BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
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 Mon, Aug 2, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Harvey Schwartz Not known for introducing niche vehicles, in 2006 Mercedes-Benz introduced the first CLS model—an eye-catching vehicle that blurred the line between coupe and sedan. This sexy coupe-like sedan boasts the comfort and convenience of four doors and features a high-tension convex curve to its body shape as part of its sensuous exterior lines. The bold, low front end of the CLS is complemented by two-lamella chrome grille bars, and tasteful mesh to protect the engine bay from debris. The lower air intake, also covered by tasteful mesh, side brake ducts, and foglamps, continue the aggressive looks, while the contoured outside mirrors incorporate arrow-shaped turn signals. Eye-catching, wheel-well stuffing, AMG designed,19X9 front, and 19X10 rear, forged alloy wheels wear ultra-high-performance tires emphasizing the car’s powerful low and wide stance. The shortened, curved greenhouse glass is surrounded with a chrome strip to give it a luxury cue, and the lower side extensions give it a more ground-hugging look. The trunk follows the convex curve from the rear glass and features a spoiler to increase downforce. The bold rear bumper has trapezoidal dual chrome exhaust tips extending out, and wraparound, arrow-shaped LED taillights complete the cars total aggressive look.
While Porsche has come out with the 2010 Panamera sedan and Aston-Martin has just introduced the Rapide, both four-door sedans, the CLS 6.3 AMG is still the sexiest and most beautiful sedan on the road. Open the doors and you’ll see that the stylish contours of the CLS continue throughout the interior which is complemented by an abundance of leather, wood and chrome. The doors show frameless glass adding a sporty look, as does the double polished stainless steel door kick plates. More sporty cues are seen with the AMG designed 3-spoke, leather-wrapped/power tilt/telescoping flat-bottom steering wheel which feels so good in your hands. Further carrying on the sporty look are the aluminum/rubber facet foot pedals and three-chronometer-type gauge cluster with a center 200 mph speedometer and 8,000 rpm tachometer. At each side are unique, LED bar graphs in white with silver backgrounds showing fuel on board and engine coolant temperature. A monitoring system shows individual tire pressures as well as other important information about the status of the car via warnings in the instrument cluster. The dashboard shelf is covered with hand-cut and sewn leather as well as around the center stack, center console and door trim for that special luxury touch. The dashboard face is entirely covered by a big slab high gloss laurel wood trim that runs around the instrument cluster. Chrome rings surround the center and side air outlets, door switch plates, instrument cluster, shifter bezel, round dials and control buttons.
The CLS 6.3 AMG comes with four-zone climate control regulating temperature separately for each front and rear seat, with a separate digital control panel in the rear for setting the desired temperature and adjusting airflow. The rear also has a wood covered storage bin, cupholder and pull-down armrest with dual cupholders and storage. The 10-way, leather trimmed sport bucket seats are outstanding with separate controls for heating/ventilation, side bolster adjustment and massage to keep you alert on long drives. A large COMMAND central display on the center stack incorporates Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone operation, an in-dash six-disc CD/DVD player and voice control of audio and phone. The color display screen uses one set of easy-to-use controls for the audio system, including AM-FM-Weather Band and CD, standard HD radio, GPS navigation and SIRIUS satellite radio with real-time traffic data. A standard Harman/Kardon Logic 7 digital surround sound system provides a luxurious listening experience. The system converts every conventional stereo signal from the radio, and CD/DVD player into surround sound with seven output channels, offering audio perfection for passengers, regardless of where they may be sitting. The sound system includes a digital signal processor, has a total output of 510 watts and plays through 12 high-end speakers, including two speakers on the rear parcel shelf that produce the surround sound effect. The system even adjusts volume automatically to compensate for ambient driving noise.
The beauty of the exterior design and the sporty and luxurious interior is contrasted with the beast that lies under the skin of the CLS 6.3 AMG. The car is powered by one of the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8s ever, also the first engine developed entirely by AMG. One engine builder puts the engine together and it is built almost completely from a high-strength silicon-aluminum alloy, the 6.3 liter features four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, bucket tappets (rather than rocker arms), and 11.3:1 compression ratio and a variable intake manifold. AMG engineers designed the 6.3 liter engine block with an especially rigid bedplate with cast-in steel reinforcements at the main bearing, and a sturdy closed-deck layout beside the cylinder heads. Cylinder bores feature a twin-wire-arc-sprayed (TWAS) coating, an innovative process that results in impressively low friction and running surfaces that are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinders. Sharing no parts with other Mercedes-Benz V8 engines, the 6.3 AMG engine revs freely to over 7,000 rpm, yet produces nearly 90 percent of its peak torque at only 2,000 rpm. The engine generates 507 horepower at 6,800 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm, enabling the CLS 6.3 AMG to jet out to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.3 seconds. The beast I speak of is the incredible muffled roar of the engine when you push the start button on top of the stick shifter, and the increase in roar, like a lion, as you continue to push on the throttle and quickly gain speed to high triple digits.
