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2018 CLS63 S

Mercedes-Benz pioneered the notion of a premium four-door coupe with the launch of the first CLS in 2004. Despite the somewhat counter-intuitive nature of a sedan masquerading as a coupe, the CLS was a success, with customers lining up in droves and competitors ranging from Audi to Hyundai stealing styling cues. The Mercedes-AMG CLS63 S is the range-topper of the second-generation CLS, a car that mixes performance, style and luxury in equal measure.


Essentially a re-bodied E63 AMG 4MATIC, the CLS63 puts looks above all with a lowered roof, puckered tail and curvy dashboard. While the E-Class is practical and formal, the CLS seeks to be evocative and emotional.

Under the hood rests the heart of the CLS63 AMG: a hand-made 5.5-liter V8 engine. This twin-turbocharged and direct-injected monster makes 577 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, enough to send the CLS from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed that's electronically limited at 186 mph.

High-performance brakes and an adaptive suspension with self-leveling rear springs help keep the power in check.

The eight-cylinder spins all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission controlled by shift paddles and a limited-slip differential. Fitted with a start/stop system, it returns 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

The Inside Story

Inside, the opulent interior of the standard CLS-Class is upgraded with extras like a three-spoke leather/Alcantara steering wheel with a flattened rim at both the top and bottom to allow improved driver control. Other AMG-specific touches include sports seats and an elegant analog clock.

Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system remains; controlled either by voice commands, a central knob or steering wheel-mounted buttons, it integrates the sedan's audio, navigation and Bluetooth-based connectivity functions into a single unit on the dashboard.

An optional mbrace system adds a host of cloud-based goodies, including a concierge service, location-based traffic and weather updates, stolen vehicle location assistance, automatic collision notification and more. Available apps add internet browsing, Google local search with street view, Yelp reviews, Facebook access and news reports. Owners can even use an mbrance smartphone app to remotely lock, unlock or locate their sedan.

Standard and Optional Features

The list of standard features includes a sunroof, wood trim, full LED headlights, brushed aluminum pedals, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view and door mirrors, an alarm, 14-way power front seats, heated front seats, a Homelink transceiver, a rear sunshade, dual-zone A/C, navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming, a rear spoiler, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Optional extras include carbon ceramic brakes, a carbon fiber engine cover, piano black trim in the cabin, a rear-view camera, keyless start, power-folding door mirrors, ventilated front seats, a Bang & Olufsen sound system as well as an in-car WiFi hotspot.

Occupant Safety

Mercedes-Benz has long been known for its safety features, and the CLS63 will only add to that reputation. In addition to ABS and ESP stability control, the car boasts nine supplemental restraints including two-stage front air bags, a knee air bag for the driver and pelvic air bags which work together with curtain and side air bags to provide extra protection for front occupants in dangerous side-impact collisions.

Also standard is an ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.

The optional Pre-Safe Brake system detects impending collisions with vehicles or pedestrians and can automatically apply braking force to avoid or mitigate the severity of the crash

Key competitors

Looking for a high-performance four-door-coupe? Besides the CLS63 AMG, there are plenty of excellent choices, including the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, the Audi RS7 and the Porsche Panamera Turbo S.