You would think the ultra-lavish Mercedes Benz CL600, with all its bells, whistles, and 612 lb-ft of torque, would be enough to satisfy your average guy with a mild God complex and a grossly oversized bankroll. But is it?
For those fiends of power and decadence whose hankerings measure off the charts, Mercedes-Benz outright denigrates its top-tier two-door coupe with the new, scary-fast CL65. And adding those three, magical letters--AMG--the big rear-drive coupe catapults itself into a land of stratospheric power.
Its heartblood is pumped via a colossal 6.0-liter, twin-turbo V-12 yielding 604 horsepower and a frightening 738 lb-ft of torque. Good luck to the asphalt under its wheels--much less the wheels themselves--when peak torque hits at 2000 rpm and doesn't show mercy until about 4000.
With that, Benz claims this 5000-lb behemoth thrusts itself from zero to sixty mph in 4.2 seconds, making the CL65 AMG the automotive equivalent of a Defensive Tackle with the speed of a Cornerback.
Naturally, you have to ask yourself: Should something this large be able to move this fast? Regardless of your answer, momentum such as this must be handled with the utmost respect. And for that respect, the CL65 will pay you back big time, starting with the low, guttural hum of churning pistons--a sign of things to come.
That's when we enter the freeway, where vast stretches can, if you choose, be covered in an unreasonably short measurement of time. Passing is like taking candy from a baby: stab the pedal with your right foot and you go from being a blur in someone's periphery to an ink dot on the horizon quicker than you can say "Aufrecht! Melcher! Grossaspach!"
In a flat out, unrestricted run, the CL65 is geared to reach a harrowing 212 mph. But that point remains moot as all AMGs, including this one, are electronically limited to 155 mph. All of this energy feeds to an older five-speed automatic instead of the CL's more familiar seven-speed transmission. The 65's enormous torque output renders the two additional gears, for the most part, needless.
But it was driving this CL on the twisty canyon roads north of Los Angeles that revealed an interesting dichotomy of form and function. What you have is an agile, sport-like ride with spot-on steering and virtually no body roll. In short, it handles like a $200,000 super coupe should, thanks primarily to a revised suspension consisting of firm AMG struts and Benz's Active Body Control.
But there's a flip side: the sheer size of this yacht is something that just can't be ignored. The car's girth takes up so much roadway that its large presence is somewhat of a tight fit on just about any two-lane passage--an issue that will certainly impede on one's desire to go into full-tilt road-carving mode when the venue calls for it.
But if you decide to go wild anyway, you'll have tons of stopping power to back you up. Reigning in forward momentum are front brakes armed with twin-sliding calipers, combining the virtues of a floating caliper with the high-performance abilities of a large fixed one. The massive rotors are vented and cross-drilled.
The CL65 is shaped like the rest of the CLs, so you either love it or you don't. It looks either classy and regal or pretentious and weird. Its wide Roadmaster-esque presence may find a fonder reception from a more senior generation. And the missing B-pillar is one of those "eye of the beholder" things, though it certainly gives the interior a more open, panoramic feel with the windows down, especially for the somewhat tightly situated rear-seaters.
But what does set the visuals apart are the CL65's amped-up AMG appendages, namely the quad pipes out back. The rear diffuser is available in carbon fiber, which gives the coupe a hardcore look that is further advanced by the vertical side air vents, and of course, twenty-inch, twin-spoke wheels wearing 255/35ZR tires in front, 275/35ZR in the rear.
Being the fortieth anniversary of AMG, Mercedes also offers this CL65 in a super-exclusive limited edition. Coated in Alubeam, essentially a liquid metal paint job, this version takes on the coloring of Arnie's silvery shape-shifting nemesis from Terminator 2. Mercedes is making only forty vehicles for this elite anniversary group, twenty of which will be available in the U.S.
Within, find just what you'd expect: severe refinement and world-class opulence. The plush cabin broods the intimacy of a cozy lounge made for sipping brandy and puffing fine tobacco. The Drive Dynamic seats are as soft and comfortable as a La-Z-Boy during normal motoring, but hold you perfectly in place with inflatable side bolsters during aggressive maneuvers. And the CL's sound system pipes in music that makes you believe you're in the actual studio while the artist is recording it. It is utterly mind-blowing.
Ultimately, the CL65 AMG is one of the most powerful luxury-cruisers ever put together. With monstrous under-the-hood prowess, superb long distance comfort, and status appeal galore, this CL has everything that the super-loaded, super-demanding driver would ever want. The only question now is, how will Mercedes out-do this one?