Despite a lazy economy, you can still buy posh Mercedes-Benz models that accelerate like locomotives at full steam. And one glance at the revised 2012 Mercedes CLS63 AMG should tell you this is one very fast, luxurious car.
It looks expensive and is expensive at $94,900 — without desirable options. With the destination charge, they pushed the price of my new test CLS63 AMG to $112,585.
Some may feel the revised styling of the 2012 CLS63 AMG is overly aggressive, compared to the 2011 model’s "softer" styling. But, what the heck, this thing is designed for aggressive driving.
That said, the new upright grille treatment meets new European-mandated pedestrian safety regulations
The interior has been upgraded and is luxurious in Mercedes’ typical subdued fashion. Still, some controls are complicated, and I found gauges to be hard to read in bright sunlight. There's no problem at night, though.
The CLS63 AMG is loaded with comfort, convenience and safety equipment. There’s the usual luxury car power-this-and-power-that features.
Safety equipment includes standard driver and front-passenger knee and pelvic air bags. A $2,950 Driver Assistance Package contains active blind-spot assist and active lane- keeping assist.
It’s a good thing outside rearview mirrors are large because thick rear roof pillars hinder visibility. A driver can move the power mirrors to be flush with front-door windows to prevent parking lot or other close-quarter damage.
Front seats are very supportive and comfortable, and front doors open wide for easy entry and exit. But some larger occupants in the twin rear bucket seats will want more room and may frown at their cheap pull-out plastic cupholders. There are a decent number of interior storage areas.
A more rigid structure and refined, advanced suspension allow better ride and handling. Changes in direction are controlled by an easily grasped thick steering wheel. Steering is quick and handling is praiseworthy — especially for a fairly big car that weighs a little more than 4,000 pounds.
The brakes are incredibly strong, with good pedal feel. I found the ride of my test CLS63 AMG to be supple, but some may feel that it’s too firm.
But the new CLS63 from Mercedes’ high-performance AMG arm has a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 that kicks out 518 horsepower for a 4.4-second surge from rest to 60 mph.
If that’s not enough, an optional ($6,990) performance package ups the horsepower to 550.
How fast do you want to go? Mercedes says the 518-horsepower version tops out at an electronically controlled 155 mph and notes that the 550-horsepower version can hit 186 mph.
All versions of the engine are docile, smooth and quiet.
I drove the 550-horsepower version, but fairly heavy traffic prevented topping a quickly reached 90 mph. Acceleration was not only rapid — the car always felt as if gaining lots of speed was effortless.
The CLS63 AMG engine works with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which doesn’t require a clutch pedal. It shifts more effectively than a conventional automatic because it has no power-eating torque converter. And it can be easily manually controlled with paddle shifters.
The large trunk has a high liftover, but the thick rear seatbacks sit flat when folded forward to increase cargo room.
The hood glides up on twin hydraulic struts to reveal an engine signed by one of the Mercedes AMG workers who helped put the V-8 together. Nice touch.
Dan Jedlicka has heen an automotive journalist for more than 40 years, To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com