DETROIT - Coupes are generally small, quick vehicles that can dart in and out of traffic because of their maneuverability. But there are a handful of full size luxury coupes that can do the same thing. The Mercedes- Benz CL550 is one of them.
It's easy to think of the all- new 2007 CL550 as the two- door version of the Mercedes- Benz S550. We love that car but the CL550 has a personality all its own. It's for the driver who wants to drive versus the driver who wants to steer and let a vehicle take him to his destination.
It was powered by a 5.5- liter V8 that made 382 horsepower and 391 pounds- feet of torque. This ample engine was mated to a seven- speed automatic transmission that shifted so smoothly that we never felt it go into third gear. The power train could move the CL550 fro zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds.
We were somewhat disappointed that the CL's top speed was electronically limited to 130 mph. Not that we wanted to go anywhere near that fast around here; but we didn't like that the car was not allowed to be all that it could be. Still, it was plenty car for the $110,927 sticker of our test car.
The instrument layout of the CL550 was identical to the S550. It was horizontal, dual screened and easier to use than it looks. Of course, the odometer, oil and gas gauges, etc. But on the left was the navigation screen. It doubled as a system screen. A control mouse was atop the center console. We've found the setup awfully easy to use.
Sitting in the CL550 was an experience. Heated and cooled front seats massage us. They could be configured too many to count and they were dynamic - bladders in each side would expand as we turned to keep has perfectly positioned in the seat.
The CL550's ride was simply superb. The car was equipped with a suspension that could be set on comfort or sport. Its Active Body Control CL550 level at all times and it had speed sensitive power steering. All this combined to give us a driving experience that was in its own way sensual.
Although it was a couple with a sloping roof line, there was a fair amount of headroom in the back seat. Hip room was ample because the CL550 was configured for four passengers.
With a base price of $99,900, the CL550's standard equipment was plentiful. Among its creature comforts was satellite radio, a navigation system, an audio system with a 29 GB hard drive, Bi- Xenon adaptive headlights and cornering lights, a hands free communication system, a tire pressure monitoring system and on it went.
Our CL550 had three options: adaptive cruie control which included a crash aoidance system, a heated steering wheel and the Premium II package. It included a rearview camera, park assist, keyless go and a infrared night vision system that's the best we've ever seen.
We've thought about it but we couldn't find anything to gripe about. The CL550 is simply a great full- size coupe. There's no other way for us to say it.