The Mercedes CLS coupe is my favorite in the German manufacturer’s lengthy lineup of luxury vehicles; it’s just a special automobile, even if I continue to disagree with their classification of a four-door automobile as a coupe.
But, the 2012 CLS represents the first major redesign of this beautiful car since it came on the market in 2004, and Mercedes literature claims that it “established an entirely new market segment — the four-door coupe, which combines the emotional appeal and dynamic design of a coupe with the comfort and functionality of a sedan.” I guess I’ll have to accept that, even though just about any dictionary defines a coupe as a two-door vehicle.
For 2012, the CLS line consists of three models — all powered by new biturbo directinjection V-8 engines and, for the first time, offer 4MATIC all-wheel-drive. Pricing starts at $71,300 for the CLS550, $73,800 for the CLS550 4MATIC and $94,900 for the high performance CLS63 AMG. Add another $875 for delivery charges.
The distinctive body lines of the CLS have been accentuated by its new design. Overall, the new CLS is about 1.2 inches longer and wider, and it fits right between the S-Classbased CL and the E-Class two-door, forming a family of Mercedes “coupes” that makes efficient use of existing chassis and powertrain layouts, while preserving their individual identities.
With its new 4.6-liter direct-injection twinturbo V-8, the new CLS550 gets 26 percent better fuel mileage (17/26 mpg), while still producing 402 hp and 443 pounds-feet of torque. The CLS550 is equipped with new electrically assisted power steering, AIRMATIC air suspension and a revised sevenspeed automatic transmission.
The 5.5-liter version of the new directinjection V-8 engine in the 2012 CLS63 AMG is rated at 518 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque. An optional AMG Performance Package hikes the output to 550 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque. Even with its highperformance, the CLS63 AMG is 26 percent more fuel efficient (16/hwy), thanks in part to an innovative ECO stop-start system.
Whenever the AMG model stops in “D” or “N” with the brake pedal depressed in “Controlled Efficiency” transmission mode, the engine is automatically turned off to save fuel. As soon as the driver releases the brake, the engine computer decides which piston is in the best position for first ignition, and the direct fuel injection and multi-spark systems work with a starter motor to re-start the engine almost instantly.
The CLS63 AMG features a seven-speed MCT (multi-clutch technology) sport transmission with an innovative startup clutch that replaces the conventional torque converter. Providing the direct feedback of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic, the MCT transmission offers impressive versatility and faster shift times.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.