Car of the Year 2012: No. 6 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

  • Paul Meyers and Robert Ross

LIGHTING IT UP  
Audi may have started the LED craze, but on this second generation of the car that launched the four-door-coupe category, Mercedes-Benz has made an art form of the headlights and tail lamps. At night, when they glow, the lights lend a sinister look that goes well with the car’s redesigned, more aggressive-looking stance.

The CLS63 AMG was one of the first Mercedes-Benzes to feature the vastly popular and powerful 6.2-liter V-8 engine. But for the car’s current version, the automaker has replaced that engine with a new 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine, which is good for 518 hp and 516 ft lbs of torque in standard form and 550 hp and a tire-shredding 590 ft lbs of torque with the optional AMG Performance Package. With numbers like that, other four-door coupes are going to have a hard time keeping pace with the car that started it all. —Paul Meyers

MEANER AND GREENER
The AMG Performance Package complements the aggressive look of the second-generation CLS63, increasing its torque and horsepower to levels that top the four-door-coupe class. The engine is more powerful than that of the previous model, but the car achieves 33 percent greater fuel efficiency than its predecessor and spews 30 percent fewer emissions. The front seats and overall ergonomics are superb. Compromised headroom for rear-seat passengers and a fussy center console with too many controls are about the only negatives the judges cited. Drivers craving a performance car with two extra doors will be hard-pressed to find a more capable and satisfying automobile. —Robert Ross

SPECIFICATIONS Configuration Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sedan Engine 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 Transmission 7-speed automatic Power 550 hp at 5,500 rpm Torque 590 ft lbs at 2,000 rpm  Curb weight 4,300 pounds Zero to 60 mph 4.4 seconds; 4.3 seconds with the AMG Performance Package Top speed 155 mph (limited); 186 mph with the AMG Performance Package Base price $95,000 Mercedes-Benz, www.mbusa.com

Photo by Jim Fets
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