This Complete Report is brought to you by: COMPLETE REPORT Welcome to our Decision Guide Complete Report. It puts all the information you need on this vehicle at your fingertips. We give you objective test figures, and more. Our collective expertise, combined with the most comprehensive testing program around, lets us truly put vehicles in the proper context for you. The in-depth reviews, road tests, and comparison tests included here don't just tell you what a vehicle can do. Our real-world observations and judgments, based on our many years of experience with all types of vehicles, help you to understand the qualitative nature of performance. Mercdes-Benz CL55 AMG Base price: $119,620 Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-drive; 2-door 4-passenger coupe COMPLETE REPORT CONTENTS Content Section Detailed vehicle specifications 1 Capsule Review 2 Road tests, reviews & related feature articles 3 J.D. Power and Associates Power Circle Quality Ratings 4 NHTSA crash-test ratings 5 Kelley Blue Book detailed vehicle pricing & standard equipment 6 COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 1: Specifications Mercdes-Benz CL55 AMG Base price: $119,620 Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-drive; 2-door 4-passenger coupe Base price: $119,620 Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-drive; 2-door 4-passenger coupe Interior volume, F/R/cargo (cu ft) 53/36/12 - Cargo volume, seats up/maximum (cu ft) 25/64 Wheelbase 113.6 in Length/width/height 196.4/73.1/55.4 in Turning circle 37.6 ft Curb weight 4255 lb EPA city/hwy mpg 14/22 Fuel-tank capacity/range 23.2 gal/325 mi Passive restraints driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags; rear side and curtain airbags Bed capacity (cu ft) 27.9- POWERTRAIN supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter SOHC 24-valve V-8, 493 hp, 516 lb-ft; 5-sp auto SUSPENSION F ind, unequal-length control arms, coil and hydraulic springs R ind, multilink, coil and hydraulic springs, anti-roll bar BRAKES F/R vented, cross-drilled disc/vented, cross-drilled disc ABS standard Future Product Intelligence 2005 Mercdes-Benz CL55 AMG A redesign is expected, but might slip to 2008. COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 2: Capsule Review Mercdes-Benz CL55 AMG Mercedes launched its CL65 AMG in Monte Carlo, where attending journalists spent a night aboard the SS Christina, formerly Ari Onassis's yacht. It's a big boat, but most of us were confident that the 604-hp, 738 lb-ft twin-turbo V-12 in the big Mercedes coupe would have pushed it along just fine. In fact, without the various electronic watchdogs taking care of traction, and-we suspect, the longevity of the five-speed automatic transmission-the CL65 would light 'em up every time you floor the gas. To cope with its gargantuan motor, AMG has tweaked almost everything in the coupe's chassis, driveline, and brakes, and the result is a car that drives with a precision that belies its substantial mass. Also substantial is the price: Expect to pay $178,220 before taxes. If all that sounds like too much, there's still the 493-hp, V- 8â€“propelled CL55. COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features 2006 Charting the Changes â€” Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz October 2005 There's a whole new class for '06, consisting of the CLS500 and CLS55 AMG, that was introduced earlier this year. Another negrouping is the R-class, an interesting combination of sedan, SUV, and wagon (with three rows of seats) built on a much modified M-class platform. The 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6-powered ML350 and the 302-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 ML500, each with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission, are all-new for '06. The C-class gets new V-6s: a 201-hp 2.5-liter for the C230; a 228-hp 3.0-liter for the C280; and a 268-hp 3.5-liter for the C350. The E320 is replaced by the E350 model (another 3.5-liter V-6 upgrade). The CLK-class gets a new grille and taillights, and the CLK320 is replaced by the CLK350 with the 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The SLK-class adds the SLK280, powered by a 228-hp, 3.0-liter V-6. A new S-class (see Technical Highlight below), which is already on sale in Europe, comes here in January. (See also Technical Highlight: AMG, below.) Unchanged: CL-class, SL-class, SLR McLaren, G-class. Future: MLK-class, a little brother to the M-class, debuting in 2008. TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHT The new S-class will feature a new generation of Pre-Safe, a collision warning and preparation system that provides an earlier response to impending rear-end crashes. It has proved useful in reducing accident severity. Using two separate radar transmitters— one that scans a wide path just ahead of the vehicle, another that projects a narrow long-range beam—Pre-Safe identifies objects and calculates the rate of approach. When it sees a dangerous situation, the system warns the driver and primes the braking system for faster response and maximum braking force when the driver hits the pedal. Pre-Safe tightens the seatbelts and moves the seats into positions that afford greater protection—measures carried over from the first Pre-Safe system—but now also closes the side windows to support the curtain airbags and can inflate special seat cushions to locate the occupants more securely. TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHT: AMG We're used to seeing AMG, Mercedes-Benz's power-crazy performance division, inject more power into the company's engines. This time, however, AMG started from scratch to create its own 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine that shares no parts or dimensions with any other Benz engine. AMG's powerplant makes a healthy 503 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm, while revving to 7200 rpm. It has an all-aluminum construction with four valves per cylinder and a unique cylinder-coating process that saves weight and manufacturing time over traditional cast-in steel liners. All four overhead cams are continuously variable over a range of 42 degrees to optimize output while keeping emissions in check. Since the 6.2-liter's torque is lower than the supercharged V-8's 516 pound-feet, it's safe to use with the seven-speed automatic—the only transmission that will be paired with this engine. The first vehicle powered by this 503-hp beast will be the ML63 AMG. This engine will then be the V-8 of record in all AMG vehicles (we've been assured it even fits in the small C- and SLK-classes). No official word on a forced- induction version. Select