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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By Rick Popely
December 2, 2001
Vehicle Overview The standard equipment list grows with additional safety features and new engines spawn two additional models for the CL-Class, a two-door coupe based on the S-Class sedan.
The current generation debuted last year as the CL500 with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine. This year, Mercedes-Benz adds the CL600 with a 6.0-liter V-12 and the CL55 AMG, a high-performance model powered by a 5.5-liter V-8. The CL55 AMG also gets aerodynamic exterior trim, a firmer suspension and 18-inch wheels and tires. The CL600 gets unique Nappa leather upholstery and burl walnut or chestnut interior trim.
Rear side-impact airbags that protect the torso of backseat occupants are a new standard feature on all models. Distronic Intelligent Cruise Control is a new option. The radar-based cruise control adjusts speed to maintain a preset distance from the vehicle directly ahead.
Exterior Major styling themes on the two-door CL follow those of the Mercedes S-Class sedan. Four oval headlights, a smaller grille that bears the Mercedes three-pointed star and a wraparound rear window give the CL distinctive touches from the S-Class.
The current CL is 500 pounds lighter than its predecessor, 3 inches shorter in overall length (now 197 inches) and 2 inches narrower. Mercedes says extensive use of aluminum, magnesium and plastics helped trim the weight.
Interior As a coupe, the CL doesnt need to address the same practical concerns as the S-Class sedan, so it is designed to seat four, not five, with two bucketlike rear seats.
Standard amenities include a satellite-based navigation system with a touch screen integrated into the dashboard and an SOS button for automatic emergency calling and a voice-operated Bose audio system. A new option this year includes InfoServices, which provides custom news, stock quotes, sports scores, weather and other services via a wireless Internet connection.
Under the Hood Last year, the rear-drive CL came only as the CL500 with a 302-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission that allows clutchless manual shifting. This year, Mercedes adds the CL600 with a 362-hp 6.0-liter V-12 and the CL55 AMG, a high-performance model powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 with 349 hp.
The CL models come with Active Body Control, an active suspension system with electronic controls that continuously adjust suspension firmness to eliminate body roll and pitch during cornering, acceleration and braking.
Safety In addition to the new rear side airbags, curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the windows to protect the heads of occupants are standard, along with door-mounted side airbags for the front seats. The front-passenger airbag deploys at one of two levels, depending on impact speed. Antilock brakes, traction control and stability control also are standard.