2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG
Short Take Road Test

Like the top-dog S-class sedan on which it's based, the CL-class two-door is now offered in four versions that range from the 382-hp CL550, a luxurious coupe that would seem to offer enough thrills for any reasonable driver, to its evil twin, the thoroughly entertaining, completely irrational, Lohan-grade 604-hp CL65 AMG. Slotted between those amusing extremes are the other two versions of the CL, the CL600 and the CL63 AMG. At first glance, the CL600 and the CL63 seem quite similar—they are priced within $10,000, each has just over 500 horsepower, their weight varies by some 11 pounds, and they post nearly identical performance numbers. Yet the character of each version is actually as different as a CL550 is to a CL65.

Two distinctive engines are what make the two CLs very singular cars. Powering the CL63 AMG is a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V-8 that churns out 518 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. Eminently powerful, the V-8 lives to rev to its 7200-rpm redline and is perfectly matched to the seven-speed automatic. The powertrain thrusts the CL63 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds at 113 mph—numbers that are identical to our CL600 test car's performance.

Since the CL63 is a product of Mercedes-Benz's AMG tuner shop, it gets a full-on Los Angeles-grade body kit, 20-inch wheels on a stiffened and lowered chassis, and a dual exhaust that sounds like ripping hundred-dollar bills at high amplification.

These traits make the CL63 AMG awe inspiring; when it arrived on Hogback Road, it caused all the Web-site interns to run outside and gawk at our black-on-black example. It took some serious whip cracking to send them back to work.

The rest of the staff wasn't easily beguiled by the CL63. Oh, we loved driving it, but every editor who got behind the wheel would later ask out loud, "How much more does the CL600 cost?" After learning that the CL600 is about $10,000 more, we were unanimous in our preference for the CL600. Why? Because the CL600 can do everything the CL63 does but without the fanfare and flamboyance of the AMG car. There is an AMG body kit available for the CL600 that makes it appear similar to the CL63, but even equipped as such, the CL600's unmistakable character comes through courtesy of the effortless 612 pound-feet of torque doled out by the twin-turbo V-12. The CL600 never raises its voice above a whisper; the CL63 AMG never stops announcing itself. You can't really go wrong with either, so which would you rather live with?