2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

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Review: 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Exceptional in most respects despite its weight and coupe inconveniences.
Pros:
  • Stylish
  • Fast
  • Refined
Cons:
  • Long, heavy doors
  • Difficult rear seat entry/exit
  • Over-the-top available V12

Large coupes of any status are hard to find, but big luxury coupes have been a traditional post-World War II model at Mercedes since the early 1950s. The new CL-Class is the latest and best such car from that automaker.

Big cars with a coupe body really don't go together because they're impractical, with long heavy doors that are awkward in tight parking spots. Entering or leaving their rear-seat area usually is a chore, and that area generally isn't spacious.

Lack of Demand
It used to be that, except for sports cars, coupes and convertibles were the sportiest autos. Convertibles remain very much with us, but large coupes began rapidly vanishing when consumers began demanding more user-friendly vehicles—and when automakers began giving big sedans coupe-like styling, with such items as rakish rooflines.

The last big American luxury coupe was the Cadillac Eldorado, dropped several years ago. That has left Mercedes as the last mass producer of luxury cars to offer a really big coupe. Rival BMW offers a fairly large 6-Series coupe, but it's appreciably smaller than the new CL-Class and has rear seats too cramped for adults.

Staying Power
While the coupe market is notoriously fickle, with new models fading after a few years, Mercedes coupes have somehow avoided that fickleness. In fact, they've often been flagship models. They've always fit in an exclusive niche market and have somehow been connected to famous Mercedes coupes of the past.

Large Mercedes coupes long have been based on big Mercedes sedans, and that's the case with the new CL-Class coupe. It's based on Mercedes' fairly new S-Class sedan, which has rakish styling for a large Mercedes 4-door model. However, the new coupe looks sexier with its clean, flowing lines. It shares no body parts with the S-Class.

Beats Predecessor
The new CL-Class coupe has a longer wheelbase and overall length than its 2000-2006 predecessor, which didn't look as exciting. The new model has smoother curves, a lower roofline and a more rounded shape.

The 2007 CL-Class also benefits from many improvements made to the S-Class sedan, including a stiffer chassis. It has more equipment, although some may feel it has too much gadgetry.

Big Mercedes coupes have always been expensive and the 2007 model is no exception, although it has all the comfort, convenience, luxury and safety features of the impressive S-Class sedan.

The CL-Class coupe is sold as the $99,900 CL550 and as the $144,200 CL600. (A hot rod AMG CL63 coupe goes on sale later in 2007 with a 518-horsepower V8, but was unpriced as of this writing.)

Impressive Engines
The CL550 has a smooth 5.5-liter V8 with 382 horsepower that propels the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. The faster, over-the-top CL600 has a twin-turbocharged V12 with 510 horsepower and enough torque to seemingly climb a wall.

The V12 just isn't needed unless you're the sort of person who wants to have the most cylinders on the block. It's an offbeat engine for U.S. driving and doesn't really come into its own until the CL600 tops 100 mph.

Autobahn-Bred
Even the CL550 is one of those German autobahn-bred autos that seem happiest cruising at 85-plus mph. In any case, both trim levels have a top speed electronically limited to 130 mph in this country.

The V8 shoots power through a responsive 7-speed automatic transmission, while the V12 works with a good 5-speed automatic.

Most who buy a CL-Class coupe are wealthy and want the best in all areas of their lives and thus care little about mpg figures. Estimated fuel economy for the CL550 is 15 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. Figures for the V12 are 13 and 19.

Surprisingly Nimble
The CL-Class coupe is too big and heavy at more than 4,000 pounds to be considered a sporty car, at least in the conventional sense. But it doesn't feel particularly large or heavy behind the wheel.

That's partly because an Active Body Control suspension helps it be surprisingly nimble, with no body sway I could detect during quick maneuvers and fast cornering.

The power speed-sensitive steering is precise, and the ride is marvelous. The car is stopped quickly and surely by powerful brakes, with good linear pedal feel.

Among the car's numerous high-tech features are brakes that partially apply themselves automatically if a driver is unaware that he's moving too fast for comfort while approaching a vehicle ahead.

Lush Life Interior
The sumptuous interior has first-class materials, backlit gauges that can be quickly read and large, supportive seats. However, some controls call for a little study to understand.

The long, heavy doors are awkward in tight parking spots. And it calls for awkward moves to enter or leave the rear-seat area, where adults don't have much room to spare.

The spacious trunk has a low, wide opening, although the lid has enclosed hinges instead of more compact hydraulic struts.

Odds are that the CL-Class coupe eventually will be ranked among the top Mercedes models ever sold.

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BB01 - 8/1/2014 7:42:57 PM