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Thread: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    The best way to compete is by offering something no one else does but which many people are likely to want. Ideally, be the first to bring it to market, too.

    That, in a nutshell, is the secret of the Mercedes CLS - a super luxury sedan with the super sleek lines of a super luxury coupe. Practicality - and style.

    No one else has anything remotely like it.

    WHAT IT IS

    The CLS is a medium-large, ultra-premium luxury sedan that sits above the E-Class and just below the S-Class in Mercedes' passenger car lineup. It is based on the mid-sized E-Class sedan but features much more dramatic and swoopy coupe-inspired styling, including low-cut roofline and steeply raked windshield. Prices begin at $68,950 for the CLS550 and run up to $94,550 for the ultra high-performance CLS63AMG.

    WHAT'S NEW

    Several major changes for '09, including a revised front end with twin-bar grille and revised tail section with molded-in trapezoidal dual exhaust cutouts. Inside, the CLS gets a new three-spoke steering wheel that manages to get rid of the ugly blob-like center section that afflicts almost every air-bag equipped car, but without nixing the air bag. The stereo and COMAND interface (Benz's controller unit for the climate control, GPS and other functions) has been revised to be more "intuitive" (translation: easier for those of us who aren't especially computer hip to figure out on our own).

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The CLS550 comes standard with a 382 horsepower V-8 and seven-speed automatic driving the rear wheels only. (Unlike the E-Class with which it shares a platform, the CLS cannot be ordered with all-wheel-drive. )

    With this combo, the slinky sled reaches 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, neck and neck with a Porsche Cayman. If that's insufficiently rapid, the CLS63 AMG should be able to address any performance-related issues you may have. It packs a monster (and hand-built) 6.3 liter (that's nearly 400 cubic inches) V-8 muscled up to 507 hp, enough to cut the 0-60 time down to 4.3 seconds.

    For '09, Benz is offering an optional "186 mph" performance package with this engine that reprograms the stock computer to forget all about the otherwise electronically limited 155 mph top end so that you can take full advantage of every single additional 31 mph the 6.3 liter V-8 is capable of achieving.

    As far as gas mileage (though at this price point, who cares, right?) the CLS is impressively economical - for a 4,000 lb. sedan with an almost 400 horsepower V-8, anyhow. EPA gives it a 14 city/21 highway rating.

    Premium fuel only, naturlich.

    RIDE & HANDLING

    Mercedes' sedans have historically been a tad less athletic-feeling than BMW sedans - and some (but not all) Audi and Lexus sedans, too. The CLS seems more enthusiastic than a non-AMG E-Class (the Benz it shares a platform with) although still not as sharp as as BMW 5 or 7. Still, it hustles - and with considerably more power on tap than the V-8 equipped BMW 5-Series (4.8 liters, 360 hp) and even the larger, heavier 7-Series (which uses the same 4.8 liter V-8 as its standard engine) it feels much more vigorous in real-world driving. No doubt, a BMW would out-autocross it. But who actually runs one of these things through the cones, outside of professional road testers? Where it counts - such as launching itself from 30 mph coming out of a tigh-radius freeway on-ramp to 70 mph almost faster than you can say "Gott Mitt Uns" - the CLS gits 'er done.

    Ride quality wise, the Benz glides along with assured serenity - dead serious and ultra-quiet. It's no stretch to say it feels a lot like a junior Maybach - at a considerable discount.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    Nothing else looks remotely like the rakish CLS550 - at least, nothing else with four doors. And that is the whole point, after all. Mercedes' strategy with this car isn't to compete with other premium mid-large luxury sedans - it's to offer a radically different type of sedan and create thereby an entirely new segment that (for now) Mercedes alone controls.

    The idea of a sedan that's styled to be as coupe-like as possible sounds a little over-the-top, until you see the CLS in person. It is major motion picture star dramatic; a wasp-waisted show-stopper that almost ought to come standard with paparazzi chase mobile. Park one in in any big lot and see how many other cars - sport sedans and coupes included - have lower rooflines. Or more dramatically swept back front and side glass.

    Or which draw the attention of passers-by.

    You'd think this radical shaping would kill interior headroom, but it doesn't. In fact, the CLS' cabin dimensions are very close to those of the more conventionally styled E-Class in every category except front seat headroom (36.9 inches for the CLS, 39.1 for the E350). But that's still enough clearance up front for a driver as tall as 6 ft 3 (me) and those in the back seat suffer almost no loss of function to form at all. The CLS has 36.1 inches of rear seat headroom, the E350 37.1 inches. Both cars have almost exactly the same amount of front and rear seat legroom ( appx. 42 inches front and 35 inches back for both) and exactly the same amount of trunk space at 16 cubic feet.

    In a nutshell, there is no awful price to be paid in terms of usability for buying the coupe-like CLS over a sedan-looking sedan.

