2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Review

2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class - New Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG gives astounding performance.


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. Along with a destination charge, they pushed the price of my new test CLS63 AMG to $112,585.

This four-door sedan has coupe-like styling, which was pioneered by Mercedes in 2006 with the original CLS and has been copied by other automakers.

Some may feel that the revised styling of the 2012 CLS63 AMG is overly aggressive, compared to the2011 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. 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.

A handy $3,690 option package includes a rearview camera, along with heated and "active ventilated" front seats.   

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 over 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.

The regular CLS has a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V-8 with 402 horsepower, which is enough to propel this rear-wheel-drive "coupe/sedan" from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds.

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.

With such blazing performance, owners of the CLS63 AMG shouldn't fret about fuel economy, which is only an estimated 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on highways.  

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 rather 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

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.