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ICING ON THE CAKE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Apr 25, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

ICING ON THE CAKE

By JOHN GRAFMAN

In life, most everything is defined by what it is. This system works fine, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Take the Brabus version of the Mercedes CL as an example. This isn't business as usual, by any means. This isn't the normal (albeit beautiful) coupe that Mercedes recently unleashed on America. Also this isn't the heavily modified, 'bahn-burner which Brabus is so well known for. This CL blurs the line between stock and sensational.

The new CL is no slouch in the sport department, in spite of it falling closer in dimensions to an S Class sedan than to a C Class or SL. The Mercedes-Benz factory fresh 550 motor has no trouble convincing anyone behind the wheel that this German can mix it up with the best of them. The base car's 388 stock ponies is already far beyond what just a few years ago was considered exotic car territory. However, a void still remains for those who don't want the CL to be taken lightly. The missing element is an edge of aggressiveness that the stylish coupe seems to fall short on. Fortunately, the team at Brabus has the goods. A simple swipe of the American Express card and 35-40,000 clams along with a Benz is all it takes.

This particular Brabus package tweaks the CL, adding just enough visual cues to get the adrenalin flowing. What it thankfully doesn't provide is an over-the-top look that smacks of someone making up for a deficit in the bedroom. The modifications are made up of several components that visually and physically drop the car down lower, with harder edges and creases to provide a heightened sense of tension. The five-piece body enhancement is comprised of a new front bumper, new rear bumper, side skirts, and a rear lip spoiler. All of these have the fasteners concealed to provide a factory look and feel. The materials are also up to the level of the car, so proper care should ensure that all endure as well as the original equipment.

The design and execution of the body enhancements are up to snuff. The only element looking tired is the screen used on the side skirts. Far too many aftermarket companies have used the metal mesh on way too many products. With all the various types of mesh available, I would be far more impressed if a unique metal was utilized. On the other hand, Brabus out-does itself with the trick lighting under the skirts that operates when the door is unlocked. Projected onto the pavement are circular spots that both facilitate getting into the car without stepping into anything messy, and the illumination has a catwalk familiarity to it. Once the bottom feeding aftermarket mimics this on everything from a Kia to a Yugo, this radiating glow is going to loose its shine. In the meantime, this sizzles.

On the functional side, this offers up mega fat wheels to eradicate any gap space in the wheel wells. The XXL rear tires are massive 285/30ZR21 Michelin Pilot Sport 2s, wrapped around BRABUS Monoblock E 10.5 x 21" wheels in black and silver. The front tires are 245/35ZR21. The size difference with the front won't allow for rotation, and you can expect that these performance tires will cost a few pennies to replace. Brabus understands, but this is about handling, not dollars. So either step up to the plate, or go home.

388 horses are hard to hold back, but the rubber is just what the doctor ordered. The CL feels planted, which for a car of this size is impressive. Let alone, having a pricy car get off track can be an expensive proposition - just ask Eddie Griffin.

Complementing the dynamic styling of the body and wheel combo is a little bit of magic. Actually, Brabus has installed a manual override on the height adjustable pneumatic suspension on the CL. This sport ABC lowering module allows the car to be dropped while parked, or on the fly. So long as there are no speed bumps, potholes, or cats on the road, the Benz should be just fine.

The piece de resistance is the exhaust that adds a clearly noticeable note of confidence. If the added body pieces and wheels don't get the point across, the note from the tail definitively will. The stock audio system inside the CL is top notch, but the sound from the Brabus stainless steel sport exhaust also has perfect bass and volume, and it's capable of provoking the driver to behave in a less than legal manner.

The steering wheel rim is replaced by a Brabus custom part that is fat and provides all kinds of grip points, even for those drivers that are all thumbs. The rim is maybe a tad too racy, and the steering boost from the power steering pump feels too much like a boulevard cruiser - a rather odd match up.

Other details, like the pedal pad replacements and the door lock buttons, round out the package. The interior pieces seem a bit subtle, given the exterior parts. Fortunately, Brabus has a solution for any taste. Its extensive list of parts can modify anything from mildly to extreme, but all are done with the company's dedication to good taste and performance.

I am quickly becoming aware that the Brabus version of the CL is lacking in the subtlety department as well. It appears that virtually everyone notices this saucy coupe wherever it goes. Popularity has its price!

Find out more at www.brabus-usa.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle: 2007 Brabus CL

Price: $35-40,000 + Mercedes-Benz CL

Engine type: 5.5 liter DOHC eight-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder

Horsepower: 388 @ 6,000

Drive configuration: Front engine/rear drive

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