Mercedes Benz CL 500

16 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes Benz CL 500
Mercedes CL 500

Mercedes Benz CL 500 (September 2007)

Benz’s biggest two-door is a consummate grand tourer but there are some practical compromises

Model: Mercedes Benz CL 500

RRP: $308,000

Price as tested: $325,050 (AMG styling package $13,900; 19-inch AMG alloys $2500; garage door opener $650)

Also consider: Bentley Continental GT, BMW M6

Overall rating: 4.0/5.0

Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 4.0/5.0

Price, Packaging and Practicality: 3.5/5.0

Safety: 4.5/5.0

Behind the wheel: 4.0/5.0

X-factor: 4.0/5.0

The CL is, even by Mercedes-Benz’s standards, very much a niche product. According to the official VFACTS sales figures, to the end of July, the German manufacturer had sold just 68 CL models out of a total of nearly 10,500 cars Down Under making it the smallest seller in the entire Mercedes lineup.

And it’s no great surprise really, given that the cheapest model, the 5.5-litre V8 CL 500 that the Carsales Network drove, starts at over $300,000. This is a car that is truly in a rarefied class with very specific appeal.

Based on the large S-Class sedan platform, the CL is a two-door coupe that seats just four giving the big Benz some serious sex appeal. From the outside, its sleek and long low lines speak of a very strong performance potential and when you throw in the optional AMG body kit and wheels that were fitted to our test car, it has an even more aggressive, purposeful and sporty look about it.

But you pay for that look with the cost of the skirts, spoilers and 19-inch alloys adding the cost of a small hatchback (the whole car!) to the ‘as tested’ price of the CL.

Open the long doors and slip into the leather-trimmed heated and ventilated driver’s seat and you do, however, get a feel for the sort of luxury that serious money can buy. Everything is electrically-operated, from the comfortable and supportive seats to the automatic latching of the doors, while interior appointments want for nothing with a fully automatic climate control system, Harman Kardon audio system, six-stack DVD/TV unit, voice activated phone and keyless entry among the items that make life a little more comfortable and convenient for the well-heeled.

It’s all beautifully finished and seems well screwed together although over some rougher surfaces on our test drive that took in a loop from Melbourne to Daylesford in Victoria, the car developed a very irritating and constant squeak around the instrument binnacle.

There is an abundance of room for front seat passengers and although getting into the rear outboard pews is relatively easy, once ensconced, headroom was just adequate and legroom — for a car that stretches to over 5m — was surprisingly tight for this 175cm tester.

Mercedes CL 500

Hitting the start button fires the big V8 into life with a menacing growl emitted via the quad tailpipes. Maximum outputs are listed at 285kW and a more than healthy 530Nm of torque and all it takes is a decent stomp on the accelerator pedal, for the forward thrust to force your body into the seat back.

Benz claims a 0-100km/h sprint is possible in just 5.4sec and it feels more than possible. The delivery of the power to the rear wheels is superbly smooth and refined with the seven-speed auto box seemingly never lost for the right ratio.

While the acceleration off the line is no doubt strong, it is the midrange grunt that truly impresses with a quick blip of the throttle resulting in an instantaneous shift down and more than enough urge immediately on tap to overtake from cruising speeds.

With the car featuring Active Body Control that automatically adjusts suspension settings within three manually selectable modes of Sport, Manual and Comfort, the ride quality is superb regardless of the surface. With the suspension set to Comfort there is little to notice of occasional short sharp ruts and a delightful degree of suppleness and compliance that sees the kilometres swallowed with ease.

And as comfortable and competent as the CL 500 is in the cruising stakes, it is also equally adept at tackling and mastering a winding country road.

Drop the suspension into Sport mode to firm and lower (by 10mm) the suspension and you have a car that handles as well as it rides.

Shift changes can be made manually via the steering column-mounted paddles and with the transmission locked down to second and third and the engine spinning in the hugely strong and responsive midrange, you can push the big CL hard into a corner and it simply hunkers down and pushes itself through sitting extremely flat and solid on the road.

At just on 2000kg, the CL is no lightweight but such is the balance of the chassis and clever electronics of the body control unit that you can change directions at speed and the car will faithfully maintain your desired line. There is enormous grip from the wide, low-profile rubber and the steering, while pleasantly light at suburban speeds, weighs up nicely for an enthusiastic drive with plenty of feel and feedback.

On the road, the CL feels every bit the driving machine that its imposing looks suggest. It’s a car that definitely makes a statement whether in the driveway or on the road. But you do pay for that statement heartily — through some compromises in practicality as well as your wallet.

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Mercedes CL 500
Mercedes CL 500
Mercedes CL 500
Mercedes CL 500
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