2010 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG: Powerful Pleasure

Written by Brian Armstead

The word “perfection” brings a wealth of expectations. It’s a word that implies no flaws, wrinkles or other unacceptable attributes. After a week of testing Mercedes-Benz’s new CL63 AMG Coupe, perhaps they had the word perfection on the whiteboards of every decision maker who put this superb car together.

AMG is the performance wing of the Mercedes brand, and the heart of any AMG conversion starts under the hood. In the case of the CL63 AMG, you’ll find a sweet 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 that punches out 518 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. This hand-built engine features a variable intake manifold, four valves per cylinder for better breathing, variable valve timing and a silicon-aluminum alloy engine block for superior strength.

On the road, the 500 plus horses propel this heavy coupe with authority. Stop light starts, highway passing maneuvers and any other acceleration chores are effortless. The AMG engine sings an impressive song under full throttle, with a sound reminiscent of engines that propel some of the world’s finest drivers around racetracks. Zero to sixty m.p.h. runs are accomplished in a scant 4.5 seconds.

Essentially a two-door S-Class, the CL is a rolling work of art. The loss of those two doors further beautifies an already stunning design. A nicely rounded rear and aggressive fender flares differentiate the two big beauties. And this is no “insurance” coupe, with two useless rear seats. Yes, real, life sized adults can fit well in the rear. And all passengers get the full-tilt Mercedes-Benz luxe treatment. Hand polished Burl Walnut trim (Black Ash and Chestnut are additional choices); 11-speaker harman/kardon LOGIC7 audio; SIRIUS Satellite Radio; supple leather and aluminum trim; COMAND telematics with a fairly easy to use rotary controller and on-screen display options; a terrific, adjustable ambient lighting system; heat and noise insulating glass; AMG instrumentation featuring a Swiss-made IWC clock; rear, power window shade; and heated, ventilated, active front seats are highlights of an exceptionally well-appointed cabin. And those active seats really please. Using COMAND, you can set the seats to provide variable lateral support. Turn left, and the right bolster inflates to keep you planted, turn right, and the left bolster inflates. You can select three levels of inflation depending on how hard you plan to exercise the precision AMG V8. Just want to chill? Set the rolling massage feature for you and your front seat passenger for long distance comfort.

As Mercedes’ flagship vehicles, the S and CL-Class have always been rolling showcases of the best technology the brand has to offer. The new CL continues the trend with a score of monikers relating to safety and overall vehicle control. One such system, PRE-SAFE, debuted in 2002, and has received continual upgrades. PRE-SAFE senses an impending crash and automatically tightens the front seat belts and repositions the front seats to an optimal upright position for better crash protection. If PRE-SAFE senses an impending rollover, the sunroof also closes, the side windows close to provide better support for side curtain airbags, and special seat cushions inflate to provide enhanced lateral support – ultimately helping the side airbags to provide better crash protection. The CL steps the PRE-SAFE system up even higher, adding PRE-SAFE Brake, which partially applies the brakes in certain emergency situations.

PRE-SAFE is also tied into Mercedes’ Distronic Plus cruise control system. Distronic Plus maintains a pre-set following distance behind a vehicle. PRE-SAFE Brake can provide up to 40 percent braking power if sensors determine a crash is imminent, yet the driver fails to react. Brake Assist Plus, another component of the PRE-SAFE system, senses the pressure the driver applies to the brake in an emergency situation. Mercedes-Benz safety research shows that drivers typically do not apply enough force to the brake pedal in an emergency to quickly slow the vehicle. Brake Assist Plus uses sensors to calculate the driver’s braking pressure. Based on the car’s closing rate (gauged with front mounted radars), up to 100% of additional pressure can be automatically added to significantly reduce the severity of a crash, or avoid it altogether. Mercedes-Benz research also shows a 26 percent reduction in accidents in cars that are equipped with Brake Assist. The system also reduced accidents in heavy city traffic by an impressive 75 percent.

In addition to the CL63 AMG, Mercedes offers a CL550 with a 5.5-liter V8, and a CL600 with a 6.0-liter V12, and a CL65 AMG with a jaw dropping twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12. All models come standard with Active Body Control (ABC). This active suspension system uses electronic, mechanical and hydraulic components to reduce body roll, acceleration squat and emergency dive braking. Over conventional shock/spring/swaybar combinations, body roll is reduced by 68 percent, with up to an additional 95 percent reduction available through a driver selectable console switch. The system works flawlessly and provides stellar handling without the harsh ride that accompanies many setups that lower the car and stiffen spring rates to accomplish the same goal of roll reduction. You’ll be able to corner as if the CL was much smaller, without jarring loose your expensive dental work.

So what’s the price of perfection? The 2010 CL63 AMG has a base price of $145,200. This is a car you should strongly consider if ultimate comfort and performance are your buying parameters.