another manufacturer COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS500 A 4048-pound supermodel. BY RON KIINO May 2005 There's always one guy in a crowd of guys at the bar rail who will, while the group flips through pages of the latest swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated, feign utter disinterest in what is obviously a particularly beautiful model while the other guys are raving about her. "Naw, she's ugly," he'll say to the utter befuddlement of his friends. For whatever reason—maybe the model has one peculiarly long toe, a misplaced freckle, orange hair, a single tooth veering to the left—even a swimsuit babe in SI can fail to appeal to some guys. So what gives? What makes that one guy stray from the unanimous decision of the group? A similar phenomenon now arises with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz CLS500. Most observers who witness its sleek body feel an immediate and strong physical attraction. This is a car you can't help staring at, and maybe you want to run your fingers along the smooth sheetmetal, feel the glowing red of the taillights. Is it possible to caress a car? Yet there are those baffling few who peer at the CLS and vocalize disdain, not lust. So the CLS is beautiful inside and out, but how does it drive? Well, unsurprisingly, a lot like the E, but a notch sportier. The bigger wheels with meatier tires grab the ground for 0.87 g of adhesion, a big improvement over the 0.81 g put forth by the E500 [C/D, November 2002], a car that seems more prone to understeer than the CLS. But even though it's as grippy as its CLK55 AMG brother, the CLS500 is still not as tenacious as the 645Ci, which registered 0.94 g on the skidpad ["High- End Sports Coupes," C/D, May 2004]. The CLS's power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering feels less cumbersome than the E's, as if it were feathered a step or two, delivering a deliciously light effort at low speeds but still a relatively firm, responsive feel as the digits climb. The ride is similar to the E's, which is to say it can be elevated from plush to taut at the push of a console-mounted button. The adjustable Airmatic DC dampers offer three shock settings—comfort, sport 1, and THE VERDICT sport 2—enabling the driver to tailor road feel to his or her mood. Whereas in the 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS500 E the system sometimes feels as if the stiffest setting should be deleted and an even softer base setting should be added, in the sportier CLS the trio of choices seems perfectly appropriate. Much of the CLS's sporty nature comes from sensations inside the cockpit. Aim your eyes straight ahead, and there's no remnant of the severely sloped hood to impede your view of the road, not to mention an annoying three-pronged ornament as on an E-class. Peripherally, though, it's a different story, in which the sharply raked A-pillars and low-slung roofline eliminate some useful sightlines. That said, the capsule-like feeling they impart does seem to convey a sense of speed. Outside or inside, the CLS feels clean and sleek, like a high-end sports coupe, er, sedan, should. At 4048 pounds, our CLS500 was Highs: Stunning shape, stirring burdened with 79 extra pounds performance, stylish cabin. compared with the E500 we tested in '02. Yet armed with Mercedes' new-for- Lows: The decklid badge is like a 2004 seven-speed automatic, it proved blemish on an otherwise perfect skin, to be substantially quicker, ripping from electrohydraulic brakes still a few 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds, 0.3 second tweaks shy of perfection. sooner than the five-speed E. (But a current E-class with the seven-speed The Verdict: A styling tour de force would most likely match the CLS's inside and out. numbers.) The CLS500's quarter-mile time comes in at 14 seconds flat at 100 mph, putting it ahead of the E500 (14.3 at 99) and just behind the 325-hp 645Ci (13.9 at 102). The Benz stopped from 70 mph in 162 feet. An E500 requires 181 feet, and a 645Ci, 169. Although powerful and fade-free, the brake-by-wire binders are not easy to modulate smoothly, often causing lurches even when we were consciously judicious with our pedal input. Mercedes has improved the logic of the electrohydraulic brakes since their inception in the current-generation SL-class, but the system is still not ideal. When it comes to the CLS500, it's hard to imagine a car that is faster and better-looking, although AMG's tuned-up CLS55 arguably accomplishes that feat. Nonetheless, the CLS500 is an eminently quick and sporty four-door. And it looks so fine, it begs the question: Do you really want to travel so quickly that passersby don't even have a chance to feel envy? COUNTERPOINT DAVE VANDERWERP With the CLS came my first interaction with Mercedes' Keyless Go, one of many systems that enable the owner to lock, unlock, start, and stop the car without ever removing the key from his or her pocket. Mercedes' approach, however, incorporates major annoyance with this minor convenience. Open the door, and incessant beeping ensues while a message is displayed: "Don't forget the key." How could I forget it if it's in my pocket? The same beeping and warning message happens when exiting the car, even though it's impossible to lock the fob inside. My suggestion: "Warningless Go," not the $1080 Keyless Go. CSABA CSERE I'm really torn about this CLS500. On one hand, I'm bowled over by its beautiful lines and grand interior. On the other hand, I'm not much for the chopped-and- channeled look that greatly restricts the view adults have from the back seat. The huge gap between the front doors and the C-pillar also bothers me. Despite the low roofline, however, the driver's view is excellent and the car drives as well as the E500 on which it is based—it even seems to ride better. Still, I find something contrived about taking an E500 and dressing it up in haute couture. But if you love the look and have the extra eight grand, you'll be happy with the CLS. TONY QUIROGA The CLS feels like the spiritual descendant of the coach-built cars from the first half of the 20th century. Back then you'd buy a powertrain and frame, carefully select your coachbuilder, work with the designers, and months later your creation would roll forth into your life. A high price ensured exclusivity, and your taste dictated the styling. Here we have the 21st century mass-produced version of this process. The CLS sports a couture design that shares much of its internals with the handsome, conventional E-class—an ideal starting place. The details of the CLS are unique, often flamboyant, and make the owner feel special. It's this feeling that truly connects this modern car to its commissioned forebears. 