- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 29 February 2012 12:50, Updated 22 November 2012 08:32
Crack a bottle of your favourite vintage of Grange, turn on some mood music and settle down to read the 614 pages of manual that comes with the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG.
Trust me, it will be time well spent.
There’s a lot happening in the cockpit of this car – there are more buttons than a sock puppet convention.
Mind you, there needs to be plenty of driver options, simply because anyone who pays $360,000-plus to get a car on the road needs to feel in control.
The CLS 63 AMG is a brute – it gets from 0 to 100km/h in a blistering 4.4 seconds – but it’s an iron fist in a velvet glove. The comforts, as you would expect from Mercedes-Benz, are sublime.
My favourite luxuries are the nappa leather front seats. They are heated, cooled, can be adjusted a myriad of ways and can give you a good strong back massage. The bolsters on each side of the front seats can be set to move into you during cornering, holding you in a comforting embrace against the G forces.
That’s necessary because the new Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach (you always wanted to know what AMG stood for, didn’t you . . . ) 5.5 litre V8 twin-turbo engine with the performance pack can put out up to 410kW (550hp) of power and 800Nm of torque.
It flies, and it does it with class and aplomb. In twisty stuff there’s no drama and although its size does stop it feeling light and nimble, it’s incredibly easy to scythe through corners and it holds on like a much smaller, lighter sports car.
The electrically assisted steering is simply awesome and you can fly around bends at speed with absolute ease.
All the while the CLS growls and barks like only a finely tuned big V8 can. Its addictive song turns grown men’s knees to jelly and it’s a constant joy to open the windows and sun roof, just to hear it roar with every touch of the loud pedal.
Like an artist, the engine maker has signed his work on the carbon fibre engine cover. Whether you see this as a piece of graffiti, a classy touch or the bloke to blame if things go wrong probably says a lot about you as a person (or a lawyer in the last instance).
Incredibly for such a big, powerful engine, the fuel economy is outstanding, with a combined figure of 10l/100km in the comfort setting, which is the tootle around town softly option, while using the stop-go technology where the engine switches itself off when you stop and on again when you lift your foot off the brake. The claimed combined CO2 figure is 233g/km.
Of course, driving it the fun modes – sport, sport-plus and manual – is more expensive but then why have a performance car and drive it like a Prius? In fact, to push the point, it has a race start function, with a race timer.
The paddles on the steering wheel let you handle the seven-speed gearbox yourself but this is a car with far more potential than 99 per cent of the population’s ability to exploit it.
Thankfully there’s little need to go manual as the CLS is magnificently smooth and lightening fast through the gear changes by itself. It even does a throttle blip to keep the revs up during the change.
An interesting feature is you can set the CLS to keep pace with the car in front, with the car controlling its speed and braking so you can take your feet off the pedals altogether and just steer. That can be unnerving at first but it works marvellously well, even in traffic.
It also has a night view assist option and active parking assist.
Inside, the cabin is beautiful and the build quality is outstanding, with every surface covered in leather. It’s fun to just stroke the soft suede on the roof and on two sections of the steering wheel.
With seating for only four, there’s plenty of room for everyone. It has a six-disc CD/DVD changer and TV is available on the screen in the centre of the dash, although it’s not a touch screen.
Call me stupid and dip my head in batter, but I can’t work out why both Mercedes-Benz and Audi don’t have touch screens. They risk appearing increasingly old-fashioned and behind the technology curve.
The CLS 63 AMG also offers iPod connectivity but only has an slot for a PC card, not a USB. It also has a foot-operated park brake, which is a bit strange in an otherwise technology packed vehicle.
Those little niggles aside, this is an outstanding vehicle and just may be one of Mercedes-Benz’s best ever big cars and its outstanding looks will ensure it becomes a classic.