Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - CL-class - CL65 AMG
Sheer luxury underpinned by towering acceleration, ride comfort
Room for improvement
Very, very expensive, weight overrules grip on tight corners, thirst for fuel
23 Mar 2005
By TIM BRITTEN
THERE’S a lot to be impressed about with the CL65 AMG, but there’s no question that defining moment comes when you floor the accelerator.
Particularly from a standing start where, if your passenger is a little fragile, a brief moment of headspin can result as the big coupe lurches forward, then settles into a relentless, dizzying surge of acceleration.
Such is the accelerative power of the CL65 that the sliding cover designed to keep the sun out of the interior slips back to its rearmost stop as the wide-eyed passenger grips any solid bit of furniture that comes to hand.
The sense of power is phenomenal, seemingly (and probably actually) increasing as the revs pile on. The horizon rushes toward the car in a way that requires the driver to be acutely aware of how quickly the speed has risen, so the car can be prepared for the next bend.
What is just as amazing though is that all this is done with so little fuss. There is a brief moment of wheelspin as the traction and stability control systems come into play, then the car leaps forward in a way that denies its 4WD-like weight and the fact that only two wheels are providing the traction.
There’s just the blinding rush, and the muted, but delicious snarl from the twin-turbo V12. No correcting of the steering wheel, no sense that the car is accelerating just about as fast as most of us are ever likely to experience in a four-wheel vehicle.
The car remains as cosseting, plush and comfortable as it would be if you were loafing along at cruising speed. And the CL65’s road-holding abilities are up to the task.
Remembering how much bulk is being contained here, it’s quite amazing how reactive the car remains when it’s pointed into a corner, and how relentlessly powerful the perforated-disc braking system feels when you need to wash off all that rapidly-acquired speed.
The semi-active suspension keeps the car sitting relatively flat, helping mask its bulk, while the fat tyres and AMG suspension ensure there’s always plenty of steering response, even in tightish corners.
This is a 2.2-tonne car that can be driven with plenty of verve. Practically the only time the laws of physics come into play is when the CL65 is pressed hard around a tight, roughed-up corner and some rack rattle makes its way through the steering wheel as a noticeable but containable amount of understeer sets in.
Thread the CL65 through a set of sweepers and it will respond beautifully, sitting flat and obeying the steering wheel with alacrity.
The comfort factor is well addressed via the sort of equipment you’d expect in a high-end luxury car including heated, multi-contour AMG sports front seats, and a raft of standard gear including a thumping sound system, satellite navigation and dual climate-control.
Then there’s the fact that most AMG cars sold here are to personal order and can be bought with a wide range of personalised gear including power-operated folding tables, customised sound systems or an all-in-one system providing facilities for fax, photocopier, printer, scanner or modem.
Downsides? There aren’t many, provided you’ve got no problem lashing out on $459,000 for a four-seater car that will consume fuel at a prodigious rate (although driven carefully it will match the official factory figure of 14.9L/100km) and really will have little opportunity, on Australian roads, to flex its muscles.
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