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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
September 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview In addition to subtle styling updates, two new engines became available in 2003 for the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupe: a supercharged V-8 in the CL55 AMG and a V-12 in the CL600. The CL-Class is basically a two-door equivalent to the German automakers high-end S-Class sedan.
Three versions of the rear-wheel-drive CL-Class coupe are available. The CL500 has a 302-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine, while the CL600 uses a 493-hp, turbocharged 5.5-liter V-12. A supercharged V-8, which also delivers 493 hp, powers the high-performance CL55 AMG.
For 2004, the CL500 gets a seven-speed-automatic transmission, which replaces the prior five-speed unit. A DVD navigation system and MP3 player have been added, and 18-inch wheels can be installed. The optional Keyless Go system is integrated into the Smart Key.
Distronic Adaptive Cruise Control and Parktronic parking assist are optional features. The radar-based Distronic system adjusts speed automatically to maintain a preset distance behind the vehicle ahead.
The coupes styling themes echo the appearance of the S-Class sedan. The automaker claims that the CL-Class recalls the glorious Mercedes coupes of the past. Flowing fenders, four oval headlights, a wraparound back window and a smaller sloped grille that displays the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star emblem help give the CL-Class a personality all of its own. Befitting its lofty-performance status, the CL55 AMG coupe has aerodynamic body trim, a firmer-than-usual suspension and 18-inch wheels.
All CL-Class coupes have Active Body Control, which is an active suspension that continuously adjusts firmness to eliminate body roll and pitch during cornering, acceleration and braking. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights include heated wipers and washers. A power moonroof is standard.
Unlike Mercedes-Benz sedans that seat five people, the CL-Class coupes contain bucketlike rear seats and accommodate four occupants. The CL600 has unique Nappa leather upholstery and either burl walnut or chestnut interior trim.
A standard satellite-based navigation system has a touchscreen integrated into the dashboard. An SOS button is available for automatic emergency calling and is tied to the Tele Aid system, which also offers such services as travel reservations and sports and entertainment ticket purchases. Voice-activation operates the Bose audio system.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available in CL-Class coupes. A 302-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 goes into the CL500. The CL600 employs a turbocharged 5.5-liter V-12 that generates 493 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque. A 493-hp, supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 powers the potent CL55 AMG, which is billed as the performance showcase. The CL500 has a new seven-speed-automatic transmission. The CL600 retains a five-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission, and the CL55 AMG is equipped with a five-speed SpeedShift automatic. Both the Touch Shift and SpeedShift versions permit manually selected gear changes when desired.
Door-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats, curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the side windows, and side-impact airbags that protect the torsos of backseat occupants are standard. The front passengers airbag deploys at one of two levels depending on the degree of impact. Antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are also standard.