Unlike the S-Class, the Mercedes CL is suspended on coil, not air springs and is fitted with standard hydraulic ABC active body control (available only on S 500s and above), the latest generation of which allows the CL to corner with 60 percent less body roll than the previous car. It hardly rolls at all.
It’s an unusual but not unsettling phenomenon and allows the CL to corner with a composure you’d scarcely credit a car this large and comfortable. There is a minor delay between turning the steering wheel in faster corners and the suspension applying some muscle to the outside pair of springs to flatten body movements, and the steering is as positive as you could expect.
It’s happy to turn its nose towards a corner and resists understeer strongly – right up to a lateral cornering force of 0.91g.
ESP quickly reins in proceedings when the CL starts to slide, and although it can be switched off, it refuses to relinquish control completely. Around our wet handling circuit the CL could be coaxed into an adjustable, playful slide until it reached 15 degrees or so off the straight-ahead, at which point both the ESP and Pre-Safe systems intervened.
The AMG pairing naturally feature suspension that’s been fettled to better suit their greater performance. So they’re stiffer, with even the comfort setting on the suspension giving a fairly brittle ride. That’s fine for top speed Autobahn runs, but on the broken tarmac of our island it’s all a bit busy, upsetting the car’s composure. If genuine, supple Grand Touring comfort is what you’re after you need the CL 500.