An ultra-luxurious four-seat coupe, the Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG is high on comfort but low on utility. Although it boasts a long wheelbase and a spacious front seating area, this German hot rod is more of a high-speed autobahn stormer than a practical people haulerPlenty of people in this world can afford an expensive car, but the closer the price of your ride gets to the median home price in America, the more rarified the atmosphere. The subset of the automotive market that can afford to drop more than $174,000 on a daily driver is a unique crowd.
These are people that, if our fellow Source Interlink publication Heavy Hitters is any indication, enjoy many expensive hobbies. In addition to cars that cost more than your house, they also like houses that cost several times what yours did. They also like private planes and yachts. That brings us to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG.
Now, normally when an auto journalist brings up boats in a review, rough seas lie ahead. That's not what I'm going for here. Rather than an analogy for the handling, per the cliche, I'm referring to the experience. Anyone who's so much as seen a picture of a yacht knows it's not a blue-collar affair. Luxury and comfort are paramount, but so is performance. After all, it takes some mighty big engines to get a yacht moving at a reasonable clip.
As it happens, big engines are an area of expertise for AMG. You may now be rightly pointing out that the twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 in this CL63 is nearly three-quarters of a liter smaller than the old 6.2-liter V-8 it replaces, but I'll now point out that, at 536 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, the new engine easily outguns the big banger V-8 and its 518 horsepower and 465 lb-ft. Actually, scratch that. It's not even that close. You see, our tester has the woefully under-named P30 AMG Performance Package, which rewrites the engine control software to pump up the output to 563 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of dimension-altering twist. As my cohort Jonny Lieberman said, it's the best $7300 you can spend in automobiledom. I just wish it did something for the transmission, which is a little clunky at times, especially when you're quickly on the throttle. This isn't an SLS -- hard-clutch engagement comes off as harsh, not fastAll that power gets the CL63 moving with such gusto that a Cigarette racing boat (like the one AMG teamed up with Cigarette to build a few years back) might be a better comparison. Rich people like those, too, I hear. The CL63 gets to 60 mph from a standing stop in just 4.1 seconds and powers through the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 116.7 mph. Sure, it's not the fastest car on the road, but considering its 4800-pound curb weight, that's pretty damn quick. Thanks to modern turbo technology, the power comes on in the proverbial wave even at low RPMs, where the engine spends most of its time thanks to fuel-economy-oriented transmission programming.
Equally impressive are the enormous steel brakes, which haul it to a stop in just 112 feet. There are cars that weigh 1000 pounds less that wish they could do that. Some of those cars also wish they could pull 0.88 average g on a skidpad and run our figure eight in just 25.8 seconds at 0.76 g average.What some of those smaller, lighter cars will do, however, is get better fuel economy. Some of you may scoff at the idea of someone who can afford a $174,000 car worrying about fuel economy, but the rich don't get rich by wasting money. The CL63 manages just 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, but that's actually a significant improvement over the old non-turbo model, which returned just 11 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. In fact, over a nearly 700-mile road trip, our test averaged 19 mpg, thanks to long highway stretches, or slightly higher than the EPA combined estimate of 18 mpg, thanks in part to an automatic start/stop system the EPA doesn't account for. I'm not sure what kind of nautical mileage a Cigarette boat or a yacht gets, but I'll bet it's not that good.
This two-door S-Class can certainly haul the champagne, then, but that's just part of the experience. With standard Active Body Control, the ride is about as smooth and comfortable as you're going to get this side of a Rolls. Or, you know, a yacht. The handling is reasonably sporty for a car this size, provided you leave the computer switched on. Disable the nannies and you're going to get a lot of tail-out action courtesy of all that torque. Save the wild and crazy stuff for your C63 Black parked in the next stall of your massive garage. Fact is, a car like this is designed to be driven with all the gizmos switched on, not off, so wrestling full command from the computer really doesn't do you any favors
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