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Mercedes Benz CL600 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Mercedes Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price             $ 117,200
     Price As Tested                                   $ 125,040
     Engine Type             SOHC 36-valve 5.8 Liter V12 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 353 cid/5786 cc
     Horsepower                                   362 @ 5500 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               391 @ 4100 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  113.6"/73.1"/196.6"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4479 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  23.3 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          225/55ZR17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.28


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/23/19         

     0-60 MPH                                        5.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                         14.0 seconds @ 100.0 mph
     Top speed                  (Electronically limited) 155 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Mercedes makes some very expensive cars and Matt Hagin says this CL600 coupe is near the top. Bob Hagin says it costs 10 times what he paid for his first house.)

BOB - This Mercedes CL600 coupe isn't a real sports car, Matt. It's more on the order of a very fast touring coupe that's capable of transporting its driver and passenger in utter comfort at top speed all day long. There aren't many places in this country where its top speed of 155 can be utilized without encountering slower traffic, though. Maybe across the badlands of Nevada, but that's not legal.

MATT - That's true but if the driver has the cruise control set to automatic, the electronics and sensors of the CL600 are so sophisticated that they will automatically slow down the car if it encounters a slower vehicle up ahead and even apply some braking power if necessary. If the driver overrides the system, a chime goes off warning of the possible danger.

BOB - This CL600 is pretty much a new car this year and its centerpiece is the all-new, all-aluminum 5.8-liter V12 engine that's loaded with trick technology. Unlike the V8 engine that's in its little brother, the CL500, this giant powerplant is built with an angle of 60 degrees between its two banks of six cylinders. My guess is that it would fit better under the hood of what is in effect the same body as the CL500. The Mercedes guys say that it get 20 percent better gas mileage than the 6.0-liter V12 it replaces. One of the ways they did that was to electronically disable the left bank of cylinders when the engine is idling or putting along at low revs or in the lower transmission gears. But when the driver gets on it, the other six cylinders kick in and the torque almost doubles.

MATT - The car we got was set up with a Sport Package which amounts to a spoiler in front, a rear "apron," side skirts and a set of "staggered" tires and wheels. The standard units are 225R55-17's on both ends but our car carried 245/45YR-18's on the front and 275/40YR-18's on the rear. The back wheels are also an inch wider in back than in front. I also just love the "monoblock" look of the sport wheels.

BOB - The suspension doesn't have to be stiffened up for the Sport Package, Matt. The CL600 has an "active" suspension system that's electronically controlled and when the car goes into a turn, the suspension on the compressed side is stiffened up to compensate by up to 65 percent. If the driver wants to really push it, a Sports switch on the dash activates the system even further and the resistance goes up to 95 percent. And if the driver miscalculates the entry speed of the turn and the car either oversteers or understeers, the braking is adjusted automatically to keep it going in the intended direction.

MATT - There's so many switches, buttons and information-center items in front of the driver, it would be best to go through the owner's manual and try to figure out what everything does. The Global Positioning System not only tells the driver how to reach a destination, it automatically can send a signal for roadside assistance to a Mercedes "flying squad," contact the nearest police, fire and medical services if the car crashes and the driver is out cold, detect the car's location if it gets ripped off and open the door locks for the driver if the keys are locked inside. I had to use this last week when I locked its keys in the trunk. The driver can still play with the transmission since there's an manual control mode that lets it be shifted almost like a stick-shift. It also adjusts the automatic shifting points to the style of the driver. Drive it hard and the shift point are at higher revs. Mild driving drops the shift points to save gas. Mercedes obviously wants to take care of its carriage-trade clientele.

BOB - This CL600 is the creme-de-la-creme of the Mercedes line and only a limited number of them will be built. A local salesman told me that it's so exclusive that there's already a three-year waiting list.

MATT - I knew it was expensive but I didn't know it's that high- class. Maybe I should have dressed better when I drove it.