Find a car review

Make
Model

Mercedes CL65

AMG’s new £150K, 603bhp, biturbo V12 flagship forged from the already mighty Mercedes CL65

Price
from £149,565
  • Incredibly quick on the straights
  • Price, mpg, speed limits

The Mercedes-Benz CL500 costs £79,652. It has 383bhp and does 0-62mph in 5.5sec. It’s no sports car, but it is refined, composed, fast and cosseting. If you want an imposing, majestic coupe then the CL500 is all the car you could ever need. I like it. This, however, is the CL65 AMG. It costs £149,565 and has 603bhp. It weighs over two tons and yet can warp to 62mph from rest in 4.4sec. And then it really starts to move. Nought to 124mph takes 13.3sec, which is bang-on 911 Turbo pace. I know I shouldn’t, but I love this car.

AMG has launched so many 500 or 600bhp cars in the past few years that it’s easy to get blasé about those numbers. I’ve been guilty of it myself; even as I jumped into the CL I felt rather disinterested, almost bored before I’d experienced it. Wafting through an American cityscape, isolated and in the kind of insipid luxury that is unique to big German cars, I hardly cared if I drove it another yard.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

And then I opened the 6-litre twin-turbo V12’s taps and the CL65 slapped me around the face with a shocking reminder of what 603bhp and 737lb ft actually means. It means that two tons becomes irrelevant, it means that time and space are elastic concepts rather than hard and fast rules, it means that for once you thank the gods of ESP for keeping you on the road. It means you’re going to have a good time.

Ludicrous is perhaps the best way to describe the CL65’s performance. Ludicrous and wonderful. And when you’ve thrown off your prejudices about the huge coupe, you begin to realise that the lunatic engine, although the main event, is far from the only attraction. The steering is light and lacks real textural feedback, but the front wheels respond to your demands with a nice linearity and the CL really bites into corners.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Select the ‘Sport’ mode for the Active Body Control suspension (simultaneously cutting the gearshift speed by 30 per cent) and the CL’s body control is surreal. There’s minuscule roll, no dive under braking and even the huge torque of the engine fails to upset the coupe’s equilibrium. The ride is excellent, too.

The CL makes do with just five ratios for its automatic gearbox (the CL63 AMG has seven), but the shift is wonderfully smooth in both auto or when manually operated via the steering-wheel mounted shifters, and there’s so much power that there’s never any question of a hole in the delivery. In fact the power is immense, the rear tyres often at a loss as to what to do with all the torque, yellow ESP triangle flashing on the dash, the sound of fleeting stabs of wheelspin fizzing through to the leather-lined interior.

It would be easy to make a damning indictment of the CL65 AMG. It’s too fast for the road (unless you happen to have miles of derestricted autobahn on your doorstep), too heavy and luxurious for the track, and at £149,565 it is hugely expensive. The CL500 is much easier to justify. Even the 518bhp CL63 AMG – a snip at £103,552 – makes more sense. But if a Bentley Conti GT is too common for you, a puffed-up SUV too offensive and a supercar just too much hassle, then the bombastic, serene CL65 AMG might just tick all the boxes.

Specifications

EngineV12, 5980cc, twin turbo
Max power603bhp @ 4800-5100rpm
Max torque737lb ft @ 2000-4000rpm
0-604.4sec (claimed)
Top speed155mph (limited)
On saleNow
Advertisement

Have You Considered

Visit/mercedes/gle/201748/2019-mercedes-gle400d-review-a-worthy-original
Mercedes GLE

2019 Mercedes GLE400d review – a worthy original

12 Sep 2019
Visit/porsche/porsche-911-carrera-4/201744/2019-porsche-911-carrera-4-and-carrera-4-cabriolet-detailed
Porsche 911 Carrera 4

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet detailed

12 Sep 2019
Visit/mercedes/201726/mercedes-amg-electric-car-to-target-porsche-taycan-and-tesla-model-s
Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG electric car to target Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S

10 Sep 2019
Visit/volkswagen/18328/2020-volkswagen-id3-revealed-vws-electric-revolution-is-here
Volkswagen

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 revealed - VW’s electric revolution is here

9 May 2019

Most Popular

Visit/spy-shots/201770/porsche-cayman-gt4-rs-spied-718-to-receive-rennsport-treatment
spy shots

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS spied – 718 to receive Rennsport treatment

More power, more aero and less weight are already on the cards for Stuttgart’s fastest Cayman
19 Sep 2019
Visit/volkswagen/golf/21122/volkswagen-golf-mk8-spied-near-free-of-camouflage-before-october-debut
Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 spied near-free of camouflage before October debut

All-new eighth-generation Golf is only weeks away from its reveal – this is all you need to know.
18 Sep 2019
Visit/mclaren/201759/new-mclaren-gt-review-woking-muscles-in-on-aston-martins-home-ground
McLaren

New McLaren GT review – Woking muscles-in on Aston Martin’s home ground

Is McLaren’s first grand tourer just a toned-down supercar, or something more nuanced and special?
17 Sep 2019
Visit/features/22872/goodyear-eagle-f1-supersport-the-toughest-test-advertisement-feature
Advertisement Feature

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport (advertisement feature)

We went to Bedford Autodrome to find out what evo readers think of Goodyear’s new Eagle F1 SuperSport Ultra Ultra High Performance tyres
10 Jul 2019