Mercedes-Benz officials describe their new CL600 as sophisticated, good-looking, intelligent and powerful. They could as easily be describing how people feel when they're at the wheel.
This new combination of powerhouse and luxury coupe exudes such confidence at every maneuver, minor or aggressive, that ego-boosting seems altogether natural.
Not that customers for this limited-production, fully loaded CL600 would need it.
According to Mercedes officials, buyers of this two-door model have the highest demographic of any of the automaker's customers.
With a median age of 50, they are industry leaders, sports stars and "Wall Street types," according to Bernhard Glaser, product manager for coupes and convertibles at Mercedes.
Price, of course, is likely a secondary consideration for such buyers. But for the record, the CL600 has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price plus destination charge of $117,845.
That's the highest price in the CL-class.
A base CL500, if you can call it that, has a starting price of $88,145 and is powered by a 302-horsepower, 5-liter V8.
The CL55 AMG, another new model for 2001, has a 354-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 and carries a starting price tag of $100,145.
But the high-tech, 362-horsepower V12 in the CL600 -- and all the pampering goodies that are included -- really represent the top of the line.
Impressive by its sheer size under the hood as well as in its oh-so-smooth performance, the 5.8-liter V12 is an amazingly masterful powerplant.
Mated to a five-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission, the engine in the test car acted as if it had eternal power. On long straightaways, I hit 60 mph in less than six seconds and the car just kept on accelerating.
It doesn't have eternal power, of course. Maximum horsepower is 362 at 5,500 rpm, and the top speed is electronically capped in the United States at 155 mph for all CL models.
Happily, the CL600 isn't awkward to drive in the city, either. The engine is amazingly attuned to note small inputs on the accelerator pedal.
Another way to manage the power is by using the Touch Shift manual control on the transmission, which lets a driver shift gears manually -- smoothly, by the way -- without using a clutch pedal.
The CL600's awesome torque of 391 foot-pounds at 4,100 rpm is so capably managed that you'd have a hard time believing it without trying it out for yourself.
A perfect example came when a cell phone-toting, pickup truck driver in front of me suddenly slammed on his brakes while traveling at 55 mph on a two-lane road.
I used the CL600's massive brakes to quickly slow, and I found myself slowing even more quickly than the guy in front could.
So, I got back on the gas, dodged around him and got well down the road, all while he was still slowing down. Talk about an easy emergency maneuver!
During my drives, I tried to hear or otherwise detect the new Active Cylinder Control in the fuel-injected V12 engine -- to no avail.
To help the CL600's fuel economy, this system automatically deactivates the valves and fuel injectors on the driver's side of the V12 when a driver doesn't need maximum power.
This improves the engine's efficiency at part-throttle, and it's all done without any noise or noticeable change in engine behavior.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.