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Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 2010 Review

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The luxurious sledge hammer that is the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has arrived.  The CL is (along with its S-Class sedan sibling) the technological pacesetter of the Mercedes-Benz range and is on sale this month boasting boosted outputs and lower fuel economy.

The company says the CL-Class attracts the most amount of loyalty from its customers and it's easy to see why, as there is little in the way of direct competition.

VALUE

It's difficult to call a mortgage sized pricetag under a value heading - the CL500 starts from $337,000, the CL600 V12 will be priced from $425,600.

The high-performance AMG CL63 will be priced from $423,300 and the CL 65 AMG will start from $519,250, but there's no much lacking from the features list - active front seats, surround system, active suspension - but it's still a mind-boggling price range.

TECHNOLOGY/SAFETY

The CL has introduced many of the brand's newest technology and the incoming model is no exception.  The CL500 brings with it active lane assist and active blind spot assist systems, which are part of the stability control program.

The active lane assist keeps the driver's direction in check, monitoring - via a windscreen mounted camera - the road markings and delivering a vibration warning through the wheel and an image on the screen as it gently brakes a rear wheel to tuck the nose back into the proper line.

The same sub-section of the stability control system is also involved in the brake torque vectoring system, which aims to control understeer by braking a single rear wheel.

The active blind spot system lights up a red triangle in the mirror when there's another vehicle present, but the new bit uses the lane assist system's features to detect an impending lane change (using the indicator activation) and warn the driver against it, using the brake to further deter the lane change.

The already-clever active suspension system has been further enhanced with a crosswind stabilisation system, which uses the suspension to change the body's position to compensate for crosswinds.

The direct-steer variable gear ratio system alters the ratio with regard to the steering angle, aiding low-speed wheel work in carparks but keeping the steering direct at speed.

The new star of the range is the twin-turbo 4.7-litre V8, which produces 320kW (up 12 per cent) and 530Nm, the latter a 32 per cent improvement and available from 1800rpm through to 3500rpm.

It now boasts direct injection and piezo injectors capable of multiple fuel injections, all of which helps it lay claim to more torque than the current 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated AMG V8 but fuel consumption figures of 11.1 litres per 100km, a 20 per cent gain.  The CL500 cracks the sprint to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds - a half a second improvement over the outgoing car.

The AMG model gets the multi-clutch seven-speed from the E63 and a capacity increase to 5.5-litres - retaining the new induction and combustion systems - resulting in a four per cent increase in power to 400kW of power and a 27 per cent improvement in torque to 800Nm from 2000 to 4500rpm.

The AMG model can now match the C63's sprint to 100km/h of 4.5 seconds, but the more surprising figure is 10.6

DESIGN

The beefy coupe has been given a makeover that takes little away from what was already a muscular, powerful coupe.  The snout has been given the sculpting treatment with a revamped bonnet, tweaked grilles (with an AMG-specific one-bar grille) and updated headlights, which are bi-xenon.

The front and rear bumpers have been given a new look, with LED front running lights and extra air intakes, with the rear brake lights are now solid red.  The interior package remains opulent, extremely comfortable but largely unchanged.

DRIVE

Brutal and rakish, the CL has massive road presence and the drivetrains to match, even more so than before.  The two new models on offer that we drove briefly were the CL63 AMG and the CL500, with different incarnations of the new V8.

The twin-turbo V8 engine in the CL500 is immediately impressive, with a quiet, refined part-throttle manner that dribbles torque through the seven-speed auto for unfussed - but far from tardy progress.

It suits the style of the car to travel in such a manner, but punch the right pedal and two tonnes of German super-coupe surges forward with a melodious tone.

The new steering set-up is welcome when turning five metres of Mercedes at low speed, without causing grief at higher speeds.  The AMG CL grumbles, burbles and screams (when required), but it lacks the hard-case crackle of the naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 of the outgoing car.

It's impressively ahead of that engine in all aspects and CL buyers might not want the petrolhead-magnet that is the AMG V8's aural appeal.

Both cars coped reasonably well with the rutted and broken surfaces, although some buyers (of the CL500 at least) are likely to opt for the smaller wheel tyre package for the extra bit of ride comfort.

Four adults and baggage are well accommodated in the cabin - as a 191cm driver I could sit behind someone of my size without being too cramped, but four average adults would have no issues.

The lane-assist system is reasonably subtle in the use of the brake to pull the nose into line - the Benz people say they would rather use the braking instead of interfering in the vehicle's steering, preferring to leave the driver in charge of the wheel.

Verdict: As a technological tour-de-force, the new CL has shown off some new worthwhile systems but its new blown V8 offers genuine force and impressive fuel use. It's a dream drive but with (for most) a nightmare price.

Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

Price: from $337,000.
Engines: 4.7 or 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8; 5.5-litre or six-litre twin-turbo V12.
Power: 320kW, 400kW; 380kW, 463kW.
Torque: 700Nm, 800Nm; 830Nm, 1000Nm.
Transmission: five (V12s) or seven-speed auto, seven-speed MCT, rear-wheel drive.
Fuel consumption (l/100km): 11.1, 10.6; 14.3, 14.5.

Pricing guides

$94,805
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$64,100
Highest Price
$125,510

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CL600 5.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $93,400 – 118,030 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 2010 CL600 Pricing and Specs
CL65 AMG 6.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $99,000 – 125,180 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 2010 CL65 AMG Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$64,400

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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