New Car/Review

Mercedes

2000 Mercedes Benz CL500

SEE ALSO: Mercedes Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Mercedes-Benz Full Line Video footage (22:26)
SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 85,500
Price As Tested                                    $ 86,100
Engine Type               SOHC 24-valve 5.0 Liter V8 w/SFI*
Engine Size                                 303 cid/4966 cc
Horsepower                                   302 @ 5600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               339 @ 4250 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  113.6"/73.1"/196.6"
Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     4147 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  23.3 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                    225/55ZR-17
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Front-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A          

Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.28

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                                 N/A          

0-60 MPH                                        6.5 seconds
1/4 (E.T.)                                              N/A
Top speed                  (electronically limited) 155 mph
* Sequential fuel injection

(Being a mechanic, Bob Hagin considers all vehicles simply a collection of nuts, bolts and other parts. Matt Hagin agrees, but says that in cars like the 2000 Mercedes CL500, the nuts, bolts and other parts are much nicer than in most other cars.)

BOB - Mercedes-Benz has a long history of making "personal" cars for working millionaires and other affluent members of society who like to drive. Forty-five years ago, John Algie, a friend of long standing, owned and operated a '37 540K Cabriolet and I've been impressed since then with large Mercedes' of every era. John's car was supercharged and weighed well over 5000 pounds, but its performance was impressive.

MATT - Although Mercedes doesn't have a corner on the ultra-luxury coupe market, it has a contender in it 2000 CL500. Although it's a production line-vehicle and not custom-built to order, it's obviously developed on a cost-is-no-object premise. And although it's not as big or as heavy as your friend's pre-war 540K, the CL500 still weighs in at over 4100 pounds. At that, it's more than 500 pounds lighter than its predecessor by virtue of a "diet" that includes lots of new aluminum, magnesium and composite-material parts. It's a couple of inches shorter than the "old" version and a little narrower, too.

BOB - The "C" in its model designation stands for coupe and the CL500 is really the two-door version of the Mercedes S500 four-door sedan that came out in the middle of '99. Most of the running gear is pretty much the same, but the styling is very different. The coupe has quad headlights and a more streamlined profile, and its drag coefficient is only .28. It's powered by a revised 5.0 liter V8 that uses one overhead cam on each bank and three valves per cylinder. It was part of the weight-reduction program instigated by Mercedes engineers, so the head, block and sump are all aluminum. It puts out 302 docile horses and has a very impressive torque rating of 339 pound/feet. That torque is delivered on a pretty flat curve from 2700 to 4250 RPM and although that makes the CL500 a pretty strong puller, I don't think many of them will be used to tote boat or vacation trailers.

MATT - That V8 is bolted to a five-speed automatic transmission that has the added advantage of being able to be operated almost like a stick-shift. The driver can shift it up and down through the gears progressively. But the most impressive thing about the new CL500 is its sophisticated interrelated suspension system. It uses modified MacPherson struts on each corner and on top of each of them is a small electrohydraulic pump that is interconnected to a computer and more than a dozen sensors located throughout the chassis. When the car is driven through a turn and begins to lean, the sensors pick up the changes in attitude and pump up the shocks that are being compressed. It all happens in milliseconds and it reduces roll by almost 70 percent over last year's model. The driver can also increase the roll resistance by up to 95 percent by flipping a dash-mounted switch.

BOB - This Mercedes has other trick stuff to keep the driver out of trouble, too. An electronic stabilizer applies any one of the four brakes if the systems senses that the car is going into an understeer or and oversteer situation. The application of the inside rear brake corrects understeer or "push," while force applied to the outside front brake corrects an oversteer situation when the rear end starts to come around. And the electronic stabilizer works during acceleration, braking or coasting and on all types of road surfaces. Added to this is the usual anti-lock brakes and a traction control systems that apply the rear brakes and throttles back on the engine if the driver get overzealous on wet or icy pavement. With all those safety features, it would be hard to do anything wrong when you're driving this car. According to the press kit on the car, Mercedes has a V12 version in the works that puts out another 100 horsepower and the only exterior difference will be a small "V12" emblem on each front fender.

MATT - I think I'd want a more ostentatious public display if I was going to spend that kind of money on a daily-driver, Dad.

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