Quick Drive: 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

By Brandon Turkus

December 31, 2012

—Lake Orion, Michigan
Some cars just fail to make impressions on us. It’s not all that uncommon. Through some conspiracy of dull looks or lackluster performance or a middling interior, occasionally we just don’t have much to say. The Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG is the complete opposite.
This is a car that makes big impressions on its driver, passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Its cyborg looks demand attention, particularly when optioned with the full LED headlight treatment. With ribbons of bluish-white light spread across the almond-shaped headlamps, it looks positively futuristic. Combined with a low, wide grille, a swoop-then-plunge roofline, and a pair of evocatively styled LED taillights, it cuts a dashing figure down the road.
[Click here to read our review of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550]
For its lucky driver, the CLS63 AMG makes an even bigger impression. This is a rocket of a vehicle, easily capable of shoving its driver and three friends into the backs of its cushy, leather-lined sport seats. There’s little to no turbo lag from the 5.5-liter, biturbocharged V-8, only a broad, seemingly never-ending level of power. It’s one of the few cars that has the starship performance to match its starship looks.
Part of the joy of an AMG is the sound its V-8 engine emits. The CLS is no exception, delivering a brash bellow of an exhaust note that catches the ear of anyone within earshot. Don’t believe us? Watch this video from the last year, which features our first drive of the then-new CLS63. It sounds absolutely marvelous regardless of whether you’re the lucky driver or the just the pedestrian walking by.
Perhaps the area that doesn’t get enough press when talking about products from AMG is the level of comfort. To be fair, the CLS is not a smooth riding vehicle, even when the suspension is at its softest setting. The 63’s sporting credentials demand a certain compromise, we suppose.
What remains uncompromised, though, is the fit and finish of the cabin. The materials chosen by the team in Stuttgart are top of the line. The soft leather on the seats is welcoming and certainly befitting of a luxury sedan, while the few bits of plastic in the cabin are as inoffensive as they come. The shifter is finished in real metal, and the padded, flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel is still one of the nicest on the market.
The CLS63 AMG is not a cheap vehicle, with a starting price of $95,900. Adding the must-have AMG Performance Pack (horsepower is bumped from 516 to 550 while torque jumps from 518 to 590, sport suspension, and AMG steering wheel) will tack $7300 on to that, meaning there’s no way into the best CLS63 for under $100K. There are a lot of other options available to personalize your CLS (we’d strongly recommend the Premium 1 Package, found on our tester, along with the carbon-ceramic brakes), but we’d be quite happy with just the Performance Pack.
The Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG remains a sort of do-it-all car: it’s exceptionally sporty, luxurious, and astoundingly pretty. It’s an expensive proposition, and we’d have a hard time taking it over the cheaper Cadillac CTS-V or even an E63 AMG, but if you want style and performance, there are few cars that strike the CLS63’s balance.
2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
Engine: Biturbocharged V-8, 5.5 liters, 32v
Output: 550 hp/590 lb-ft
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 16/25 mpg
Curb Weight: 4277 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.3 sec
Top Speed: 186 mph

Base Price: $95,900