DETROIT, MI -- When it comes to Mercedes-Benz excellence is routine. Words like comfort, dependability, luxury, quality and refinement are often used to describe a Mercedes-Benz, no matter the model. It's a brand of which much is expected and much is delivered.
That was the case with the 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL550, the German automaker's full size coupe. The only quibbles I had with my test vehicle were that it didn't have night vision and there was no rearview camera.
I was told that's the P2 package and it wasn't on my test car. At $3,430, it includes dynamic front seats that message you, night view assist which is in infra red night vision and the rear view camera. The package is standard on the CL63 AMG, the CL65 and the CL600.
Still, the price of my test vehicle was steep, $116,700 as tested. My guess is that about $10K of that can be ascribed to the currency exchange rate which does not favor the dollar. In mid-October, 1 euro was worth almost $1.50. You do the math.
Anyway, my CL550, like every CL550, was chocked full of stuff which I won't list here. But it was what you'd expect in a car that cost more than $100K. Entering the car, I felt like I was in somebody's study or a small well appointed library. The CL had the ability to change the way I felt about my surroundings.
What brought soft to my mind was the CL550's air suspension with an automatic damping system. I hate clichés but the car really did seem like it was skimming a few inches over the road; no matter how rough.
My test vehicle had 4Matic or all-wheel drive which meant extra weight. Yet, it didn't feel as though the tires of the CL550 were touching the ground. The ride was extraordinarily smooth without being soft. The ride was sound yet it lacked the harshness that comes with a firm suspension. And though the CL550 was a sizable car, there was no nose dip or rise during hard acceleration or hard braking and there were no lean in the turns.
The smooth was under the hood. The 2010 CL550 was moved by a 382 horsepower V8 that made 391 pounds-feet of torque. The engine was mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission and power flowed from the engine, through the transmission and on to the wheels effortlessly.
My test car purred at 30 mph and that purr didn't go away at 80 mph. Mercedes says the CL can get from a standing start to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph.
That seemed kind of wimpy to me. On the one hand, Mercedes-Benz should let the CL550 go as fast as it can go. In other words, be all that it can be. But on the other hand this is not Germany which is laced with no speed-limit Autobahns.
Until you get out west, there really isn't anywhere in the U.S. that you do more than 80 mph without contributing to the coffers of local municipalities - if you get caught.
So being all it can be at 130 mph, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL550 does quite nicely as one of the finest luxury coupes on American roads.