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Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

by Sudhir Matai on 26/09/2011

Comments: 0

At A Glance

Retail Price R1 412 089,00
kw 386
Torque 700
Top Speed 250

Eagle-eyed fans of the Three-pointed Star may have spotted AMG versions of the new CLS at their local dealerships for many months already. Mercedes-Benz South Africa, however, has waited until the full array of CLS-class cars was available locally before having any sort of media launch party.

You can see details and pictures of the entire CLS line-up elsewhere on this site, so I shall skip directly to my driving experiences of the new models. For now I shall focus on the CLS63 AMG and later this week you can read about my experiences behind the wheel of the CLS500.

AMG models usually stand out quite considerably from their lesser powered brethren. View a C63 along its C180 CGI sibling and you will have little doubt as to which model has spent all its evenings in the gym. This, however, does not seem to be the case with the CLS. There are visual cues to differentiate the models, but barring the large alloys there is little to really set the AMG apart from the 500. Especially in a dark shade the already menacing shape does not have an abundance of “popping muscles” to give up the game. Viewed from behind there are a quartet of quadrangular tail-pipes and, of course, the badge but little else.

Some, I am sure, will prefer it that way and your typical CLS buyer is unlikely to be a boy racer. Let’s be realistic, with a price tag of over R1,3-million he’d have to be a pretty spoiled kid to get one of these as a varsity or college runabout. The average person that plumps for this kind of car is unlikely to want to announce (too loudly) the performance capability of their latest purchase.

Pop the door and the driver is greeted by (standard) AMG sports seats covered in lush, perforated Nappa leather. The steering wheel, too, is model-specific and features flattened top and bottom sections. Ostensibly, these are to allow better visibility and ease ingress, as they do in a racecar, but with fully (electrically) adjustable seat and steering wheel it seems like a sop to the marketing department. The shift paddles found on the rear side of the steering wheel are chunky aluminium items as opposed to the smaller plastic versions of other CLS models.

One other area that the most powerful CLS differs is that of the gear selector centre console. Other CLS models have a column-mounted shifter, much like an indicator stalk. The AMG model has an aircraft style gear lever between the seats, very similar to that of the halo SLS model. Alongside this are several buttons that help tailor settings of the transmission, suspension and ESP to the driver’s desires. Firing up the motor is as simple as prodding a button – provided the key is close enough – as all CLS models feature keyless entry and start as standard fitment.

The twin-turbocharged V8 kicks over with a bit of a raspy gargle, but settles to a baritone idle that belies what will happen later. Pull-away like the Pastor and no one will have any clue of the performance potential. Floor it, however, and anyone within earshot will swivel their heads to get a look at the fury unleashed. Acoustics engineers have managed to maintain a distinctive V8 growl despite the twin blowers strapped to the exhaust manifolds.

The aural delight is accompanied by a strong shove in the cabin, too, as 386 kW conspires to shift the occupants forward with extreme pace and minimal effort.

The seven-speed transmission dispenses with a traditional torque converter and depending on the mode you choose: C(ontrolled Efficient), S(port) S+ or M(anual) there is a noticeable difference in the response times and behaviour. And if you ever find the need there is even a Race Start, i.e. launch-control function. I found that the sport setting provides the ideal compromise to exploit fast shift times and smooth shifts.

Mercedes claims a sprint time from zero-to-100 km/h of 4,4 seconds, which is mighty impressive for a car that weighs nearly 1,9 tonnes. From a subjective point of view, the in-gear acceleration feels even more phenomenal. Flatten the loud pedal at any – even triple-digit – speed and the CLS will drop a few cogs and make haste for the horizon. With 700 N.m torque available in a plateau between 1 750 and 5 000 r/min, the acceleration is relentless and it is ridiculously easy to find oneself bouncing of the 250 km/h limiter, or so I am told…

Mercedes is not world-renowned for producing world class driver’s cars. Sure, the machines from Affalterbach are fast and have immense power outputs but they are regularly trumped by other brands/models in this regard. Having said that, the CLS 63 provided a scintillating drive over the demanding section of mountainous blacktop otherwise known as Robinson’s Pass.

Apart from the prodigious pace afforded by the powerplant/transmission combo, there are extremely capable anchors to help scrub off the invariable turn of speed you can build between corners. An AMG-tuned steering rack provides a quicker action from lock-to-lock and therefore makes tackling this sort of road even more of a doddle.

Grip levels are high, too, not just from the wide section (295 mm) rear rubber, but from the front end as well. Mercedes of old had a tendency to wash into gentle understeer when really pressing on. On this pass and the fast sweeps that led up to and away from it there was no lack of front-end bite. There are several good performance cars at this (price and luxury) level, mostly from Germany and Mercedes’ direct competitors…

I have driven many and can say that the CLS makes a very compelling case for itself. Not only is it a very stylish and comfortable package to commute, but also an extremely fast cruiser that is now (dynamically) closer to the best from the rest.


Engine: 8/5 461 cm3

Power/Torque: 386 kW/700 N.m

Length/width/height/wheelbase: 4 996/1 881/1 406/2 874 mm

Suspension (f/r): Three-link,coil springs, anti-roll bar, AMG ride control/multi-link, air suspension with AMG ride control

Warranty/service plan: 3 years/100 000 km/5 years/90 000 km

0-100 km/h: 4,4 seconds

Top speed: 250 km/h (limited)

Fuel consumption: 9,9 litres/100 km

Prices And Specs

Model CLS 63 AMG 7-sp Touchshift MY11
Retail Price R1 412 089,00
kw 386
Torque 700
0-100km 4.4
Top Speed 250
Fuel Type Petrol
Fuel Consumption Not Available
Tyre Size Front 255/35 R19
Tyre Size Rear 285/30 R19
Rear Tyre Size Width 285
Rear Tyre Size Profile 30
Rear Tyre Rim Size 19
Spare Tyre Size Space Saver
Tyre Pressure Monitor Yes
Wheelbase 2874

Safety And Features

Air Conditioner Automatic
Audio System CD Shuttle
Rev Counter Yes
Gearbox Electronic
ABS Brakes Yes
Power Steering Yes
Seats 4
Steering Wheel Heated No
Speakers 10
Colour Coded Bumpers Body Colour
Leather Trim Full
Alarm Yes
Anti Skid Control Yes
Electronic Defferential No
Gears 7
Height 1406
Onboard Computer Yes
Immobiliser Yes
Split Rear Seats No
Brake Assist Yes
Electric Seats -
Cup Holders Yes
Electric Mirrors Yes
Electric Windows Front Rear
Airbag DPS
Doors 4
Airbag Driver Yes
Airbag Passenger Yes
Navigation System Yes
Park Assistance Front Rear
Side Impact Protection Bars Yes
Sunroof Yes
Fog Lamps Front Yes
Fog Lamps Rear Yes
Headlight Type Bi-Xenon
Towbar No
Payload -
Bull Bar -

  • Biki

    i agree with the writer, this car is too soft looking more saloon than sports coupe.