2006 MERCEDES-BENZ CLS500 Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 4-door sedan Price as tested: $74,500 Price and option breakdown: base Mercedes-Benz CLS500 (includes $1300 gas-guzzler tax and $720 freight), $66,920; heated and ventilated front seats, $1270; Lighting package (includes headlamp washers, bixenon headlights, and cornering lights), $1220; Keyless Go, $1080; Entertainment package (includes Harman/Kardon stereo with in-dash 6-CD changer), $980; Trim package (wood-and-leather-covered steering wheel and shift knob), $890; massaging driver's seat, $590; massaging front-passenger's seat, $590; power trunklid, $510; power rear-window shade, $450 Major standard accessories: power windows, seats, locks, and sunroof; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting and telescoping steering wheel; rear defroster Sound system: Harman/Kardon AM-FM radio/CD changer, 10 speakers ENGINE Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads Bore x stroke: 3.82 x 3.30 in, 97.0 x 84.0mm Displacement: 303 cu in, 4966cc Compression ratio: 10.0:1 Fuel-delivery system: port injection Valve gear: chain-driven single overhead cams, 3 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters Power (SAE net): 302 bhp @ 5600 rpm Torque (SAE net): 339 lb-ft @ 2700 rpm Redline: 6400 rpm DRIVETRAIN Transmission: 7-speed automatic with manumatic shifting Final-drive ratio: 2.65:1 Gear - Ratio - Mph/1000 rpm - Max test speed I - 4.38 - 6.1 - 39 mph (6400 rpm) II - 2.86 - 9.3 - 60 mph (6400 rpm) III - 1.92 - 13.9 - 89 mph (6400 rpm) IV - 1.37 - 19.4 - 124 mph (6400 rpm) V - 1.00 - 26.6 - 130 mph (4900 rpm) VI - 0.82 - 32.4 - 130 mph (4000 rpm) VII - 0.73 - 36.4 - 130 mph (3550 rpm) DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 112.4 in Track, front/rear: 62.7/63.1 in Length/width/height: 193.3/73.7/55.2 in Ground clearance: 5.7 in Drag area, Cd (0.31) x frontal area (23.9 sq ft): 7.4 sq ft Curb weight: 4048 lb Weight distribution, F/R: 51.0/49.0% Curb weight per horsepower: 13.4 lb Fuel capacity: 21.1 gal CHASSIS/BODY Type: unit construction with 2 rubber-isolated subframes Body material: welded steel stampings INTERIOR SAE volume, front seat: 50 cu ft rear seat: 42 cu ft luggage: 16 cu ft Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support, lower side bolsters Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags rear: manual 3-point belts, side and curtain airbags SUSPENSION Front: ind; 1 control arm, 1 lateral link, and 1 diagonal link per side; self-leveling air springs; 3-position cockpit-adjustable, electronically controlled shock absorbers; anti-roll bar Rear: ind; 1 control arm, 1 lateral link, 2 diagonal links, and 1 toe-control link per side; self-leveling air springs; 3-position cockpit-adjustable, electronically controlled shock absorbers; anti-roll bar STEERING Type: rack-and-pinion with variable hydraulic power assist Steering ratio: 14.7:1 Turns lock-to-lock: 2.8 Turning circle curb-to-curb: 36.8 ft BRAKES Type: electrohydraulic with anti-lock control Front: 13.0 x 1.3-in vented disc Rear: 11.8 x 0.9-in vented disc WHEELS AND TIRES Wheel size: F: 8.5 x 18 in, R: 9.5 x 18 in Wheel type: cast aluminum Tires: Continental SportContact 2; F: 245/40ZR-18 93Y, R: 275/35R-18 95Y Test inflation pressures, F/R: 32/36 psi Spare: high-pressure compact C/D TEST RESULTS ACCELERATION: Seconds Zero to 30 mph: 1.9 40 mph: 2.8 50 mph: 4.0 60 mph: 5.5 70 mph: 7.1 80 mph: 9.1 90 mph: 11.3 100 mph: 14.0 110 mph: 17.3 120 mph: 21.3 130 mph: 26.4 Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.7 Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 3.1 50-70 mph: 3.8 Standing 1/4-mile: 14.0 sec @ 100 mph Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph BRAKING 70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 162 ft HANDLING Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g Understeer: minimal moderate excessive FUEL ECONOMY (MFR'S EST) EPA city driving: 16 mpg EPA highway driving: 22 mpg C/D-observed: 23 mpg INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL Idle: 42 dBA Full-throttle acceleration: 72 dBA 70-mph cruising: 69 dBA COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features Mercedes-Benz CLS500, CLS55 AMG, AND SLK55 AMG The Germans try thinking like Italians. BY AARON ROBINSON December 2004 Strength, durability, rationality. After more than a century of building cars guided by such forthright German principles, Mercedes-Benz has lately become enamored with another, slightly more Italian idea: loveliness. Not to imply that Gottlieb D.'s boys haven't built a few lookers through the years—the 1955 300SL Gullwing, for example. But when the head office has asked for four doors, the designers have usually answered with flat sides, large trunks, spacious back seats, and workman-like cockpits. German convention holds that cars should be practical and a Mercedes even more so. With the CLS, Mercedes tells German convention to shove it. Chasing sunbeams around the hills north of Rome—where else but Italy would Mercedes choose to introduce its most Latin car?—the CLS500 proved it should be driven in rotation with an E500 to discern any real differences between the two. Agility, stability, straight-line gallop, and a certain remoteness to the controls are hallmarks of every big Benz, and the CLS500 is no different. It is immensely competent but apparently no feistier than the E-class or, for that matter, the 645Ci. The job of being feisty falls to the CLS55 AMG. Medicated with 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8, the CLS55 should rumble its way to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds, predicts Mercedes. Again, nothing much is new here besides the shapely body. The engine and its five-speed automatic carry over from other AMG projectiles, including the E55 and SL55. The eight-piston calipers and drilled brake rotors—14.2 inches of hugeness in front, 13.0 in back—come from the SL55. Hunkier plastic in the nose, along the sills, and on the tail, with its small spoiler and underbody tray, joins with 19-inch five- spoke wheels to salt in the visual wow. Alcantara pseudo-suede in four available color combinations accents the seats, and brushed aluminum the dashboard. An AMG steering wheel, doorsills, and instrument cluster complete the trim-out. Mercedes plans to keep the CLS55's price premium over the base car about the same as the E55's, or $24,300. That should put the CLS55 at about $90,000 when it makes it to the U.S. in March. Only 1500 units per year will sail for America. While it had our attention (and it definitely did), Mercedes showed us the SLK55 AMG, which went on sale in October for about $55,000 (Mercedes is keeping pricing secret for all its new models). Revamped this year with an all-new body and a remarkably improved chassis, the SLK roadster gets a nonsupercharged version of the 5.4-liter V-8 billed at 355 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The power goes aft through a seven-speed automatic to a reinforced differential fitted with an oil cooler. Bimetallic brake rotors, similar to the SL65's, feature a steel disc bolted to an aluminum hub to fight fade, curtail warping, and reduce weight. And there will be plenty of speed to scrub off, thanks to furious acceleration (60 mph in a claimed 4.7 seconds) and a suspension that says, "Let's fool around!" Some quick racetrack laps had the SLK55 doing all the right moves: precision path control, throttle-assisted steering, and fierce grip. A German Ferrari? Team Stuttgart is definitely getting closer. Germans thinking like Italians. This could be big. MERCEDES-BENZ CLS500/CLS55 AMG Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 4-door sedan Estimated base price: $65,000-$90,000 Engines: SOHC 24-valve 5.0-liter V-8, 302 hp, 339 lb-ft; supercharged and intercooled SOHC 24-valve 5.4-liter V-8, 469 hp, 516 lb-ft Transmissions: 5- or 7-speed automatic with manumatic shifting Wheelbase: 112.4 in Length/width/height: 193.4-193.5/73.7/54.7 in Curb weight: 4000-4300 lb Manufacturer's performance ratings: Zero to 60 mph: 4.5-5.9 sec Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph Projected fuel economy (mfr's est): European combined: 17-21 mpg MERCEDES-BENZ SLK55 AMG Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door roadster Estimated base price: $55,000 Engine type: SOHC 24-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection Displacement: 332 cu in, 5439cc Power (SAE net): 355 bhp @ 5750 rpm Torque (SAE net): 376 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm Transmission: 7-speed automatic with manumatic shifting Wheelbase: 95.7 in Length/width/height: 160.9/70.6/50.0 in Curb weight: 3400 lb Manufacturer's performance ratings: Zero to 60 mph: 4.7 sec Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph Projected fuel economy (mfr's est): European combined: 20 mpg COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features 2005 Charting the Changesâ€”Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz October 2004 Mercedes-Benz is flooding the zone with new models and engines. Heading the list is the SLR McLaren supercar, with its carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, ceramic disc brakes, 617-hp engine, and equally stunning price of $452,500. On the other end of the scale is the latest generation of Mercedes' entry-level C-class sedan, coupe, and wagon family, which includes the C55 AMG and its hand-built 362-hp V-8. Also brand-new is the SLK350, a retractable hardtop roadster that comes with a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions. The SL65 AMG and the CL65 AMG are both powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12 that puts out an eye-popping 604 horses and 738 pound-feet of torque [see Technical Highlight below], and the SLK55 AMG has a 362-hp V-8. The boxy G-class SUV also gets an AMG model, the G55, which is powered by a supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 rated at 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The CLS500 four-door sedan debuts with a 302-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 and seven-speed automatic. And the E-class adds the E320 CDI, which is powered by a diesel engine that delivers 27 mpg city and 37 highway. Unchanged: CLK-class, M-class. Dead: C32 AMG, C230K, SLK230 Kompressor, SLK320, CL55 AMG, SL55 AMG, SLK32 AMG. Future: The C230K will be replaced by a new B-class, which is based on the company's diminutive European A-class platform. Also expect a redesigned, bigger S-class sedan. Next year, the Alabama plant cranks up for the second-generation M-class, the next G-class, and an all-new R-class range of SUVs coming from the same platform. AMG is also preparing its version of the CLS500—the CLS65—which will share its 604-hp V-12 with the CL65 and SL65 and carry a six-figure price. TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHT: Mercedes let loose its performance department, AMG, on the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-12, and the result is an utterly fantastic powerplant. With a bump in bore from 82.0 to 82.6mm and a stroke increase from 87.0 to 93.0mm, AMG increased displacement to 6.0 liters. It also significantly raised boost pressure from 14.5 psi to 21.8. Although the SOHC twin-spark-plug, three-valve-per-cylinder arrangement remains, horsepower jumps from an already ludicrous 493 to an astounding 604. The torque numbers are even crazier—738 pound-feet, up from 590. A Ferrari Enzo has 650 horsepower and a piddling 485 pound-feet. In fact, the uprated V-12 is capable of developing an additional 150 pound-feet of torque, but the five-speed automatic wouldn't be able to handle it. Select another manufacturer COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features Euro Fancy Coupes We wring out four 12-cylinder grand tourers on the Continent and figure out what matters most: style and image, or the numbers. BY RAY HUTTON, TONY QUIROGA, PETER ROBINSON AND LARRY WEBSTER August 2004 No need to explain why we put these cars together. Here are four high-end, highly desirable front-engined coupes, each with a 12-cylinder engine of 5.5-plus liters of displacement, a power output between 444 and 551 horsepower, and four seats. These are the new grand tourers as the term was understood before it was debased by being commonly attached to regular sedans. But the original purpose of a GT car—the crossing of continents at high speeds and in great comfort—is an anachronism today. In the 1930s, Bentleys raced the Blue Train from Paris to Nice on France's Côte d'Azur. Today's Bentleys are more likely to be delivering the owner to his or her executive jet. Speed limits and traffic density make long-distance road travel at 150 mph somewhat impractical and, in most places, illegal. The highway was no place to verify the exalted performance claims for these cars, so we rented the Vairano proving ground near Milan, owned by the Italian magazine Quattroruote, where it was possible to measure acceleration up to and including 150 mph, as well as conduct all our other test procedures. The Vairano straight, at 1.2 miles, was not long enough for maximum flat-out runs, but having confirmed all four manufacturers' claims for acceleration, we feel confident in quoting their top-speed figures, which, let's