The Mercedes-Benz CL borrows its chassis, engine, most of its structure and the front half of its interior straight from the wonderful S-Class saloon; what is there left to tell? 

Well, quite a lot, as it happens. You could question the point of a less practical and more expensive car than the S-class, and we found plenty of people who reckon a Bentley Continental GT or Jaguar XKR are more desirable, but we defy anyone who has spent some time in the CL not to acknowledge that all that goes to making the S-class so fabulous – and a bit more besides – is present in abundance here too. 

The range only comprises three models. Above the 4.7-litre biturbo V8 engined CL500 sit two AMG models, the CL63 AMG with a 5.5-litre biturbo V8 and the CL65 AMG which boasts a 6.0-litre biturbo V12. The CL63 AMG delivers 536bhp and makes the CL feel heroic, the CL65 AMG’s 621bhp and 737lb.ft of torque turning the CL into a monstrously rapid car. The AMG duo are the only CLs to have an obvious direct external competitor: matching them on price, function and performance is the Continental GT, with its V8 and W12 models respectively. 

At around £93k the ‘entry’ CL500 has some competition in the prestigious coupé market, though its rivals differ it in character and appeal. The Porsche 911, Maserati GranTurismo and BMW M6 are rather more sporting and lack the CL500’s comfort, while the Jaguar XKR and BMW 650i are cheaper.

Top 5 Grand Tourers

  • Aston Martin DB9
    The Aston Martin DB9 is a V12-engined grand tourer

    Aston Martin DB9

    1
  • The Bentley Continental GT is now available as a W12 or a V8

    Bentley Continental GT

    2
  • Mercedes-Benz SL

    3
  • The Jag XK is equally capable of crossing continents or shredding its tyres on track

    Jaguar XK

    4
  • The 6-series shares its plaform with models as diverse as the 5-series and Rolls-Royce Ghost

    BMW 6-series

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    4 March 2015
    CLA looks, bonkers 45 AMG performance, but with added estate practicality. An enticing mix, but is this Shooting Brake worth the extra?
  • First Drive
    4 March 2015
    Savagely rapid, four-wheel-drive diesel version of BMW's four-door coupé could be brilliant, or it could be a niche too far. We drive the 435d xDrive Gran Coupé to find out.
  • First Drive
    4 March 2015
    This is our first opportunity for a UK drive in a manual version of the new Discovery Sport. Does swapping cogs yourself make more sense?
  • First Drive
    3 March 2015
    Sharper handling, more refined and better-looking. Still a bit rough around the edges, mind, but now good enough to be a class contender
  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried