Paving the streets on your daily commute to work in a Hugo Boss suit with a big-body grand tourer utilizing a 5.5-liter twin turbo V8 outputting 536 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque is a dream of many. While negotiating traffic in style with “top gear” performance available instantaneously, the daily work chores ahead become inconsequential. Not only is your vehicle powerful, fast, and swift – it’s as intelligent as the mind in the driver’s seat and enhanced with myriad safety innovations. When 40 years of AMG engineering meets 125 years of Mercedes-Benz culture then you know you’ve chosen Another Magnificent German!
Introduced in 1992 as basically a 2-door S-Class (slightly smaller wheelbase), the CL-Class won the attention of many who desired big luxury coupes with style and grace. When you sit back and ponder upon a popular competitor, only the Bentley GT comes to mind. I have many successful friends who own both in somewhat even fashion. You can’t go wrong with either! When you sit behind the wheel of a CL you feel like someone special. When you add the AMG badging you feel untouchable. The $151,125 performance coupe has been enhanced with added power, greater style and state of the art technological driver assistance programs. As well, the new CL63 AMG and its smaller displacement is 20 to 30 percent more fuel efficient than the naturally aspirated 6.3-liter V8 it replaces. Who said bigger is better?
AMG is back with a vengeance. The “one man, one engine” philosophy has evolved into another stellar V8 platform for Mercedes-AMG. Found in the 2011 CL63 AMG and 2011 S63 AMG, the all-new 5.5-liter comprises 226 parts hand assembled by one technician and features spray-guided gasoline direct injection, twin-turbocharging and a start/stop function which shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt. I first experienced such a feature on the Porsche Panamera. Must be a German thing. It’s a weird feeling, like a hybrid, when the vehicle cuts off and then restarts itself. It takes some getting used to. The AMG 7-speed SPEEDSHIFT transmission also found on the E63 and SL63 has three selectable drive modes. The combo gives the CL63 a 4.4-second 0 to 60 mph time. It’s fast, but so are many performance coupes. It also weighs close to 5,000 pounds. What you get in this package is long-distance driving comfort, power at will, technology and a bold statement. An optional Sport Package ups the ante to 563-horspower and 664 lb-ft of torque and a 4.3 second 0 to 60 mph time.
Found on every Mercedes model except the R-Class and GLK-Class, AMG is essentially the dominant player in aftermarket performance from the manufacturer level. The name AMG is almost as widely known as the Mercedes name itself. BMW’s M gets lots of love but they are not clearing the numbers or models as AMG. And then you have “S” and “RS” from Audi, Jaguar’s “R” and Cadillac’s “V,” which is only found on the CTS line.
To introduce Automotive Rhythms to Mercedes-AMG’s latest creation we were invited to the Glenmere Mansion in the rolling farmlands of the lower Hudson Valley in Chester, New York, where a bevy of 2011 S63 and CL63 models were awaiting patiently to be driven. The CL550 with the new 4.6-liter V8 (429 horsepower) was also on hand. The empowering 150-acre estate was built in 1911 for the wealthy Robert Goelet who needed as escape into the county for his artistic endeavors. My short stay gave me an a quick inkling of what high society felt like, whether it was sleeping comfortably in one of 18 uniquely designed rooms or jumping in the CL63 for a bit of country air as the sun set.
Stylistically, from the A-pillar forward everything is new including the hood, front fenders, grille, and LED headlamps. The side view keeps its time tradition of the missing B-pillar for an open-air cabin to feel as close to topless a coupe can get. The rear features new trapezoidal tailpipes and new taillamps with the backup lights integrated into the trunk. Together with the new V8 powerplant, the CL63 is the perfect embodiment of what a full-size luxury coupe should be.
In regards to safety and technology, Mercedes-Benz has always been on the forefront and for the 2011 CL and S, innovations are abound with two new systems and enhancements to systems on current models. One of the latest introductions is Active Blind Spot Assist which adds to the current Blind Spot Assist first utilized in 2007. As in most systems it shows a warning in your side view mirror if another vehicle breaches the blind spot zone. If you attempt to switch lanes while it’s still occupied, Distronic Plus and ESP team up to brake the outer wheel to bring your vehicle back into its lane.
Since 15% of all fatal accidents are due to lane departures, Mercedes thought they would do something to reduce that number. So they invented Active Lane Keep Assist which uses a camera to read either line markers or guard rails. A haptic vibration of the steering wheel alerts the driver if they inadvertently drift outside the lane. However, along with ESP and Distronic Plus, if the driver doesn’t correct the situation braking occurs to assist. Interesting enough, the system is intuitive enough to know if the drifting is caused deliberately or incidentally. I purposely tried to drift and it didn’t kick in. When Mercedes told me the news I went back out after lunch and tricked the vehicle by sliding out of my lane as if I was nodding off and sure enough it pumped the brake and brought me back in.
Driver fatigue causes another 25% of all auto accidents. So Attention Assist System was introduced as standard on S and CL models. It first measures the driver’s level of activity via 70 different parameters and alerts them if any signs of drowsiness become imminent.
Another must have is Adaptive High Beam Assist which uses a camera in the windshield to read oncoming traffic and determine how much to dim your high beams. This gives you as much available drive time with full high beam on. The vehicle comes with more, such as systems that prepare the vehicle for a collision, brakes that help you brake when you’re not thinking quick enough, cameras that read speed limit signs and warns you, cameras that highlight pedestrians at night and much more.
For the day we drove up to Woodstock, enjoying the amenities of German engineering, the power on demand of AMG wizardry and the intelligence of vehicle automation. Windows are down and wind flows through the open cabin like a fall afternoon. My drive partner watched a Woodstock music video on the Split Screen feature (not legal in all 50 states yet). I couldn’t see, but didn’t care. Truly, these are indefinite moments of authentic vibrancy.