face it, are largely academic anyway. We can't imagine many Bentley owners, or even those who buy this kind of Ferrari, venturing close to 200 mph, but they just might want to go faster than the Mercedes' self-imposed 155-mph limit. In two evenings at the Castello di Luzzano near Pavia, partaking of local pasta and malvasia, the delicious white wine of the house, we argued long and hard over these GTs, which are so similar in specification yet so different in character. Do usable and comfortable rear seats matter? Is an automated manual transmission, as used by the Ferrari, appropriate for a car like this, or are the torque-converter automatics of the others a better proposition? With so much power available, is weight important, and if so, should we give extra kudos to the Aston and Ferrari for being aluminum? Then again, maybe none of this matters as much as do style and image, in which case, we all agreed, the Aston would win hands down. As you will see, it didn't work out that way. When it came to the numbers crunch, the most expensive contender won, and the most practical car was a close second. Here's why: —Ray Hutton Fourth Place Bentley Continental GT The highly anticipated Continental GT is the first Bentley conceived under the Bentley Continental GT auspices of the Volkswagen Group. Built on the same platform as the VW über- sedan, the Phaeton, the Bentley is in many ways its own car, but at the same time, many of the faults and characteristics of the Phaeton are not watered down enough to be concealed. The main drawback of the Phaeton's steel platform is weight. At 5358 pounds, the Bentley is more than 800 pounds heavier than the next-heaviest CL600. It could be argued that a lot of a Bentley's ponderous feel is due to its massive weight, and within this comparatively lithe group, the Continental struggles like a linebacker among receivers. Not a moment goes by when one isn't reminded of its bulk. Handling is deliberate. In tight corners, the 275/40ZR-19 Pirelli P Zeros object as Highs: Stylish inside and out, skilled- loudly as overpaid lawyers until the proceedings slow to a crawl. Part of the craftsman build quality, roomy trunk. problem is that the engine is mounted almost entirely fore of the front-axle line, so the car carries 58 percent of its weight up front. That, combined with the Lows: Ponderous and overweight, massively dense and cube-like W-12 configuration, which leads to a high center cramped rear headroom, pillbox visibility of gravity, results in a vehicle with the characteristics of a front-drive car even fore-and-aft. though it has all-wheel drive. There is no chance of getting the rear wheels loose under power, but the Continental will understeer predictably all day long. The Verdict: A whale of a car, just not a Steering is similarly dull and lifeless, which led our drivers to agree that this is whale of fun. not a sporting car. It follows orders, but there is little joy along the way. With 551 horsepower onboard, you'd expect your back to leave a permanent imprint in the redolent leather seats. But the Bentley has the worst power-to-weight ratio of the group and therefore suffers in acceleration tests. Winding out the twin-turbo W- 12 isn't particularly satisfying, either. There are no bad sounds, just the mellow thrum of siamesed VR6s at moderate speeds, replaced by a wheezy rush near redline that mimics the sound of an incoming ocean wave just as it crashes over your head. At triple-digit speeds, the engine settles into a muted rumble, and only a wisp of wind noise around the A-pillars gives any indication of how much air is being displaced. As one would expect of a Bentley, the interior looks like a doctoral thesis from the school of tanning arts. This is what it must feel like to sit inside a Coach wallet—you feel like money. The fit and finish approaches perfection, every seam aligned, every hide flawless. If you've ever driven a Phaeton, some parts of this Bentley may look familiar. The infotainment center is lifted from the VW, albeit with bespoke switchgear, and the gauges are Phaeton-spec except for the chosen font. Back-seat room is disappointing. The seats are comfortable, and there is decent legroom if the front-seat passenger is accommodating, but there is not enough headroom to be considered comfortable. Get used to seeing the fine Bentley interior because it's not easy to see out. The view through the windshield is blocked by the high dash and wide A-pillars. The C-pillars restrict the view out back and keep you guessing as to what's behind. This is the product of the high-beltline, low-roof exterior styling. The swept-back shape is elegant and aggressive, but in this company, the Bentley comes off as a whale among sharks, and whales don't win comparison tests.—Tony Quiroga Third Place Aston Martin DB9 The Aston won the beauty segment of this contest. Even the Italians seemed to Aston Martin DB9 think so, judging by the smiles and envious stares from the local populace, who naturally were partisans for the Scaglietti. The DB9 is the first of a new deal from Aston—its bonded aluminum "VH" platform will eventually be used for the entire three-model range. The 5.9-liter V-12 engine is shared with the more expensive Vanquish. The transmission is the now-ubiquitous ZF six-speed automatic (the Bentley has one), but the Aston is unique in positioning it at the differential. The result is a nearly even front-to- rear weight distribution. This is the lightest and smallest car of the crowd, so it is not surprising that space inside, and in the trunk, is smallest. The DB9 has nicely shaped rear seats, Highs: Highly sexy, aluminum but no adult would want to go there. To be fair to Aston, chief executive Ulrich construction, balanced handling, good Bez claims the DB9 is a sports car, not a GT, and its base price is nearly auto/manual compromise. $100,000 lower than that of the larger and more accommodating Ferrari 612. Lows: Claustrophobic cabin, laughable Some found it difficult to achieve a comfortable driving position, and others rear seats, electronic gremlins. complained of poor visibility because of that long, steeply raked windshield and high dashboard. But this author, who drove the Aston 900 miles from England to The Verdict: An intimate relationship Italy, reckoned it was the nicest of the four cars to be in. with an Aston Martin dealer could be an advantage. All our drivers praised its excellent handling. "Terrific body control," wrote Robinson. And it was good to see that Aston has the confidence to offer just one damper setting for all reasons—no variable damping or sport mode for its suspension. The ride is firm but never jarringly so. Our