All of the power and torque is transferred to the rear wheels via a seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission that can be shifted manually by either pushing left or right on the stick to upshift or downshift, or Formula-1 style aluminum shift paddles on the AMG sport steering wheel. To give performance-minded drivers more control, its manual mode doesn’t make any automatic upshifts-even at max engine speed-or automatic downshifts, even under full load. AMG Speedshift provides 35% faster gear shifts and torque convertor lockup from 1st. gear. It is fun and exciting to use either one, depending on your time and place. AMG engineers developed a sports suspension for the CLS 6.3 AMG that’s based on the standard Mercedes-Benz AIRMATIC air suspension. The AMG-tuned AIRMATIC includes automatic level control that maintains ride height even when the car is loaded, and you can choose from three-sport-sport+-comfort, settings as well. For flatter cornering, the air springs, shocks and stabilizer bars are stiffer than on the CLS 550. Speed-sensitive power rack & pinion steering ensures low steering effort for low speed maneuvers such as parallel parking, but automatically reduces the steering assist above 60 mph to provide good road feel. To help handle all the power, the ESP system can apply the brakes on just one wheel to transfer torque to the wheels with better traction, achieving much the same effect as a limited-slip differential. You can of course shut the ESP system down to let the rear slide out during entry into a steep curve, then stomp on the throttle as you exit. Stronger driveshafts, heavy-duty rear suspension components and a stronger differential housing with cooling fins complete the package. The suspension is very neutral and responsive to your inputs the way you would want a supercar to react.
To make the ride even more enjoyable and exciting to the enthusiast, you can order the optional AMG Performance Package that my test vehicle came with. It allows a 186 mph top speed instead of the usual 155 mph speed limiter, AMG track-calibrated AIRMATIC sport suspension with stiffer spring rates, 19X8.5 front and 19X9.5 rear AMG designed, forged alloy wheels wrapped with Pirelli P Zero high-performance, low-profile tires, 255/35ZR19 up front, and 285/30ZR19 tires in the rear, and a limited-slip rear differential to put all of the power down on the pavement. The package also includes giant brakes to make sure that the CLS 6.3 AMG stops as fast as it goes. Giant 15.4-inch two-piece construction, ventilated brake discs up front are punched and slotted and clamped with 6-piston calipers, while the rear ventilated discs are punched, measure 13 inches and are clamped with 4-piston calipers. ABS and Brake Assist assure control during severe braking maneuvers. The CLS 6.3 AMG has it all to make your ride more enjoyable inside, at speed on the highway or when attacking curving roads. Standard safety features include Mercedes-Benz Tele Aid system, steel reinforced cabin with front and rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, three-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters for all four seating positions, front dual airbags, front and rear side airbags, front and side window airbags, driver knee airbag, crash-active head restraints, Pre-Safe System, roll-over sensor, anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer, night security illumination, front/rear foglamps, panic button remote key, and emergency trunk release. The new 2010 Mercedes-Benz CLS 6.3 AMG has it all to keep anyone happy behind the wheel with great, sexy and curvaceous styling, a comfortable, sporty, luxurious and high-tech interior, and a beast for an engine, with the ability to tune the suspension the way you want to drive at that given time.
© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz For more information about Mercedes-Benz products, go to mbusa.com To see more of Harvey Schwartz’s photographs, go to autofotos.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2010 Mercedes-Benz CLS 6.3 AMG Price: $97,950.00 base/$114.465.00 loaded, including $2,600.00 gas guzzler tax & destination EPA fuel economy rating: 12 mpg/city, 18 mpg/highway Engine: 6.3 liter, DOHC, sequential fuel injection, electronic throttle control, two-stage resonance intake manifold V8, all aluminum alloy Horsepower: 507 at 6,800 rpm Torque: 465 pound-feet at 5,200 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission: Seven-speed automatic with Touch Shift with AMG Speedshift Plus, Paddle Shifters Front suspension: Independent, Airmatic-computerized air springs and gas shocks with four stage variable damping, double control arms, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, five-link with Airmatic-computerized air springs and gas shocks, stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 19X8.5. front/9.5-inch rear AMG designed light alloy wheels/255/35ZR19 front/285/30ZR19 rear super-high-performance tires Brakes: Front: 15.4-inch vented/punched/slotted discs with six-piston calipers Rear: 13-inch vented/punched discs with four-piston calipers ABS and Brake Assist Length: 193.6 inches Width: mirrors folded-73.7 inches Height: 55.9 inches Curb weight: 4,200 pounds