2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Expert Review

Editor's Overview

The CL-Class represents Mercedes-Benz's flagship coupe, a powerful-yet-understated ultra-luxury car whose price tag begins well over the six-figure mark and zooms farther north with each trim level. Drivers who can afford these V8- and V12-powered 4-passenger coupes are rewarded with a luxury cruiser that balances stirring performance with everyday livability.

You'll Like The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class If...

If you've got it, don't feel a need to flaunt it, but occasionally like to take it for a run, the 2012 Mercedes CL-Class Coupes give you all that you can handle plus a beautiful environment inside.

You May Not Like The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class If...

If you dread setting up a new computer, TV, or any electronic device, the COMAND system might send a chill up your spine. The owner's manual clocks in at over 700 pages. Saying COMAND takes some setting up is understatement.

What's New

Changes for 2012 are minor for the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class.

Interior Features

The interior of the 2012 Mercedes CL-Class is easy to overlook. Its lack of over-the-top design and extravagance can be numbing at first until you notice just how well turned-out it is. The wood trim is rich and smartly applied, the center console wider than most and gives a sense of space and comfort. The leather is everywhere and immaculate. The ubiquitous monitor is well integrated into the dashboard and manages not to mar the elegance of the interior. Rear seat legroom is average, but the seats are so good you shouldn't receive any complaints.

Exterior Features

The 2012 CL-Class demonstrates brilliant integration of recent Mercedes design aesthetics. Even from a cursory glance it's easy to spot the protractor-perfect yet natural looking roofline.The AMG versions of the 2012 CL-Class push the aggression with a wider-slotted grille and jowly air intakes up front. All models are understated until you really start paying attention to their details.

Driving Impressions

Through its COMAND system, any 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class can be adapted to almost any driver. COMAND tailors the car to preferred driving styles and comfort settings, allowing all drivers a very personal experience. Wherever you keep your seat, you'll find a superb mix of handling, power and ride quality. The smoothness of the ride, even at a healthy gallop, is stunning. Not to say it isn't exciting. Far from it. The paddle shifted transmission (7-speeds for the V8s, 5-speeds for V12 models) is seamless and precise, and the active suspension keeps the power flowing where it needs to go. That's very good for the driver because no matter which 2012 CL-Class you end up in, there's no lack of power.

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL550 Coupe has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $114,000. Both the CL63 AMG and CL600 Coupe top $150,000, and the 2012 CL65 AMG has an MSRP of $211,000. With that vast a price range, it can be hard to pinpoint just which cars the CL-Class is up against. The CL550 Coupe comes in around $20,000 more than a Jaguar XKR and $30,000 over a BMW 650i. The other 2012 CL-Class models have various Aston Martins, Bentleys and even Porsche 911s to contend with. Resale values on the 2011 CL-Class models have held extremely well, long term value retention remains to be seen. As always, be sure to check out kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price, to see what others in your area paying for the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupes.

Notable Equipment

The 2012 CL550 Coupe features 4MATIC all-wheel drive (AWD) along with an Adaptive Dampening System, Airmatic semi-active suspension, and direct-steer system that varies the steering ratio according to how far you turn the wheel. The 2012 CL600 Coupe adds Active Body Control and the twin-turbo V12. Both AMG models give you Biturbo-enhanced engines, AMG sport seats, AMG instrument cluster, sports pedals and one impressively pretty analog dashboard clock. COMAND is standard along with nine airbags and heated/ventilated front seats.

Notable Options

The 2012 CL550 Coupe has available packages offering a rearview camera, blind-spot assist, Active Lane-Keeping Assist, AMG-styled body pieces, and up to 20-inch wheels. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL600 Coupe is offered without additional options. The CL-Class AMG models have various wheel upgrades and carbon fiber trim pieces available.

Favorite Features


Yes, it's a bear to set up. Once it is, though, COMAND provides for a level of personalization that is as elegant as it is useful.

Treated Glass

It's an odd thing to love, but the glass in the CL-Class is treated to both reduce outside noise as well as keep radiant heat and UV-rays from cooking the cabin. That's the kind of German attention to detail we love.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class engines are monsters. The CL550 Coupe packs a 4.6-liter twin-turbo V8 good for 429 horsepower with a 0-60 time of under 5.0 seconds. The 2012 CL600 Coupe gets a twin-turbo V12 rated at 510 horsepower. The CL63 AMG and CL65 AMG have a biturbo V8 and V12 respectively. That CL65 AMG engine gives you 612 horsepower and a gargantuan 738 lb-ft of torque. Performance specs are different enough for all models that there should be a CL-Class for all buyers. At least all those who hold the top one-percent of wealth. Those looking for something more specific can get an AMG Performance Package for the CL63 that boosts horsepower, torque and top speed.

4.6-liter V8 Twin-Turbocharged

429 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm

516 lb-ft torque @ 1,800-3,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24

5.5-liter V12 Twin-Turbocharged

510 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm

612 lb-ft torque @ 1,800-3,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18

5.5-liter V8 BiTurbo

536 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm

590 lb-ft torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22

6.0-liter V12 BiTurbo

612 horsepower @ 4,800-5,750 rpm

738 lb-ft torque @ 2,000-4,300 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18

Editors' Notes

With aggressive styling, more-assertive engines, luxurious interiors, and endless customization available, Mercedes- Benz succeeded in establishing the 4-seat 2012 CL-Class as the thinking and (very well-to-do) working man's high-end transportation. From the base 2012 Mercedes Benz CL550 Coupe to the 612-horsepower V12 Biturbo-equipped CL65 AMG, the CL-Class Coupes offer a balance of performance and livability that make them stand out not only against other cars in their class, but amongst others in their lofty price point as well.

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