The CLS 63’s imposing looks wrap around a beautifully crafted interior – but it’s the performance and handling of this spectacular 525bhp muscle car that stand out. It’s the best roadgoing model AMG has ever produced, and feels effortlessly fast and stable. Fuel consumption has also been improved; AMG claims the new twin-turbo is 30 per cent more economical than the firm’s naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V8.
“This,” says AMG’s boss Ola Källenius, “is our company’s
most important new car.” A big billing indeed for a model that comes hot on the heels of the brilliant gullwing SLS.
But as it’s powered by the Mercedes tuning division’s new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine, and has the latest chassis and gearbox technology, it’s easy to see what’s riding on a successful launch. The newcomer sets a template for AMG’s future plans.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Mercedes CLS
The firm is promising a
greater focus on behind-the-wheel appeal. Källenius adds: “AMG is all about the driving experience. Our products are
not pieces of jewellery.”
Has the company delivered? The answer is yes. The CLS 63
is AMG’s best driver’s car yet.
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Straight-line performance is incredible, the looks brutal and the engine note distinctive. But most importantly, the model’s
suspension and steering combine to offer a driving experience that feels as rewarding around town as it does on the open road.
In standard trim, the hand-built engine offers 525bhp and 700Nm of torque. It’s also available with
a performance pack that boosts output to 557bhp and 800Nm.
Smooth and potent, the V8 feels refined right the way through its 6,500rpm rev range. It sounds great, too, with a deep exhaust note that crackles and pops as you lift off the throttle. Stop-start is standard, helping to save fuel.
AMG’s seven-speed gearbox also impresses, offering fast changes and evenly spaced ratios that make the most of the power
on offer. On the motorway, the performance means overtaking is easy.
And while the electronically controlled suspension is firm,
it’s not uncomfortable and
irons out big bumps.
On more challenging, winding roads, the CLS’s ability to absorb imperfections helps to provide supreme mid-corner stability.
Of course, with so much power on offer, it’s easy to spin up the rear wheels on the way out of
corners, causing the traction
control system to momentarily take hold of the throttle and
stop the car sliding sideways.
For really keen drivers, a host
of buttons on the centre console will help fine-tune the handling further. The steering and gearbox have Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings, while another
button adjusts the stiffness of
the suspension. With everything turned up to the maximum, the CLS feels ready for the race track, offering more steering feedback and quicker gearchanges.
The brakes are impressive,
too, particularly if you choose
the optional carbon ceramic discs. Fade-free and powerful, they quickly scrub off speed.
But the real star quality of the CLS is the breadth of its appeal. If this car shines a light on AMG’s future, we can’t wait to get our hands on what’s coming next.
Rival: Audi RS7
Upcoming supercoupé will deliver big thrills from a rumoured 580bhp 5.2-litre V10. Dramatic styling will make it even more in-your-face than the CLS.