There’s no denying that even straight off the showroom floor, the new-for-2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS—the automaker’s supremely stylish “four-door coupe”—is a prodigious performer. The 402 hp CLS550 will sprint to 60 mph in a spirited 5.1 seconds, and the beastly CLS63 AMG, with its 518 hp twin-turbo V-8, will make the trip in sports-car-like 4.4 seconds. To the German speed shop Brabus, however, the CLS’s impressive bone-stock capability was merely a starting point. For 2012, the company unleashes the CLS-derived Rocket 800, the latest in a line of handcrafted, Mercedes-derived supercars that dates to 1977.
The Rocket 800 makes use of Mercedes’ smooth and sonorous V-12 engine— enlarged from 5.5 liters to 6.3 and abetted by a pair of turbochargers fed through a quartet of water-to-air intercoolers. Output stands at a monumental 800 hp and 1,024 ft lbs of torque—although the latter is electronically limited to 811 ft lbs to keep the rear tires from going up in smoke. No matter: the Rocket’s performance lives up to its name. The big Brabus will blast to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds and press on to a Bugatti-like top speed of 230 mph (governed to 217 mph for street use, again for the sake of the tires). Even so, the Rocket 800 takes the title of world’s fastest sedan.
Of course, it takes more than stupendous power to create a vehicle that can safely venture to (and well beyond) the 200 mph mark, and Brabus has fastidiously upgraded the rest of the car for supercar duty. The company replaced the CLS’s standard suspension with a height-adjustable coil-over setup developed with Bilstein, and installed a quartet of enormous vented and grooved disc brakes. Hours in the wind tunnel yielded a host of artful and effective aerodynamic enhancements aimed at reducing frontal lift and wind resistance, including a reshaped front end with ram-air engine intakes, side skirts, and a new rear end with an under-bumper diffuser and a deck-lid spoiler. Brabus engineers also widened the car by almost two inches for improved stability, with the extra breadth contained within new flared fenders crafted of lightweight carbon fiber composite. Of course, the interior has been fittingly upgraded as well, with yards of fine hide on the seats and piano-black wood veneer trim, a racy new steering wheel, and a 250 mph speedometer.
A machine of the 2012 Rocket 800’s titanic ability won’t come cheap. Brabus has priced its built-to-order beast at a cool 429,000 euros in Germany (about $578,000 at this writing—or about $433,000 more than the “standard” Mercedes-Benz CSL63 AMG). Details on United States market pricing and availability are forthcoming. (www.mbusa.com, brabus-usa.com)