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In-depth reviews

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG (2011-2017) review

The Mercedes CLS 63 AMG adds a healthy dose of performance to one of most desirable saloons money can buy

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Menacing looks, exquisite cabin, incredible performance
  • Limited practicality, high running costs, thirsty engine
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The original Mercedes CLS was class changing. It invented a niche that has since been imitated by the Audi A7 and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. The flagship of the range is the CLS 63 AMG. It's an extremely capable car, and the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet attempts to mix a dynamic drive with relative frugality. The CLS 63 AMG truly is truly breathtaking piece of machinery, as it has the handling to back up the engine's straight-line performance.

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Our choice: CLS 63 AMG

Engines, performance and drive

Lesser CLS models are renowned for their comfort and refinement, but the AMG model is a very different beast. With 700Nm of torque the 5.5-litre biturbo V8 delivers astonishing performance and a fantastic soundtrack. It blasts from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. The seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT transmission smooths changes around town but with four modes available for the engine and gearbox, faster changes are available at the press of a button. The adjustable suspension also provides decent comfort without compromising handling, as the CLS is incredibly agile for such a big and heavy machine.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

You don't buy an AMG model for its affordability, and the CLS 63 is no exception, as its astronomical price will be matched by high running costs. Still, the latest model is cleaner and more efficient than before and even features stop-start technology to help cut fuel consumption. Claimed economy of 28.5mpg isn't bad considering the performance on offer, but if you dip into those deep reserves of power expect to see returns of nearer 15mpg. Resale values of nearly 50 per cent are pretty good, but that still means hefty depreciation simply because of the car's high list price.

Interior, design and technology

The mix of sweeping curves and bold creases that identify the standard Mercedes CLS are given even more muscle by a range of AMG styling additions. Five-spoke 19-inch alloys, LED headlamps and a rear spoiler are the obvious changes, but look closely and the CLS 63 AMG also features more defined creases on its bonnet, entirely different front and rear bumpers and sporty side skirts. The impeccably built interior is as stylish as the exterior, and it lives up to its coupe billing with expensive materials and supportive seats.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The Mercedes CLS is no practical family holdall, but it's not as compromised as a two-door coupe either. There's only room for a pair of passengers in the back as the CLS is a strict four-seater but the saloon body makes carrying extra people a doddle. There's also a spacious 520-litre boot. Folding rear seats are an optional extra but, if you can afford to run one of these cars, you'll probably have something more sensible for trips to the DIY shop. Or be able pay someone else to haul stuff around for you.

Reliability and Safety

The CLS hasn't been through a Euro NCAP test, but the 63 AMG comes with raft of standard safety measures including Attention Assist and active head restraints. The optional Driving Assistance package adds Active Blindspot Assist, Lane Keep Assist and radar-operated cruise control. The Mercedes CLS feels solidly built, and our Driver Power survey results echo this impression, as Mercedes is an established presence in the top 10 of our manufacturer overall ratings. The Mercedes Mobilo scheme is unique and offers breakdown cover for up to 30 years if you continue to have your car serviced by a franchised Mercedes dealer.

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