Merc's big two-door gets sharper looks and a new engine

What is it?

A heavily reworked version of Mercedes-Benz’s four-year-old CL 500, incorporating elements of the German car maker’s new corporate design and an advanced new engine among some interesting additions to its long list of standard safety features in the form of Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist.

Among the more predictable changes to the big Bentley Continental-rivalling coupe is a brace of exterior styling tweaks.

See the test pics of the Merc CL 500 BlueEfficiency

Included are edgier bumpers; the front unit includes new LED running lamps integrated into the middle of the brake cooling ducts, larger and curvier headlamps, and a more contoured bonnet with a more prominent grille.

At the rear there are revised tail-light lenses and, in a bid to give the car greater visual width, new reversing lamps integrated in the boot lid and trapezoidal shaped, chromed tailpipes.

More significant, however, are the changes that have taken place beneath the bonnet. In the place of the outgoing CL 500’s naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8 is a new twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 boasting added power and torque along with big reductions in consumption and emissions.

With 429bhp and 516lb ft of torque, the new engine delivers 46bhp and 125lb ft more than its predecessor despite its smaller displacement.

Mercedes-Benz also claims an impressive 22 per cent reduction in combined cycle fuel consumption at 29.7mpg – a figure equating to 224g/km in overall CO2 emissions – due, in part, to the incorporation of a stop-start function.

What’s it like?

Effortless, unfussed and wonderfully refined. The added reserves are instantly noticeable; the combination of forced induction and direct injection endow the CL 500’s advanced new engine with greater low-end muscle and a smoother nature through the mid-range than the old naturally aspirated unit.

The result? Fewer revs are required for any given speed and overall refinement is exceptional.

It might weigh a whopping 2120kg but Mercedes-Benz’s flagship coupe is also impressively quick both from a standing start and through the gears. With all that torque developed at just 1800rpm, it storms away from the line with all the energy of a much lighter car and the acceleration remains strong well into the upper reaches of the speedo.

Mercedes-Benz claims 0-62mph in 4.9sec. The really impressive thing, though, is just how hard it accelerates beyond this. The CL 500 romps from 75mph to 120mph and beyond with a feeling of real invincibility. Makes you wonder why you’d bother with new CL 63 AMG.

As well as providing the CL 500 with a new engine, Mercedes-Benz has also reworked its seven-speed automatic gearbox, providing it with a new torque converter with reduced friction losses and altered shift points.

It swaps ratios decisively but full load upshifts are sometimes met with a nasty thud back through the driveline as the gearbox attempts to corral the engine’s prodigious torque.

The steering is light but linear in its actions and despite the heavy lump of engine there is abundant front-end grip. There is a fair bit of body movement during initial turn-in but it settles quickly and composure is nicely maintained through corners. The best part of its dynamic repertoire, however, remains its superb ride.

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Should I buy one?

The new CL 500 is a more rounded car than the one it replaces. The new engine makes it faster and more economical, while improving on the already impressive levels of driveability and refinement.

Add to this its impressive new safety features and impeccable build quality and there’s a lot to recommend it next to the Continental GT, even at ₤89,425.

Mercedes CL 500 BlueEfficiency

Price: £89,425 (est); Top speed: 155mph; 0-62mph: 4.9sec; Economy: 29.7mpg (combined); CO2: 224g/km; Engine: V8, 4663cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power: 429bhp at 5250rpm; Torque: 516lb ft at 1800rpm-3500rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd automatic

Join the debate

Add a comment…
W124 7 September 2010

Re: Mercedes-Benz CL500 BlueEfficiency

Under 225 tax threshold - irrelevant but very impressive.

JacobE 7 September 2010

Re: Mercedes-Benz CL500 BlueEfficiency

kahostheory wrote:
and wonder why they don't do a CL350 CDI.

Because it's a flagship luxury coupe. Maximizing sales isn't the point. It's similar to asking why, given that it shares a platform with the Phaeton, the Conti GT isn't available with the VW 3.0 TDI. CLs have always been V8/V12 and appropriately so, the whole point is that it isn't to be owned by people wondering how much it will cost.

I agree though, a nice used CL is a great buy. Quite a few have low mileages and they're rarer than the Conti GT. I think the interior in them is great too.

Christian Galea 6 September 2010

Re: Mercedes-Benz CL500 BlueEfficiency

kahostheory wrote:
I have always had a bit of a thing for the CL, particularly a 3 year old example with a few miles and someone else taking the depreciation hit. Then I think about the mpg

Me too; I love its design (both exterior and interior) but the fuel economy puts me off somewhat...and maintenance also won't be cheap.