Car Review

2012 Mercedes-Benz CL550: New Car Review

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz  Sport
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz
$21,995
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 4MATIC
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
$23,574
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$12,143
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$11,198
RELATED READING
See all Mercedes-Benz CL550 articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Basem Wasef June 2012

Pros: Serious comfort for road trips; luxury and distinctiveness shared by few coupes; rarity attracts a certain sort of buyer-and recognition among those in the know

Cons: Tricky rear seat access; weird interior ergonomics; swollen price; dated design in some aspects

The market for six-figure supercoupes is slim, but Mercedes-Benz enjoys a singular role in this microcosm of small-volume, big-engined two-doors. Introduced in the mid-1990s, the CL-Class was previously referred to as the S coupe and before that as the SEC. By any name, it has been a sturdy German take on a low-volume segment that's littered with many even pricier and more exotic offerings.

Intended more as a long distance touring car than a nimble city runabout, the CL nonetheless offers soothing creature comforts that insulate occupants from the clutter and cacophony of urban commutes.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL550 starts at $114,975 with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive. Also available are higher-performance variants: the CL63 AMG ($152,375), the CL600 ($159,575), and Benz's ultimate coupe, the $211,875 CL65 AMG.

Comfort & Utility

The CL550 is all about cosseting its front occupants in swanky comfort. The rear passengers? Well, not so much. Quarters are snug back there, and getting into those seats requires a slow, motorized slide of the front seats before the cabin's aft quarters can be accessed.

On the other hand, the CL offers a nearly unparalleled array of creature comforts up front for two lucky people. The heated and cooled 16-way adjustable seats are expansive thrones that offer four massage settings, pneumatic lumbar support, and a seriously cushy perch for long drives. Rich wood and supple leather surfaces abound, and thoughtful details include the ability to change the air conditioning's level of airflow diffusion. On the other hand, the combination of a virtual, analog-like speedometer flanked by actual dials is, we think, a curious choice, although it does enable the speedo to transform into a night vision screen at the touch of a button.

The CL's trunk holds 13.5 cubic feet-reasonable but not eminently functional for such a stretched-out car.

Technology

The CL comes across as quirky yet quaint on the inside-witness the center-console-mounted volume dial, the long row of toggle switches and the general cabin sparseness-but plenty of high-tech features lurk beneath.

The Driver Assistance package ($2,950) adds Distronic Plus, a radar-based cruise control system with Mercedes' PreSafe braking system.

Parktronic is a feature that uses sensors to estimate whether your CL550 will fit into a parking spot. The system's Advanced Parking Guidance will steer the vehicle into the spot, leaving the driver with only gas and brake pedal responsibilities.

Other tech features include Night View Assist, which switches the speedometer to an infrared night vision screen that displays both warm and cool objects. Also included is pedestrian detection, which can discern human shapes and warn the driver accordingly. The feature is a part of the Premium 2 package ($3,490), which includes a rear-view camera and massaging seats.

Performance & Fuel Economy

Thanks to its direct-injected and turbocharged 4.6-liter V8, producing 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, the CL550 posts an impressive 32 percent efficiency gain over its predecessor. It is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, aided by a seven-speed transmission now equipped with smoother shifting and better responsiveness.

Stop/start engine functionality and two overdrive gears help the CL550 attain 12 percent better fuel economy compared with the model it replaces; EPA estimates are 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Safety

One unusual feature incorporated into the optional night vision is a spotlight function, which uses software to detect pedestrians and aims flashes of light toward them from the specially designed grooved headlamps at speeds above 28 mph.

In addition to the added traction gained from its standard all wheel-drive layout, the CL also uses brake torque vectoring in conjunction with stability control to ensure cornering control is maintained.

The optional PreSafe Braking system is capable of applying up to 100 percent of the brakes if an accident is imminent, and that package also includes active blind spot assist and active lane keeping assist, which reads lane markers, detects unintended drifting and warns the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. The system can also actively "steer" the car back into the lane using selective braking, although that function can be switched off by the driver.

Nine airbags offer extensive protection in the event of an accident, in addition to the steel unit body's stoutly constructed chassis.

Driving Impressions

While the CL550 rests at the bottom of the model lineup's pecking order, its on-road performance is not to be discounted. The seven-speed transmission's smoother shifts are appreciated, but the flexibility of all those available gears in conjunction with the V8's effortless torque-which starts its peak at only 1,800 rpm and plateaus through 3,500 rpm-enables swift and relatively silent acceleration.

Speaking of silent, the CL is equipped with noise-reducing and infrared-reflecting glass that helps keep heat and decibels on the outside of this 4,619-pound coupe. The sensation at highway speeds is one of insulated insouciance; it's easy to feel like the king of the road in the CL, thanks to its discreet yet dominating presence.

The CL550 performs with even-keeled prowess, and its Airmatic suspension offers a smooth ride that uses electronically controlled air springs capable of automatically lowering the car for improved aerodynamics while changing ride height for additional cargo or passengers when necessary. It won't win any agility awards, but the CL550's strong acceleration makes it a supple (and deceptively quick) way to get from A to B.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 650i xDrive - Also equipped with all-wheel drive, the BMW 650i xDrive packs a twin-turbocharged V8 producing 400 horsepower. This $86,000 coupe isn't nearly as exclusive as the big Merc, but the BMW offers more contemporary styling at a significantly lower price point.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage - The smallest Aston Martin takes on a different approach to the big-coupe genre; equipped with a seven-speed automated manual transmission and a 4.7-liter V8 that makes 420 hp, the $116,000-plus V8 Vantage coupe takes a more exquisite approach to interior design and offers a more delicate but sporting overall package.

Bentley Continental GT V8 - The so-called Baby Bentley doesn't come with a very babyish price-close to $175,000 for this imposing 2+2-but the average Continental GT buyer has more in common with the archetypal CL550 driver than you might think. Thanks to its sumptuous interior details, the Bentley feels a bit more special than the Benz, but its understated performance is perhaps better compared with the CL550's more potent (and lavishly outfitted) siblings from the AMG side of the family.

AutoTrader Recommends

We'd take our CL550 with the safety-improving Premium 2 package, gaining a rear-view camera, Mercedes' Night View Assist technology-and massaging front seats.

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz  Sport
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz
$21,995
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 4MATIC
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
$23,574
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$12,143
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan
Used 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
$11,198
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Mercedes-Benz CL550: New Car Review - Autotrader