Mercedes Benz CL63 AMG 2008

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The high-and-mighty car market is small, and Mercedes intends to exploit every possible scrap, a strategy reinforced by the introduction of the AMG editions of the company’s range-topping CL-class coupe and S-class sedan. Like other offerings from the Mercedes in-house tuning shop, the CL63 and S63 add an extra measure of sporty character to a pair of cars that already rank among the best in the business.mercedes_benz_cl63_amg_2008-2-copy.jpg

Unlike other AMG specials, though, the key difference isn’t a matter of extra muscle. There’s certainly plenty of that—518 horsepower, 465 pound-feet of torque, thanks to a new 6.2-liter V-8, an engine designed, developed, and produced in-house by AMG.

But the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-12 of the CL600 and S600 almost matches the horsepower of the V-8, trumps its torque with a prodigious 612 pound-feet, and likely beats the straight-ahead hustle of the CL63 and S63 by a small margin, even though Mercedes estimates a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds for all of them.

That’s pretty quick for cars weighing well over two tons.

But what sets these AMG editions apart is a level of athleticism and nifty footwork that’s absent in their more mainstream counterparts. This shows up in a near-total absence of body roll in hard cornering, and quicker responses in a series of linked turns—mountain switchbacks, for example. AMG achieved this partly by employing harder suspension bushings, a time-honored tuning trick, but mostly by retuning the computer-controlled profile of the ABC active suspension system, which is pure 21st century.

Sticky Yokohama tires lend extra grip and high-speed stability, oversize brakes exploit the added adhesion, and AMG-specific bucket seats lend a much higher level of lateral support.

But the most instantly tangible element in the AMG editions is steering that clearly communicates with the driver, a striking contrast with the lifeless helms of the other CL- and S-class offerings.

With most Mercedes-Benz models, the AMG massage makes the subject vehicle the most expensive member of a particular model line. And that’s still true for the 604-hp CL65 and S65 AMG versions which cost almost $200,000.

But these second AMG offerings in the CL- and S-class replace the old supercharged CL55 and S55 and maintain their relative price positioning below the CL600 and S600. Those prices are expected to start at about $130,000 for the CL63 and $126,000 for the S63 when they go on sale in June. Does that sound like a lot of money? Maybe. But it’s less than the CL600 and S600. Bargains sometimes come in very fancy packages.

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We’ve been a little hesitant to heap praise on some of AMG’s recent products. It has less to do with their performance and more to do with their looks. AMGs used to be sleepers, but recent models have added air intakes, flashier wheels and numerous exterior badges. We were starting to wonder if it was all too much.

When the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG drove onto the Paris stage, there wasn’t any doubt — it looked nearly perfect. This car wears AMG’s new look as if it were designed that way from Day One — and to some degree, it was. Unlike some earlier AMG vehicles that were modified well after the standard versions were already on sale, the AMG team led by Chairman Volker Mornhinweg had their hand in the development of this CL right from the start. “Our customers have told us that they want the cars to be even more unique. Nothing too drastic, but enough so that knowledgeable enthusiasts will recognize it is an AMG,” Volker told us after the introduction.

Like most recent AMG models, the CL63 gets Mercedes’ new 6.2-liter, normally aspirated V8. Tuned to produce 525 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque in this application, the power runs to the rear wheels through Mercedes’ own seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes claims a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds.

A set of striking 20-inch double-spoke wheels are wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza tires that look barely big enough to fit around the rims. The reprogrammed version of Mercedes’ latest Active Body Control system puts the big wheels and tires to good use, as it’s able to virtually eliminate body roll through constant adjustment of the dampers. High-performance brakes utilize a unique sliding caliper design in front and composite rotors at each corner for optimum heat resistance.

Another area of importance stressed by Mornhinweg is the CL63’s interior. “Customers in this price range want more than just performance; they want even more luxury as well.” All CL63s get AMG sport seats covered in unique leather and aluminum shift paddles that rest behind the thicker sport steering wheel. A unique analog clock design and brushed aluminum door sills are also part of the package.

Scribbled on February 20th 2008 in Mercedes-Benz
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