and even close the sunroof if it senses an impending collision), PreSafe Brake (which can apply the brakes and stability control system if the driver fails to do so in a timely manner), Attention Assist (a "drowsiness monitor" that surveys your driving inputs and sounds the alarm if you start behaving erratically), Nightview Assist with pedestrian detection, a lane-departure warning system and crosswind stabilization for models with Active Body Control.
Interior Design and Special Features
The CL boasts essentially the same elegant, luxurious front cabin layout as the S-Class sedan. The supple materials, rich leather and gleaming polished wood are of the highest quality, and fit and finish is superb. Although the doors are large and heavy, they open easily and close tightly, thanks to a power close assist feature. A wide range of steering wheel and seat adjustability, as well as heated and ventilated front seats, make traveling comfortable for trips of any length in a variety of climates. The rear seat is well shaped and offers considerably more room for passengers than the BMW 6 Series, though it's got nothing on the Porsche Panamera's business-class rear accommodations. Trunk capacity stands at 13.5 cubic feet, which is more than enough room for a weekend's worth of baggage and golf clubs.
Impressively powerful, serenely quiet, completely unruffled at high speeds and equipped with enormous fade-resistant brakes, the 2010 Mercedes CL-Class is the sort of vehicle that is no doubt most at home on the German autobahn. The CL65 AMG deserves special mention -- there's quite simply nothing else in this price range that can match the car's 6.0-liter "biturbo" V12, the beastliest production engine this side of a Bugatti Veyron. Handling is respectable for a large coupe, especially with the available Active Body Control suspension technology, which yields an eerie lack of body roll in corners.