only question in this regard is the high steering effort required at low speeds. Two drivers noted that it "didn't seem like 444 horsepower," but that is probably because the engine lacks the amazing low-down torque of the Bentley and Mercedes and has to be worked harder to go as quickly. That at least provided an excuse to rev it beyond 4000 rpm, where the engine note changes from moderato to a glorious fortissimo. Touchtronic, Aston Martin's control strategy for the ZF automatic, provides no central selector lever, simply PRND buttons on the dashboard on either side of the glass starter button. The paddles behind the steering wheel can be used at any time, and when they are, the Aston stays in manual mode until you press the D button again. Slick manual downshifts are accompanied by a satisfying electronically produced throttle blip, but kickdowns in automatic mode are surprisingly abrupt. Although well-presented, the Aston gave a nagging feeling of being not quite finished. The steering column shuddered over bumps, and there was an unseemly "grunching" noise at the limits of steering lock. Then the dashboard warning lights and messages started to illuminate and extinguish at random, and occasionally, the instruments would stop working. Having established that this was a failure of the display rather than the vehicle systems, we learned to ignore it, but as Webster said, "It's hard to enjoy a car that tells you its brakes have failed." And to cap it off, on the last day of our test, the Aston wouldn't start. It had apparently suffered an electrical failure overnight. On later examination, Aston told us the battery-disablement switch was operating inadvertently. It says something for the beguiling beauty and driving qualities of this car that it still scored so high in the gotta-have-it category. In fact, two of our test drivers declared that, despite its problems, the DB9 would be their personal choice. —RH Second Place Mercedes-Benz CL600 Here's where you start fuming that the Benz's stat sheet alone should have put it Mercedes-Benz CL600 in first place—easily. It's just about as quick as the Ferrari, has a roomier interior and tons more features, and is half the price. The Benz surprised and impressed all of us. Although we initially complained about the unavailability of the CL65 and its 738 pound-feet of torque, the second-stringer in the CL lineup is no feeble little brother. The CL600's 590 pound-feet of torque is a stunning 111 more than the Bentley's, and the Benz's 493 horsepower is just 58 behind the Bentley's. Moreover, despite the twin turbos forcing air into the 12 cylinders, we defy anyone to say it feels like a turbocharged car. It emits almost no turbo sound, and throttle response is simply superb. The five-speed automatic transmission may not have the bragging rights of a sixth gear, but five is all it needs. The Highs: Locomotive thrust, most serene Ferrari has a 16-percent-better power-to-weight ratio, yet the Benz equaled the and practical in this group, great active Scag's 4.3-second 0-to-60-mph sprint. The CL's 2.4-second lunge from 30 to 50 suspension, adult-size back seat, gobs of mph is 0.1 second slower than the Ferrari's, and its 50-to-70 time is a half- goodies for the dough. second better. Punch the gas in this mutha and you're gone. Lows: Almost disappears in the Then there's the semiactive hydraulic suspension. It's a system of sensors and automotive landscape, emotionally computer-controlled hydraulic rams and shocks at all four corners. It can unavailable compared with the red- instantly adjust from cushy soft for soaking up bumps to sports-car stiff to blooded Italian, inconsistent brake feel. reduce body lean in corners. It's not perfect—some abrupt freeway impacts send jitters through the body—but in general, it works fantastically. The CL digs into The Verdict: A wonderfully effective road corners with a surprising amount of bite and enthusiasm. One tester wrote, car for those who never say, "Hey, look "Wow, very impressive in the turns, feels almost as agile and frisky as the at me!" Ferrari." The Benz also has a wonderful talent for inhaling large dips and wallops and exhaling mere nudges to the occupants. Although the steering is a tad numb, it has good on-center feel. All these cars are secure and comfy on the highway, but somehow the Benz is a tick better. Get it on the freeway, and it practically locks itself into its lane. We also thought the Mercedes had the best back seat, and the Benz alone had such features as cooled front seats, radar- controlled cruise control, a sunroof, and power trunk and door closers. In the value game, even some six-figure cars are better than others. The brakes still need work, however. Although they were effective—the 165-foot stop from 70 mph was second best—their feel and modulation were unnatural and inconsistent. We found during hard driving that the pedal travel and stiffness seemed to vary from one press to the next. They cost the Mercedes three points to the Ferrari, which won by only four. In purely objective terms, the Benz was the winner. But when it came time to hand out points for the subjective gotta-have-it and fun-to-drive categories—worth 50 points combined—the Benz garnered 34 and the Ferrari a best-in-test 45. Of course, the Ferrari costs about double and its straight-line performance was not demonstrably better. The Mercedes, however, simply didn't have the emotional tug that's an integral part of the other cars here, and this has to be considered with any car that costs more than 100 grand. The why is hard to pinpoint, but certainly, the CL600 is styled too closely to "mainstream" Benz sedans. It's handsome enough, but it almost disappears when it's next to the three others, especially that gorgeous Aston. We couldn't ignore the Benz's talents, though, so second place it is. Let the letters fly. —Larry Webster First Place Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 The Scaglietti's eye-watering $260,000 base price is a cool 100 grand above its Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 rivals'. Drive our quartet hard, and no justification for the extra bucks seems necessary, the Ferrari oozing character and dynamic ability to elevate the entire experience beyond its rivals'. Maranello's biggest model is longer than an E-class Mercedes and wider than an S-class, and weighs 4123 pounds. By any measure this is a big coupe. Yet the four-seater 612 Scaglietti drives like a lightweight roadster, delivers blistering near-as-dammit 200-mph performance, and always feels light on its feet, dancing from one apex to the next. Noted one tester, "If you told me the 612 was half as small and