New Mercedes CL Coupe

Mercedes’ new S-class-based CL coupe will have more to offer keen drivers than its predecessor

Mercedes’ new S-class-based CL coupe will have more to offer keen drivers than its predecessor, according to a company spokesman, despite being larger, more luxurious and better equipped.

Updated, gutsier versions of the V8 and bi-turbo V12 engines from the outgoing model and the adoption of Active Body Control (ABC) suspension are partly responsible for the transformation.

Styled in-house, the CL features pronounced wheelarches that, from the front three-quarters, lend the big coupe a squat, purposeful stance. It's not going to set the world on fire, however. According to the design team, the top end of the car market demands stylish conservatism, while Mercedes’ corporate design culture demands the sort of longevity that a more radical design couldn’t produce.

For the time being, at least, the ‘base’ engine of the CL range is the 5.5-litre V8 producing 383bhp, a 26 per cent increase over the previous-generation unit. The 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12 range-topper has to make do with a modest 17bhp improvement in power, but with 510bhp and 612lb ft of torque you’re unlikely to feel short-changed. The V8-engined CL500 punts to 62mph in 5.4sec, while the CL600’s V12 dispatches the yardstick in 4.6sec. Both have a top speed limited to 155mph.

The CL is awash with sophisticated electronics, from sensors that measure the size of the parking space you’re hoping to reverse into, to seats that massage you on the move. Many of the electronics control safety functions that range from ‘intelligent’ headlights which automatically change their pattern according to the road you’re driving on, to brakes automatically triggered into partial operation to help you avoid running into a car ahead (see separate story, left).

Mercedes has made a big effort to push the CL's interior ambience closer to that offered by Bentley, with fine-quality leather and an abundance of timber. Details such as the silver-coloured switches on the facia spoil the bespoke effect, but nonetheless the CL’s cabin will be a very cosseting place to ride.

The new CL is expected to go on sale towards the end of the year.

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