Mercedes CL63 AMG

The latest Mercedes AMG is a variant of the Bentley Continental-rivalling CL63. Does a two-tonne sports saloon make sense?

It seems it’s all about quantity at Mercedes right now. While BMW has only four M cars and Audi two RS models, there is a choice of 14 AMG Mercs.

The latest to arrive is this: the CL63 AMG. The standard CL is an extremely capable cruiser – hugely refined, luxurious, sophisticated and smooth, it’s a convincing alternative to the Bentley Continental GT. So adding an aggressive AMG edge doesn’t make much sense.

Still, it has visual impact and, from many angles, the AMG is mean and menacing. The 6.2-litre V8 unit is impressive; more flexible and tuneful than the BMW M5 Touring’s 5.0-litre V10, and just as potent. Straight-line speed is amazing – and it’s shifting more than two tonnes.

So it looks good and goes hard. But unless you’re on a smooth surface, the CL63 struggles to find traction, with its stability control warning light flashing almost continually. It’s far from relaxing, and a real handful in the wet or on country lanes. And those huge dimensions make the hefty Merc feel out of place on UK roads.

On the test track, its kerbweight became even more of a burden. Although roll was kept in check by the Active Body Control system, we were always conscious of the CL’s sheer mass. It didn’t like changing direction, the steering failed to keep the driver informed and, although the vast brakes were undeniably strong, feedback was lacking.

Even the gearbox, usually a Mercedes forté, refused to play ball. After a couple of laps, warning lights flashed up all over the dash.

While it’s technically advanced, this CL63 is proof that AMG needs to rethink its strategy and develop cars that are fun to drive round corners, not only in a straight line.

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