half the weight of the Bentley, I'd believe you." No mystery. In the interests of agility and traction, Ferrari moved the now 533- hp, 5.7-liter V-12, little modified from the 575M Maranello, behind the front axle Highs: Virtuoso drive stirs the soul, to give the aluminum-bodied 612 the rearward weight bias of a mid-engined car agility cloaks size, surprisingly spacious and dictate the clumsy long-hood, cab-rearward proportions. cabin. Lows: Disappointing styling inside and The nimbleness and immediacy center around steering that doesn't artificially out, are-they-serious price, monstrous load up. Feedback is real, and the steering is accurate, sensitive, and quick, so thirst. the 612 takes on an aura of agility that excuses a touch of kickback. Set the adaptive dampers to sport, and the Ferrari is blindingly quick and brilliantly The Verdict: If money is not an issue, composed, capable of carrying more speed into and out of corners than the this is your four-seater GT. competition, the handling poise and neutrality straining the concept of understeer or oversteer. Wet roads need caution. Even 55 percent of mass over the rear wheels can't prevent the tail stepping sideways in tight corners, before the stability control abruptly shuts down power. Deactivate the stability control, and the drive is exhilarating. Ferrari's V-12 continues to be an astonishing engine, equally at ease at 2000 rpm in top gear as it is plundering the 7600-rpm fuel cutoff. Power builds consistently to the accompaniment of a growing, single-pitch mechanical bellow that is both exhaust and top-end engine noise—all those whirring cams and gears. Low gearing helps the performance. Even so, short-shift through the gears, and the Ferrari is at 125 mph by the time you're in sixth. Ferrari has improved the shift quality of the F1 gearbox to the point it is now much better than just acceptable, if the driver accepts that seamless upward changes require feathering the throttle in sync with any finger-tip paddle movement. No matter how fast you go, stopping is never a problem. Forget fade. The brakes will haul the 612 down from triple-digit speeds all day. Thanks to a deep windshield, wide cabin, and low dash, the interior feels spacious and airy. The immediate perception is of a simple cockpit with little more than the bare essentials. Leather aside, it's far from opulent. The front seats do a great job of holding and supporting their occupants, and the driving position is terrific. Heavily dished rear buckets are tight around the hips, and only with splayed knees is there space enough for two tall adults. Some test drivers found the dashboard messy, a confusion of too many colors and materials, and criticized the Pontiac-like vents. Probably the most dimensionally accommodating Ferrari ever, the only thing standing between the 612 and legendary status is the unconvincing styling. Happily, behind the wheel, any aesthetic reservations fade as the Scag shrugs off the competition. —Peter Robinson Aston Martin Bentley Ferrari Mercedes DB9 Continental 612 CL600 GT Vehicle base price $161,350 $156,285 $260,000* $130,070 price as tested $165,125 $158,969 $270,000* $135,660 Dimensions, inches: length 184.9 189.1 193.0 196.4 width 73.8 75.5 77.0 73.1 height 51.9 54.7 52.9 55.4 wheelbase 107.9 108.1 116.1 113.6 track, front/rear 61.7/61.5 63.9/63.3 66.5/64.6 62.1/62.1 weight, pounds 4013 5358 4123 4542 weight distribution, % 50.6/49.4 58.0/42.0 44.9/55.1 52.4/47.6 front/rear fuel tank, gallons 22.5 23.8 28.5 23.2 recommended octane 91 91 91 91 rating Interior volume, inches: front 50 54 53 53 rear 18 36 36 36 trunk 6 13 9 12 Chassis front suspension control arms, coil springs, multilink, air control arms, coil multilink, coil and anti-roll bar springs, anti-roll springs, anti-roll bar hydraulic springs bar rear suspension control arms, coil springs, multilink, air control arms, coil multilink, coil and anti-roll bar springs, anti-roll springs, anti-roll bar hydraulic springs bar front brakes vented disc vented disc vented disc vented disc rear brakes vented disc vented disc vented disc vented disc anti-lock control yes yes yes yes stability control yes yes yes yes tires Bridgestone Potenza Pirelli P Zero Pirelli P Zero Rosso; F: Michelin Pilot Sport; F: RE050A; F: 235/40ZR-19 Rosso, 275/40ZR- 245/45ZR-18 100Y, R: 245/45ZR-18 96Y, R: 92Y, R: 275/35ZR-19 96Y 19 105Y 285/40ZR-19 103Y 265/40ZR-18 97Y braking, 70-0, feet 170 176 157 165 test average 167 roadholding, 300-foot 0.96 0.87 0.99 0.92 skidpad, g test average 0.94 lane change, mph 60.3 57.4 64.2 59.0 test average 60.2 Powertrain engine type DOHC 48-valve V-12 twin-turbo DOHC DOHC 48-valve V-12 twin-turbo SOHC 36- 48-valve W-12 valve V-12 displacement, cu in 362 (5935) 366 (5998) 351 (5748) 336 (5513) (cc) power, bhp @ rpm 444 @ 6000 551 @ 6100 533 @ 7250 493 @ 5000 torque, lb-ft @ rpm 420 @ 5000 479 @ 1600 434 @ 5250 590 @ 1800 redline, rpm 6800 6500 7500 5800 lb per bhp 9.0 9.7 7.7 9.2 drivetrain transmission 6-sp auto 6-sp auto 6-sp automated man 5-sp auto driven wheels rear all rear rear gear ratios:1 4.17, 2.34, 1.52, 1.14, 4.17, 2.34, 1.52, 3.15, 2.18, 1.57, 1.19, 3.59, 2.19, 1.41, 1.00, 0.87, 0.69 1.14, 0.87, 0.69 0.94, 0.76 0.83 axle ratio:1 3.15 3.52 4.18 2.65 mph/1000 rpm 5.8, 10.4, 16.0, 21.3, 5.4, 9.7, 14.9, 6.1, 8.9, 12.4, 16.4, 8.1, 13.2, 20.5, 29.0, 28.1, 35.2 19.9, 26.1, 32.9 20.7, 25.6 34.9 C/D test results acceleration, seconds 0-60 mph 4.5 4.9 4.3 4.5 test average 4.5 0-100 mph 10.3 12.1 9.4 9.8 test average 10.4 0-150 mph 25.6 31.3 20.8 23.7 test average 25.4 1/4-mile @ mph 12.9 @ 112 13.4 @ 106 12.5 @ 119 12.6 @ 115 test average 12.9 @ 113 rolling 5-60 mph 5.1 5.5 4.9 4.5 test average 5.0 top gear 30-50 mph 2.9 3.0 2.3 2.4 test average 2.7 50-70 mph 3.0 3.3 3.1 22.6 test average 3.0 top speed, mph 186 (est) 198 (est) 192 (redline ltd) 155 (gov) test average 183 sound level, dBA idle 52 47 53 43 test average 49 full-throttle 86 75 81 68 test average 78 70-mph cruise 74 67 71 65 test average 69 fuel economy, mpg EPA city 12* 11 11 13 test average 12 EPA highway 19* 18 17 19 test average 18 C/D 300-mile trip 11 9 10 11 test average 10 *C/D estimated. Results vehicle driver comfort (10) 8 8 9 9 front-seat space* (10) 6 10 9 9 ergonomics (10) 7 8 8 8 rear-seat comfort (5) 1 3 4 5 rear-seat space* (5) 1 4 5 5 trunk space* (5) 3 5 4 5 features/amenities* 6 9 7 10 (10) fit and finish (10) 7 10 8 10 styling (10) 10 8 6 6 value (10) 8 8 5 9 total (85) 57 73 65 76 powertrain engine output* (10) 7 9 8 9 performance* (10) 8 6 10 10 throttle response (10) 9 8 10 10 engine NVH (10) 8 7 9 9 transmission (10) 9 9 8 9 total (50) 41 39 45 47 chassis performance* (10) 8 6 10 8 steering