By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/24/2011
Perhaps perfection has its limits, but Mercedes-Benz believes differently and proves it with the latest iteration of its flagship four-seat coupe, the 2011 CL550. Along with the appeal that comes with driving this $100,00-plus automobile is the acknowledgement that its fluid, flowing lines are accompanied by superb V8 performance and one of the most dazzling arrays of hi-tech equipment ever packed into a single vehicle. The successful entrepreneur's dream car, the CL-Class is neither showy nor obviously exotic. It demonstrates an arrival at the serious end of capitalism, and offers the visionary leader who likes to call all the shots a COMAND brain that, with a button on the console to press or rotate, can set a myriad of personal function preferences, including suspension settings. Other Mercedes-Benz CL models include the V12 CL600, the V8 CL63 AMG and the V12 CL65 AMG. The engines of all CL-Class models have twin turbos and produce prodigious power.
If you're looking for the size, safety and status of an S-Class, but prefer the intimacy only a true coupe can provide, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class tops a very short contenders' list.
If you're not much of a reader, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 700-page owner's manual offers a daunting prospect. The Cockpit Management and Data System (COMAND), which controls navigation, audio, telephone, seat massage, suspension and other crucial settings, requires studying no less than 240-plus pages to decipher the different functions.
Key updates for the Mercedes-Benz 2011 CL-Class include refreshed exterior styling, the addition of Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist systems and two brand-new V8 engine choices that deliver more power along with improved efficiency. Also, new is an economy enhancing stop/start feature on the CL63 that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped.
Standard driving practices are not necessarily applicable to the 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL550. By allowing the driver to pre-set dozens of preferences, the COMAND system can tailor the car to an individual driving style and preferred comfort level. The result is one of the best combinations of ride and handling we've ever experienced. Even at high speeds the car glides as smoothly as a Venetian gondola, the transmission traveling seamlessly through its seven gears. The active body control suspension is especially effective, hydraulically adjusting all four wheels depending upon driving situations. You can also electronically set following distance and lane changing, but the system is not infallible and may not detect vehicles not in its sightline.
When driving around curves and corners, the seat side bolsters automatically inflate to steady the body from hip to armpit; the twistier the road, the more insistent the air pressure.
Complex until thoroughly understood, it is the brains behind the CL550's entertainment, GPS, radio, communications and component settings systems. Via the controller "mouse," menus are displayed on an 8-inch pivoting screen.