    And the interior isn't just accessible. It's also as beautiful and unusual as the exterior shape of the CLS. There is a full-length console that runs all the way from the front to the back, neatly dividing the entire cabin. This does eliminate the possibility of seating five passengers, however. But let's face, First Class is all about having your own space - not knocking knees with the hoi polloi. Each passenger even gets his own independent climate controls, too. Further intimacies include your pair of speakers (there are 12 total), sculpted in pop-out ashtrays built into each rear door panel, separate cubbies in the console, your own reading light - and that's for the backseat passengers.

    Frameless door glass adds elegance without wind noise or water leaks. Electric motors drop them down just slightly whenever you open a door, then snug them up tightly after you close them. Even the headrests are studies in fine detail, with form-fitted leather covers and what looks like hand-stitched seams.

    Many high-priced cars have trouble rising to the promise of their MSRP. The CLS justifies every penny - and could easily pass for six figures.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    Few cars are safer places to be in than a Mercedes-Benz sedan and the CLS is no exception. Like the E-Class and S-Class, it is a top scorer in both government and insurance industry testing, both in its class and compared with anything else out there. Many people don't realize that reported crash test scores compare a car only against others of its type and class - which can be very misleading. For example, a "5 Star rated" small car is not the same as a "5 Star rated" large sedan. If the large sedan hit the small car, the driver of the small car might be seeing stars instead. But with a car like the CLS550 you are assured of outstanding crashworthiness - period.

    In addition to the inherent protection afforded by its 4,000 pound bulk and heavy-gauge construction, the CLS comes standard with state of the art active and passive collision avoidance and occupant safety equipment, including the ability to detect an impending crash (or something in the road, like a deer) and start the process of stopping the car for you, if you're too slow on the draw yourself. There are also more air bags than in a congressional committee (side impact/curtain for both rows plus a knee air bag for the driver), ESP traction/stability control, auto-adjusting cruise control - the works.

    Mercedes-Benz cars have historically held their value better than most competitors, a reflection of their generally superior quality and durability. The future, residual value-wise, of the CLS is a bit harder to predict since its very radical styling may (or may not) prove as enduring as the Blue Chip look of, say, a E350 or S-Class. But the quality of the car itself is a given.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    The CLS provides both internal and external gratification, meaning - you feel great driving this thing almost as much as you feel great about the envious looks you get as the lucky owner of this thing.

    Large, expensive-looking luxury sedans have become so commonplace in affluent areas they're almost background noise - and nothing special, really. But the CLS is a different story. People look. And isn't that as much a draw to owning a car such as this as how much it costs?

    The rest is boilerplate. Every car at this price point drives magnificently - and the CLS is no exception. (It had better not be for almost $70 to start!) Where the Benz really stands out is locomotive pull that's available from that big lunker of V-8, even at relatively low engine speeds. Full torque output - almost 400 lbs.-ft. of it - is available at 2,800 rpm. This is just what you want for a two-ton sled with an automatic transmission. And the seven-speed automatic shifts beautifully, matching its shift points and firmness to your driving style.

    The CLS is essentially a high-end luxury touring car, so it's not set up to corner like an SLR (or BMW 5-Series). But the open secret of today's new car market is that even the lowest econo-box handles better than most drivers can drive - and once you're over the $40k price point, virtually anything you choose will have more capability than you do - which means the car can be driven incredibly fast with minimal effort and very little risk. The only people who might get near the edge of the adhesion limits of a car like the CLS in a fast corner are hooligan automotive test drivers and Mafia wheelmen. Everyone else will feel - indeed, for all practical purposes, will be - invincible.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    The CLS will definitely wake you up. And anyone else who sees you driving it, too.


  2. #2
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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    Posted this article on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...4&Itemid=10893


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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    The rich investment banker that worked in the same building as I did at the last job had one as his daily-driver.

    Just a totally beautiful car.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    The rich investment banker that worked in the same building as I did at the last job had one as his daily-driver.

    Just a totally beautiful car.

    Chip H.
    I second that; you have to see it in the flesh to appreciate it. A stunning car!

  5. #5
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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    Amazing how MB took the pedestrian E-class and put nice body panels on it and a premium price and it's a mega hit. Have to give them kudos for that.

    I like the CLS but the head room inside does suffer especially in the back seat. The CLS makes all their other sedans look stogy by comparison.

  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    I guess I'm the only one who thinks it's hideous? Looks like a banana to me.

  7. #7
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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    Wait until you see one in person.

    When car makers talk about dynamic design, they're referring to the CLS class.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Wait until you see one in person.

    When car makers talk about dynamic design, they're referring to the CLS class.

    Chip H.
    It's one of the few cars that gets more interesting the longer you look at at. The proportions are really radical; pics do not do the car justice....

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