Jeremy Clarkson Mercedes CL600 review | NO SPEED LIMIT

19 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Jeremy Clarkson Mercedes CL600 review | NO SPEED LIMIT
Mercedes CL 600

Jeremy Clarkson Mercedes CL600 review

When you go to buy a new car, you will be greeted by a salesman who has a ghastly suit and an unusual haircut. He will begin by indulging in a spot of reflexive-pronoun abuse and then he will offer yourself a list of juicy options that will enhance your motoring pleasure.

It#8217;s delicious agony, running down the possibilities, wondering what sort of satellite navigation you will need, whether the extra expense of 20in wheels is worth it, and exactly what sort of cow you#8217;d like to have killed to make the seats.

Eventually you will have balanced your natural instinct to splash out with the needs of your family to eat, and you#8217;ll present the salesman with the completed form. But frankly, you may as well give him a box of frogs for all the good it does.

#8220;Yes,#8221; he#8217;ll say, #8220;it is possible to make the car you want, in the colour you#8217;ve chosen, with seats covered in the skin of a cow called Brian. But not this year. Or next.

#8220;However, if your good self can#8217;t wait that long, myself happens to have a car in stock, which is similar to the one you#8217;ve ordered. except for the size of the engine, the sort of fuel it runs on, the fact that it has no sat nav, has an automatic gearbox and it#8217;s pink.#8221;

Naturally, you will leap at the chance because you are all excited, which means you will spend the next three years driving round in something close to what you wanted. Which is another way of saying #8220;something you didn#8217;t want at all#8221;.

No, really. Buying a blue diesel estate when you wanted a grey petrol saloon is the same as booking a holiday in the Dominican Republic. And then going to Haiti because the flight leaves 10 minutes earlier.

It#8217;s like falling in love with a house and then buying the one next door.

I#8217;d love, at this point, to lay into car makers, telling them to buck up their ideas, but sadly there#8217;s no point. Let#8217;s take Mercedes as an example. Currently they can offer you a massive range of cars, each of which is available with a choice of trim levels and engine sizes.

I#8217;ve done a quick head count and, amazingly, your local Mercedes dealer is able to offer around 300 different models.

And now it gets tricky because, on average, each of those models is available in a choice of 10 colours. So now it#8217;s 3,000 models, and that#8217;s before you get to the colour of the interior trim.

Mercedes is famously mean-spirited in this respect, and once you#8217;ve chosen a colour for the body you only get about five choices for the colour of the seats and carpets. Even so, that means we#8217;re now up to 15,000 different models, each of which is available as a manual or an automatic. So that#8217;s 30,000 then, and each of those is available with probably 50 different options.

The result is that Mercedes-Benz is able to offer you 1.5 million different permutations of one car.

Not that long ago Mercedes announced they were going to extend their range of saloons and estates to #8220;make something for everyone#8221;. I didn#8217;t realise at the time that they were being Germanically literal. They could make 1.5m cars and no two would be the same. Which is why, I#8217;m afraid, it takes an age for you to choose the right model.

And even longer to get it trimmed, painted and specced to your precise requirements.

I can#8217;t speed up the Stuttgart production lines, but happily I can at least steer you through the maze that is the brochure. So here goes. What you do is buy a gunmetal-grey Mercedes-Benz CL with a black interior.

The CL is a coupé version of the S-class and must not be confused with the CLK, which is a two-door version of the old C-class, or the CLS, which is a cut-down amalgamation of the E-class and the S-class.

Because it is a two-door coupé version of the S-class, the CL is meant to be quiet and comfortable. It is also fitted with a Rolls-Royce-style column-operated gearshifter, which gives you the relaxing options of backwards, forwards or parked. And because of all this pillowy smoothness and mattress simplicity, it wouldn#8217;t really suit Merc#8217;s magnificent but shouty 6.2 litre V8 engine.

And nor should you go for the entry-level V8, because nothing says a man has failed in life quite so well as a 500 badge on the back of his Mercedes. Apart, perhaps, from a Porsche Boxster. This is Premium Economy spec; it signifies you are clinging to respectability at the golf club by a mere thread.

So, you cannot have a V8, which means it must be a V12. It#8217;d be tempting, I#8217;m sure, to go for the 65, the most powerful engine in the world until Bugatti came along with the Veyron. It has so many torques you can light up the rear tyres so violently, they will actually dig holes in the road. I know this because I#8217;ve done it.

The power is stratospheric, atomic, and if I#8217;m honest a bit idiotic.

That leaves you with the normal 600, a 5.5 litre, twin-turbo 12-pot that makes exactly the same amount of noise as the crowd at a five-day cricket match #8211; ie, none at all. Well, actually, not none exactly. If you listen very, very hard you can sometimes hear it snoring. And that means it#8217;s ideally suited to the smooth suspension and the waftmatic gearshifter.

Driving it is like lying in a vat of baby oil, dreaming that you can fly.

Until you put your foot down. There#8217;s still no noise, and that#8217;s spooky because suddenly the view out of the window has gone all bonkers and you are overtaking light aircraft. It is properly fast, the CL 600.

Even though it weighs 2.1 tons it will get you from 0 to 60mph, silently, in just 4.5sec.

Being overtaken in this is like being overtaken by a ghost. You sense a blur and you feel the air move. But that#8217;s it.

I absolutely adored driving this car. It was a new experience #8211; power without sound #8211; but the thing I loved most of all was the way it looked.

. oh my God, it#8217;s gorgeous. The balance, the flared wheelarches and the nose. Holy cow. This has the best nose on any car ever made.

Mercedes CL 600

It does not, however, have the best ride. Naturally, it has air suspension, not because air suspension works better than coils and springs and dampers but because it allows the computer geeks in Merc#8217;s underground design bunkers to fiddle about with their laptops, making it move the car about as the speed and driving style change.

In theory it#8217;s brilliant. In practice, it doesn#8217;t work. And it really didn#8217;t work in the CL I drove.

It felt, sometimes, like I was on a water bed and I simply don#8217;t believe it#8217;s supposed to be that way. I honestly think there was a small fault in the system. And that#8217;s good, because it means I can ring Mercedes-Benz with a perfect excuse to borrow another 600 CL for a week.

Or two, just to be sure.

Price? Well, the 600 CL costs £107,097, which is known in banking circles as a very great deal of money. It puts the CL in the same 2+2 marketplace as the Bentley Continental, as well as offerings from Porsche, Aston Martin and Maserati.

As a badge, the three-pointed star sits among this lot like a branch of Marks Spencer on Bond Street. But the simple fact of the matter is this. As a car, it beats all of them. By a country mile.

Vital statistics

Model Mercedes-Benz CL 600

Engine 5513cc, 12 cylinders

Power 517bhp @ 5000rpm

Torque 612 lb ft @ 3500rpm

Transmission Five-speed automatic

Fuel 19.8mpg

Acceleration 0-62mph: 4.6sec

Mercedes CL 600
Mercedes CL 600
Mercedes CL 600
Mercedes CL 600
Mercedes CL 600
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