There’s something deliciously decadent about a large, powerful and uber-luxurious two-door coupé, especially if it’s one that’s based on a four-door saloon. After all, it summarises what a coupé is – literally a carriage cut short – and it says to the world that the owner (or at least the original owner) had enough money to spend a little more on a little less, merely in the name of style.
So, meet the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz CL, a shorter and lower S-Class and a haut-de-gamme grandtourer with a huge amount of technology and unimpeachable road presence.
Three generations were made from 1996 to 2014, and we’re focusing on the last of them, introduced in 2006.
In the metal, the C216 is dramatic as its devilishly handsome C215 predecessor was, with a curved roofline and creased flanks that seem to spit the appropriate amount of shrapnel and yet ooze style even at a standstill. It looked even better after a neat facelift in 2010.
You could choose between a 383bhp 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 (badged CL 500) or a 510bhp twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 (CL 600) or, in the CL 63 AMG, a 518bhp 5.5-litre V8 that was assembled by hand and signed by a Mercedes technician. The AMG Performance Pack increases this to 563bhp for a 0-62mph time of 4.4sec and a limited top speed of 186mph.
There was also a CL 65 AMG with a 604bhp V12 for effortless straight-line speed, undemanding engine response and unmatched refinement. A 4.7-litre V8 replaced the 5.5-litre V8 in the 2010 facelift.
You will still be hard-pressed to find something more imperious than the CL. The ride is, for the most part, soft and pillowy, while the handling is surprisingly agile, thanks in no small part to its hydraulic Active Body Control system, which helped to keep it all on an even keel.