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Click to view picture gallery“Mercedes-Benz really
  does know how to
  build an elegant coupé.
  If you didn’t know
  that, just take a look
  at the new CL-Class...

COMBINING TECHNOLOGY, QUALITY AND COMFORT of the highly-rated Mercedes S-Class with a muscular and elegant two-door coupé body, the new CL-Class goes on sale in the
UK from 1 March in time for the latest
'07' registration plate.

Models available from launch are the CL 500 priced at £79,550, the
CL 600 costing £106,995 and the CL 63 AMG at £103,450. The prices represent a 7 per cent increase over the outgoing models but they benefit from 15 per cent added value in the form of more space, more power and more 'safe driving' technology. A comprehensive extra cost options list, including the additional safer driving systems such as Pre-Safe Braking, will add considerably to those prices for the CL 500 and CL 600 variants.

If history repeats itself, Mercedes-Benz in the UK estimates that around 700 CL-Class coupés will be sold in this country in its launch year with 70 per cent of customers choosing the CL 500 derivative. Mercedes also estimates around 1 in 5 customers will opt for the
AMG variant.

Unlike some of its competitors, no four-wheel drive variant is available for the UK due to the right-hand drive configuration — although left-hand drive markets will have the option of 4-Matic models.

Claire McDonnell, Product Executive for CL-Class, said that for the previous CL-Class — launched in 2002 — retail customers accounted for 80 per cent of sales. She expects that 50 per cent of customers
for the new models will be existing Mercedes owners, nearly half of whom will be previous CL-Class customers.

Apparently 93 per cent of previous CL-Class customers are male, compared to 76 per cent for the average Mercedes-Benz customer.
CL customers are generally company owners and directors with an average age of 54 years and with average annual earnings of close
to £90K.

The Previous CL-Class was the best-selling luxury coupé ever in the industry, racking up over 46,800 sales worldwide. The main sellers in the UK luxury sector are the CL-Class, the Porsche 911, Aston Martin DB9, Jaguar XK series, Bentley Continental GT and the Maserati Coupé. Between them these models accounted for just under 3,000 UK sales
in 2000, doubling to just over 6,000 in 2005 before falling slightly to just over 5,000 vehicles in 2006.

Longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces — the overall length is 5,065mm; width 1,871mm; and height 1,418mm — the new CL-Class uses the same platform as the S-Class luxury saloon. Not only is there more overall space, but the rear legroom has been increased and there is a larger boot — bigger by 40 litres and now providing 490 litres of load space.

Only petrol engines are available for the new range and Mercedes says these have been significantly revised to provide more power without increasing exhaust emissions. The CL 500 sports a normally-aspirated 5.4-litre V8 engine with 383bhp (an increase of 81bhp) and its 391lb ft of torque between 2,800 and 4,800rpm. The CL 63 AMG uses a 6.2-
litre V8 engine and delivers 518bhp (a 25bhp increase) and 465lb ft of torque. The CL 600 has a 5.5-litre V12 bi-turbo unit with 510bhp (up by 17bhp) and 612lb ft of torque. Both V8 engines use Mercedes
7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission while the CL 600 has
a 5-speed automatic 'box.

Top speed for all models is electronically limited to 155mph but AMG owners can, for an extra £2,160, specify a drivers' package which raises the maximum speed to 186mph. This also includes a day's advanced driver training at a major European race circuit. In fact, as part of the price of the car, every AMG customer in the UK has tuition in the form of the 'AMG Experience' — held at the recently opened Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands.

For the record, the CL 500 tested here takes just 5.5 seconds to accelerate from standstill to the benchmark 62mph and overall will re-turn 23.3mpg. City and Touring consumption is, respectively, 15.6 and 33.2mpg. The CL 600 covers the 0-62mph dash in 4.4 seconds and returns 19.2mpg overall. The CL 63 AMG gets from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds whilst returning an average of 19mpg.

Numerous technical safety features are available either as standard or as extra cost options. These include PRE-SAFE Brake, which initiates automatic partial braking if an impending frontal collision is detected thereby giving drivers a chance to avoid an impact or mitigating the effect of a crash in other cases. Second generation Active Body Control (ABC) is standard and gives the car a supple ride with more dynamic handling — it now has 60 per cent less roll than previously.

