Quick Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL550

By Winding Road Staff

November 22, 2011

With the Mercedes-Benz CL550, you are getting a 4.6-liter, biturbocharged V-8 with 429 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque, and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds. The CL63 AMG delivers 536 horsepower, 590 pound-feet of torque, and a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds.
The thing is, the CL550 starts at $114,100, while the AMG version starts at $150,250. That’s a discrepancy of $36,150. And after driving both cars, I can’t understand why anyone would spend the extra coin on the AMG.
Sure, you get the big, brawny engine of the AMG with a great exhaust note, and you get some sporty touches, and whatnot, but really, it’s not $36,000 worth of car. The CL550 is almost as quick to 60, delivers a smoother ride, can be had with all of the same luxury touches, and with the Sport Package found on our tester, it looks enough like a CL63 AMG to fool all but the most hardened Mercedes aficionados.
I really like AMG products, but this is a case where I have to lean towards the standard vehicle.
—Brandon Turkus, Test Fleet Manager
I absolutely love the amount of luxury build into this car. It starts with materials; I can’t help but run my hand across the leather, microsuede, polished wood, and metal throughout the cabin. I can get a massage while I drive, and have no trouble finding a very comfortable seating position. The backup camera and blind-spot assists make navigating crowded roads and parking lots less stressful. I even found myself playing with the Night View Assist, which has a high-quality display.
The car is also good to drive. It feels really stable, and has no trouble getting up to high cruising speeds and staying there. The cabin is very quiet, and the engine only intrudes on the sonic experience when being pushed, and it sounds great. The car is pretty quick and precise with its responses from steering, brakes, and accelerator, but it remains pretty isolated.
The biggest selling point for me, though, is the appearance. It’s a very handsome vehicle, with sleek, sporty profile. All the lines look good to me. It’s a car that people definitely notice, as it stands out quite a bit from the crowd.
—John Beltz Snyder, Production Editor
Super supple ride, even over rough stuff
Downright affordable compared to other big GTs
Very comfortable interior with lots of nice materials
Ride is comfy, but pretty uncommunicative
Front and rear visibility isn’t perfect
Not much sound from engine/exhaust