I don't care what Mercedes-Benz says on its Web site or even on the spec sheet affixed to the window, the 2013 CLS 63 AMG is not a coupe. Streamlined roofline or not, the car that rumbled into the Car Tech garage this week has four doors and a discrete trunk. That, my dear friends in the Mercedes-Benz marketing department, makes it a sedan.
Now, that's not to say that it's not a handsome sedan. The CLS is a fine-looking set of wheels when viewed from most angles, hiding the increased bulk necessitated by the big sedan's fairly spacious cabin with muscular sculpting and sporty proportions.
However, I'm not a fan of the profile, which looks a bit too, well, fat. Mercedes wanted this generation of CLS to have more headroom on the back row, so it's raised the roof line, demolishing any bit of coupelike profile that the previous generation had. The new model also features a B-pillar, where the outgoing chassis boasted a trick pillarless side glass treatment.
Interior styling pulls off a trick that only Mercedes-Benz can: being gaudy and bold, but in an understated way. The design is decidedly Benz. That means that, at least in photographs, there's not much visual difference between the cabin of the $95, 900 CLS 63 AMG and that of a much less expensive . In person, however, the difference boils down to much better materials throughout the cabin - not just at the touch points - more metal, less plastic, and better isolation from the elements.
That the long-wheelbase CLS offers more shoulder room up front, and more legroom in its spacious back row, doesn't hurt either.
Power, responsiveness, and comfort: the CLS 63 AMG is a car that does everything right...which it should, for a base price of nearly 0K.
The CLS 63 AMG's hood swings wide to an absurd 90-degree angle, giving a clearish view of the 5.5-liter bi-turbo V-8 engine's optional carbon fiber cover, part of our vehicle's AMG Performance Package. That package also includes an AMG Sport steering wheel and - most importantly - a boost in power and torque. As equipped, our tester boasted 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque; its top speed limiter has also been raised to an insane-for-public-roads 186 mph.A plaque in the engine bay reminds the owner that each AMG engine is hand-built. Josh Miller/CNET
The shifter for the eight-speed automatic gearbox is an odd electronic unit that returns to center after you push it forward for reverse or pull it back to enter drive - sort of like the ', but with a more satisfying "thunk" signaling that you've selected your direction of travel. To park the vehicle, you push a small, almost-hidden, rectangular P button just ahead of the lever.
Gear changes from the automatic happen quickly enough when in its default Comfort mode, though the CLS 63 AMG changes ratios with more of the casual effortlessness of a conventional torque converter transmission than the lightning-fast, snap changes of a double-clutch unit. Goose the throttle and the CLS has enough torque on tap that, in many situations, it may not even need to downshift.
Of course, for performance driving it's better to be in the right gear to begin with, so the CLS' transmission is also equipped with two more programs, Sport and Sport+, that hold progressively lower gears and change the shift points to more aggressive settings for even better responsiveness and even more roar from the force-fed V-8.The unconventional shifter returns to center after the drive direction is chosen. Josh Miller/CNET