29 September 2006
Merc CL rear
|Prices:|| £79,550-£106,995 (est.)|
|Rival:|| Jaguar XKR|
Justifying the cost of running the new Mercedes CL coupe is now even harder because prices have jumped by 7.9% for the CL500 and some 9.1% for the full fat CL600.
Those are significant rises in anyone's book, even for the people most likely to be interested in buying a CL - the holders of the company purse strings.
Throw in the fact the car will face a far more crowded market than its predecessor by the time it goes on sale in the UK in March next year, meaning that those who find £80,000-plus coupes on their options list will be spoilt for choice, and one has to ask: why choose the CL?
Mercedes says its flagship coupe now has more standard equipment, more power, greater refinement and a more sporting drive. And they're right. There's more standard kit, both on the luxury and safety fronts, and there's no denying that the engines deliver considerably more urge than before. The CL500 is set to be the best seller of the range and it has 388PS compared to the previous model's 306PS. That's enough to lift performance to another level, knocking off 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds.
The gains for the twin-turbo 5.5-litre V12 are less pronounced, but this 517PS monster has supercar performance and manages 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds. However, we struggle to see how Mercedes charges £27,445 more for what is basically the same car with a more potent engine, even if it can reel in the horizon as if it's on elastic.
Both the CL500 and CL600 are quiet on the move and handle nimbly for such large coupes. They're not quite as agile as a BMW 6-series, and the Merc coupe never sheds its size the way some rivals do. But, on long journeys, the car looks after you like few others thanks to a ride that pummels imperfections into submission. The seats are impressively comfortable and there's sufficient space in the rear for a couple of larger children. The boot is a decent size too.
We'd take the CL500 for its more affordable costs. It manages 23.3mpg and 288g/km compared to the 600's 19.8mpg and 340g/km.
Mercedes says CL buyers are a loyal bunch and simply swap from one to another. The new CL will not disappoint these customers, and should prove very tempting for those who have not owned one before too.