Jeff Thisted: The new styling is impressive, too: wider-looking stance, deeper wheel wells outlining hefty 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, a more pronounced rear quarter-panel.
Tracy: All righty, Jeff, I get that this is a great ride, but for those of us who want more than just gorgeous curb appeal, she’s a beefier ride and-something that really matters to me-better fuel economy.
Jeff: She loves her fuel economy.
Tracy: I do.
Jeff: But there’s also lots of great improvements to the interior. Want to check them out?
Tracy: Heck yeah.
Jeff: Let’s take a look.
Classic burl walnut trim is standard, but you may want to opt for carbon fiber as we have here in our test model, or piano black inlays, to better complement the leather-finished sport seats. And for maximum comfort, the Premium package offers heated and ventilated seats that adjust 14 ways.
Tracy: The three-spoke steering wheel says "performance" and incorporates the paddle shifters and cruise and audio controls very nicely. If there’s one complaint given the premium price tag, it’s that you might expect that the standard features that come on the car would include at least the premium options that we have on board here, like keyless start and a rear-view camera. And the blind spot assist and lane tracking would be great, too. And why not rear side airbags?
Jeff: It’s true, the back seat isn’t as first class as up front. It’s comfortable but certainly not roomy. And it’s a little awkward getting into and out of for some people, too.
It’s amazing. Those wizards at AMG pulled out the old 6.3-liter engine and installed a smaller 5.5-liter V8. Thanks to twin turbochargers, they were able to get a jaw-dropping 518 horsepower out of it-up from 507 last year.
Tracy: Even more incredible than all that good stuff, Jeff, is the 550 horsepower that comes in the Performance package option.
Jeff: 550 horsepower! You heard her. But besides its wow factor, this car’s got several different driving personalities. Check it out: You can set the throttle response for Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Manual. Each will adjust the seven-speed transmission shift points for its particular driving characteristics.
Tracy: All righty, Jeff, tell me about the AMG button right here on the console.
Jeff: Thought you’d never ask! Press that, and everything, including the suspension, goes into heightened performance mode. Speed is limited to 186 miles per hour for Performance package equipped models, 155 otherwise.
Tracy: Too bad. But aside from racetracks, there really isn’t anywhere to test those limits! Of course, Jeff, you’ll conserve fuel if you keep the speeds reasonable.
Jeff: Fuel economy went up 32 percent. It’s now 16 city, 25 highway.
Tracy: And that’s partly due to the stop/start system that shuts off the engine when the car’s at a standstill. It’s so cool. Of course, with a base price tag of around $95,000, fuel economy may be low on the list for anyone considering this ride.
Jeff: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG is the kind of high-end luxury car that delivers all-out performance and fabulous styling, but at a price that not everyone would consider.