Mercedes CL-Class review

Our Rating: 
2006 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Luxury Mercedes CL is a two-door coupe that's based on the S-Class limo, so it offers supreme comfort rather than sharp handling

Luxury cabin, spacious for a coupe, AMG performance
Sheer size, running costs, depreciation

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The luxurious Mercedes CL is a two-door coupe that’s based on the Mercedes S-Class. As a result, it’s more of a high-class grand tourer than a pure sports car: if that’s what you’re after, the Mercedes SL is a better choice. Instead, the CL majors on transporting four in absolute comfort, thanks to its air-suspension and premium interior. However, even the basic CL 500 costs more than £90,000, while the two AMG versions are priced to compete with cars such as the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9, and at this price level the Mercedes badge doesn't quite have the same cachet as its luxury branded rivals.

Our choice: Mercedes CL 63 AMG

Engines, performance and drive


The Mercedes CL is designed to be a luxury cruiser, and it performs impeccably at this task. The CL 500 is smooth and whisper quiet at motorway speeds, and its air-suspension soaks up every bump in the road. The AMG versions get a sportier set-up, but they’re still very comfortable. The CL 63 AMG has a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8, and is tuned to be more entertaining in corners, while the CL 65 AMG has a twin-turbo V12, which delivers huge performance. All cars come with smooth-shifting automatic gearboxes – the CL 500 and CL 63 use a seven-speed, the CL 65 has a five-speed.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


With a price tag in excess of £90,000, the standard CL is very expensive. You do get a lot of kit, such as heated electric memory seats and self-closing doors. Go for an AMG model and you’ll also get massage seats, sports pedals and steering wheel, sports suspension and more. However, prices rise to more than £110,000 for the CL 63 AMG and around £125,000 for the CL 65 AMG. Stop-start is standard on the CL 500 and CL 63, but they still only return 29.4mpg and 26.9mpg respectively. The CL 65 AMG only returns 19.8mpg. Whichever one you choose, you can expect steep depreciation, as the Mercedes badge doesn’t quite have the same prestige as other cars in this price bracket.

Interior, design and technology


There’s no avoiding the fact that the Mercedes CL is simply massive. It’s shorter than a Mercedes S-Class, but is still over five metres long. It looks best from the side and rear, as the low roof and curved tail-lights look smart. Up front, the CL 500 is oddly proportioned, with a bulbous nose. AMG versions are helped by their large mesh grilles and deep front spoilers. Inside, the CL is a luxurious and spacious four-seater with lots of hi-tech kit.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


There’s plenty of room in the Mercedes CL, even with the low roofline. Passengers front and rear get plenty of head and legroom, while passengers up front can be treated to massage seats and a full premium stereo with TV and DVD player if buyers raid the options list. The boot is 490 litres, which is pretty big, but if you’re planning on transporting passengers and luggage, you’re more likely to be looking at a Mercedes S-Class in the first place.

Reliability and Safety


The Mercedes CL hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but it comes with a long list of safety kit. Active braking with hill-hold, a driver alertness monitor, stability and skid control, tyre pressure monitors and a pre-crash safety system are all standard. AMG models also add responsive fade-free carbon ceramic brake discs. As the CL is Mercedes’ flagship grand tourer, it’s built to a high standard, while the engines in the AMG models are hand-built. Servicing will be expensive, though.

Last updated: 6 May, 2012