Equally impressive is the Advanced Parking Guidance system that lets the driver know if a potential parking space is large enough. Using
radar sensors to measure the length of a parking space as the car drives past, it indicates on the cockpit display whether there is suffic-ient space to park. Once reverse gear is engaged, the display then provides a representation of the parking manoeuvre and guide lines indicate the required steering angle to help the driver park inch perfect.

Also standard is the Intelligent Light System. The system incorporates the already familiar active light function whereby the headlamps swivel in the direction the vehicle is turning, and the cornering light function in which the headlamps and foglamps turn to illuminate the area to the side of the vehicle at road junctions.

The system also adapts to different conditions to make driving even safer. In country mode, the dipped beam is distributed in such a way that the right-hand verge is lit more brightly, increasing visibility by
10 metres. Travelling above 55mph brings the first of two motorway modes into play: output of the bi-xenon headlamps increases from 35 to 38 watts to provide better illumination of the road surface and edges. At speeds above 70mph (obviously not in the UK but handy overseas), the range of the nearside headlamp is also increased, producing a uniform cone of light up to 120 metres long and allowing the driver to see around 50 metres further at the centre.

Finally, switching the rear foglamps on below speeds of 45mph causes the left hand headlamp to swivel outwards by eight degrees and at
the same time lowers the cone of light. This illuminates the edge of the road for added guidance, while the wider light distribution reduces back-glare.

The standard COMAND audio-navigation system has been upgraded
and its display integrated in the dashboard. A rotary COMAND controller
on the centre console further simplifies driver-vehicle interaction, providing rapid access to frequently used functions such as the radio, the DVD player (which also takes MP3 discs) and the navigation system.

The Mercedes S-Class is widely recognised as the best luxury and technologically-advanced executive or luxury saloon in the world. Similarly, by utilising the core technologies of the saloon for the new CL-Class coupé, Mercedes-Benz have made the new CL pretty close
to being the best, if not the best, in its sector.

In spite of its power and size, the various driver aids ensure the new CL-Class is simple and safe to drive whatever the prevailing road or traffic conditions. The engine and transmission are perfectly matched. Even though it is harmonised with a comprehensive helping of safe driving technology, the user-friendly Coupe lets drivers have their own input and delivers genuine driving enjoyment. It is 'passive' when traffic is heavy but when needs be it is responsive and extremely quick and, should the worst ever happen, reassuringly safe. Considering its size, it handles really well and only the steering lacks ultimate feedback but, to be honest, most owners will not care about that.

The automatic transmission is extremely slick and makes good use of the copious amounts of torque available across the wide power-band. Inside the car, it is eerily quiet — virtually no wind noise and the engine produces a low growl when pushed hard during acceleration. The interior space is much improved over the outgoing models, and the layout of the controls is much simplified although it still, initially, takes time to find and learn all the functions.

Thoughtful touches include memory functions on both seats, an 'easy entry' function for the driver and stepless door hinges that hold the doors open in any position you choose. A steering column gearshift replaces a conventional lever in the centre console, and the steering wheel features shift buttons for the seven-speed automatic trans-mission. As part of the standard cruise control system there's also an easy-to-use speed limiter that makes it very easy to set the car's upper speed limit to, say, 30mph (ideal for town driving) or whatever the prevailing enforcement dictates.

The CL is beautifully made from the best materials and, inside or out, cannot fail to impress anyone. As you would expect, it is fairly expen-sive to buy and run and the 'must-have' options make it even more so. But the fact is that in this world if you want the best you have to pay for it. If you're fortunate enough to afford one of these cars, you'll
get a roomy two-door coupé with fantastic good looks. And you'll also get a technological masterpiece with awesome power and a refined performance.

If anybody tells you that spending £80K is self-indulgent, just remember as you are writing the cheque that appreciating the good things in life doesn't make you a bad person! — David Miles

Mercedes-Benz CL 500 | £79,550
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.5 seconds
Overall test MPG: 23.3mpg | 383bhp | 391lb ft

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