Another fast Merc? What makes this one special?
This is the new CLS63, using the all-new 6208cc V8 already fitted to the CLK and E-class and rolling out across the Benz line-up. It replaces the supercharged 5.4-litre CLS55 AMG, which with 469bhp was hardly slothful.
It looks like the CLS350 Piers Morgan runs for CAR Magazine. It can't be that quick…
It can. The German buyers don't like huge spoilers, scoops and other adornments that have precious little effect on the car's dynamics. Besides, the CLS looks outrageous enough without the Max Power treatment. There are changes, though. The wheels are big to accommodate larger brake discs, the front air dam is wider to provide more cooling. Form follows function. Underneath the CLS63 is anything but subtle. That mighty V8 is an act of God. It produces 514bhp at 6100rpm and a whopping 465lb ft of torque. That's more than a Lamborghini Gallardo. All this is channelled through monster 285/35 R18 rubber and a seven-speed auto gearbox.
What'll she do mister?
On dry surfaces the CLS will break 4.5secs to 62mph. Top speed is limited to 155mph. The engine is superbly refined, it's practically inaudible until you really hoof it. At which point it awakens and delivers an aural masterpiece - a mix of huge induction noise, overlaid by the V8 throb which gets increasingly aggressive as the redline approaches. Brilliant. There's a flipside. Although the V8 is very powerful it's also very heavy. All that weight over the front axle has a negative effect on the handling. The CLS might be more wieldy than an E-Class but it still struggles to take twisty roads with conviction. The adjustable damping copes well on fast autobahns, the suspension cossets but manage to keep the CLS in check despite ferocious speeds and sudden lane changes. The steering is less precise. There's just not enough feeling through the wheel and at low speeds it's over-assisted.
So it's good for…
Covering massive miles will little effort. You can sit back, rely on the torque and blow anything short of a 911 Turbo into the weeds. Thanks to that swoopy shape the CLS cuts through the air with little resistance, leading to a reasonable 19.5mpg on the combined cycle. The 'is it a coupe or is it a saloon?' debate rumbles on but the CLS is still a striking departure from a traditional saloon. There isn't much room and the dashboard appears to be shrinking into the windscreen but at least it's exciting.
Want your interior fitted with night vision goggles or the paintwork dusted in gold? AMG's new Performance Studio will be more than happy to oblige. The new studio is home to the CLK and SLK F1 pace cars and the starting point for buyers who find the standard (and extensive) options list a little restrictive. You can have the limiter lifted off your CLS63, opt for an Ostrich skin interior, stretch it, shorten it or even tune it. Anything you want (within reason) and AMG can deliver the car to your exacting specifications. But that kind of customisation doesn't come cheap.
Hugely quick and accomplished straight-line machine that will shrink continents and your bank balance with equal ease. Just don't expect it to go, stop, corner or excite like a BMW M5.