2000 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

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2000 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
Available in 1 styles:  CL500 2dr Coupe shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

16 city / 23 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 4
2000 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 5.0 3
$ 2,016-16,560
April 22, 2000

Mercedes-Benz has delivered its flagship for the 21st Century, a shapely coupe equipped with innovative technology, stellar performance and a massive price tag.

The redesigned CL500 is a true tour de force for Mercedes. It's a car that does everything so well that you hardly even notice, aside from thrilling acceleration and brilliant cornering that seems to defy the forces of nature.

Beautiful in form and function, the CL500 is an appropriate top-drawer offering for the automaker that last year trumped Detroit as the leading luxury brand in U.S. sales.

Slightly smaller than the last generation CL500, it uses the same 302-horsepower V-8 as the big S-Class sedans but with chassis, interior and high-tech features that are distinctive from any other model. Naturally, there is a strong family resemblance in the ovoid headlights and the taillights that wrap sharply around the rear fenders, but the elegant coupe has its own distinctive body style, with rounded fenders, compressed grille with its inset tri-star emblem, a lowered stance and classic roofline.

The CL also has shed a bit of weight, nearly 600 pounds. No, not the Atkins diet but judicious use of alloy and composite materials such as plastic front fenders; aluminum rear fenders, hood, trunk lid and roof; and magnesium inner door structures. Even the door and trunk hinges, forged in aluminum, are elegantly engineered.

There's nothing too flashy or in-your-face about the CL. The beauty is understated, turning only those heads that recognize its thoroughbred qualities. And its technological features are not designed to impress but to function competently.

The top piece of technical wizardry is the initial appearance of Active Body Control. ABC is a computer-controlled active suspension system that essentially eliminates body roll in curves or front and rear pitch upon acceleration or braking.

Using electronic sensors and high-speed hydraulic servos at each wheel, the suspension reacts almost instantly to road conditions and body attitude. The body stays level no matter how hard you corner or jump on the brake pedal.

ABC has two settings, comfort and sport, providing either a silky ride or taut responsiveness. Even in the comfort setting, the handling feels uncanny, though most of my driving time was spent in the sport mode, enjoying the edgy maneuverability. A backroads trip through Prescott, Jerome, Sedona and the Mogollon Rim was the perfect venue for this thoroughly enjoyable driver.

Some other techno features include COMAND, or Cockpit Management and Data System, which uses a video screen to control the satellite navigation, superb Bose stereo and telephone; a new voice-recognition system for hands-free phone operation; Tele-Aid, an emergency call system using the navigation system; and ventilated front seats that cool or heat with a fan-driven breeze.

Here's a new feature that quickly became a favorite: The front seats massage your back. No kidding.

And coming soon is a groundbreaking cruise control, called Distronic, that uses a radar signal to automatically adjust your set speed to maintain a safe distance with the car in front. Amazing stuff.

Also in the pipeline is a CL600 equipped with a new V-12 engine, different from the existing V-12 in the SL600. As well as soaring in power, it's guaranteed to soar in price, too.

About that price, $90,000 does seem just a tad steep for this coupe, no matter how splendid. Yes, it's singular and distinctive, an instant collectible, and the performance is just superb. But not even considering competition from other automakers, such as BMW and Jaguar, how about Mercedes' own CLK430, a lovely V-8 coupe, at about half the price? Or the CLK430 Cabriolet - all that and a convertible top, for $60,000?

On the top of the $90,000, don't forget, is the luxury tax and sales tax, plus a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax. Before you kn ow it, you're in six-figure territory.

As wonderful as the CL500 may be, there still are a couple of warts. For one, the video controls for climate control, stereo and navigation are just not set up right. They are hard to figure out, and even after you do, they are cumbersome and ungainly. I never got used to the identical system on the S430, either.

And the back seat's pretty terrible, especially when there's a big, tall driver behind the wheel. Actually, the driving environment and front-seat space is great for the extra tall, but any back-seat passengers with heads and legs will suffer.

But what the heck, this is not a family sedan. It's a coupe and a glorious one at that.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CL500

Vehicle type: Four -passenger, two-door coupe, rear-wheel drive.
Base price: $85,500.
Price as tested: $90,745.
Engine: 5-liter V-8, 302 hp at 5,600 rpm, 339 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm.
Transmission: 5-speed automatic.
Curb weight: 4,113 pounds.
Wheelbase: 113.6 inches.
EPA mileage: 16 city, 23 highway.

    Expert Reviews 3 of 4

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