feel (10) 8 7 10 8 brake feel (10) 9 8 10 7 handling (10) 9 6 10 9 ride (10) 8 8 8 10 total (50) 42 35 48 42 gotta-have-it factor 20 17 21 16 (25) fun to drive (25) 20 15 24 18 grand total (235) 180 179 203 199 finishing order 3 4 1 2 *These objective scores are calculated from the vehicles' dimensions, capacities, and/or test results. COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Here we were thinking the supercharged V-8 was strong. BY BARRY WINFIELD November 2003 The Mercedes-Benz relationship with its performance partner, AMG, is a classic Jekyll-and-Hyde, good-cop/bad-cop situation. Whereas Mercedes-Benz has to demonstrate a fair bit of corporate responsibility, AMG is pretty much free to explore over- the-top concepts. Punch the pedal to pass, and a second later the target car is backing past the right- side windows as if it had just popped a parachute. Even with the engine and transmission controls striving to smooth all of this out, an abrupt driver can produce rapidly alternating fore-and-aft accelerations, and care has to be taken to avoid them. But after a few deep digs at the throttle, resulting in multiple downshifts and eyeball-depressing launches toward the horizon, a driver learns to simply squeeze the throttle for a pass. With more than 700 pound-feet of torque twirling the rear wheels anywhere between 2000 and 4000 engine revs, downshifts are not necessary. It’s just a matter of toeing the pedal and wafting away on a smooth wave of energy. The sound emanating from the four AMG tailpipes is entirely in concert with this avalanche of power, growing from a melodic burble to a hard snarl as the revs rise. Yet the overall refinement of the car meets the best patrician expectations, and the CL65 rides and shifts smoothly, with interior noise levels that almost belie its colossal performance potential. The ride is helped enormously by Mercedes-Benz’s active-body-control system, which has been comprehensively recalibrated for its new role in the AMG car. Without having to restrain roll and pitch motions by conventional means, the engineers could strike a better ride-and-handling compromise while tuning the AMG-specific springs and struts. For a 4800-pound coupe, the CL65 has moves in the mountains that will surprise Porsche drivers. As will its braking. The front rotors are 15.4-inch units with eight-piston calipers. Expected to cost $180,000 when it arrives in the U.S. next summer, the CL65 has every creature comfort and available option that Mercedes has on offer. What the CL65 will lack is availability. Only 400 will make it to this country during the two years it will be sold here, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. MERCEDES-BENZ CL65 AMG Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe Estimated base price: $180,000 Engine type: twin-turbocharged and intercooled SOHC 36-valve V-12, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection Displacement: 365 cu in, 5980cc Power (SAE net): 604 bhp @ 4800 rpm Torque (SAE net): 738 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting Wheelbase: 113.6 in Length/width/height: 196.6/73.1/55.0 in Curb weight: 4800 lb C/D-estimated performance: Zero to 60 mph: 4.3 sec Zero to 100 mph: 9.9 sec Standing 1/4-mile: 12.7 sec @ 116 mph Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph Estimated fuel economy: European combined cycle: 16 mpg COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 3: Reviews, Road Tests and Features 5 Nubile Notables BY RAY HUTTON July 2003 Koenigsegg CC It’s an unlikely notion: a Swedish supercar. Christian von Koenigsegg of Stockholm might have found it easier to build the world’s fastest road car in Britain or Italy. But two-and-a-half years after the debut of the car at the Paris auto show, Koenigsegg has produced eight cars and has orders for 16, at e425,000 (or about $470,000) apiece. Koenigsegg’s facility was damaged by a fire this year, and as if to emphasize Sweden’s background in speed and technology, he quickly set up shop in a building at a local airport designed to house a squadron of Saab Grippen fighter jets. The CC’s 4.7-liter engine is based on a Ford Racing cylinder block made by Teksid in Italy and supercharged to produce 646 horsepower. The structure is a lightweight (137 pounds) hull, part carbon- fiber/Kevlar honeycomb, part tubular space frame. It is a big, wide two-seater with novel tip-forward doors and more creature comforts and luggage space than most others in this group. The removable roof stows neatly under the hood. Von Koenigsegg has his heart set on beating the McLaren F1’s speed record of 240 mph. We tested the prototype (November 2001), but the venue was unsuitable for top-speed measurement. More recently a high-speed test at the Nardo track in Italy had to be abandoned because of bad weather, but only after the car had reached 226 mph. The latest version of the CC V-8 has a lighter engine, insulation for the front subframe that carries the racing-type A-arm suspension, wheels 20 inches in diameter, and the option of twin fins extending from the headrest cowlings. The Cima six- speed gearbox (also used by Pagani) is now offered with automated manual operation. Koenigsegg is working on U.S. certification for the car, which already has airbags and has performed well in European Union crash tests. Spyker C8 Spyder, C8 Laviolette, and C8 Double 12R/S This is a different kind of supercar. Small, light, and exquisitely made, the Spyker C8 Spyder has been likened to an expensive mechanical watch—there are other, much cheaper products that can do its job, but they don’t have the same sense of precision, nor do they give the owner the same pleasure. The Spyker factory in Holland will make only 32 cars this year. Prices start at $250,000 for this exclusivity. Victor Muller, the Dutch entrepreneur who revived his country’s most accomplished historical marque, is sure the U.S. will become the Spyker’s biggest market. The C8 Spyder is being prepared for U.S. certification, and Muller expects to be able to deliver the first cars here in September. To recap, we first encountered the Spyker C8 at the British International Motor Show in 2000. Its chassis is a space frame made from welded aluminum sheets and extrusions. The body panels are also aluminum, hand-formed and riveted. Power comes from a 400-hp, 4.2-liter Audi V-8 mounted amidships with a six-speed transaxle. It is intended as a “pure” driving experience and does so without electronic driver aids, but it has mighty AP Racing brakes and inboard F1-style Koni adjustable shock absorbers. Weighing just 2200 pounds, the claimed top speed is 186 mph, and 0 to 60 is said to take just 4.5 seconds. From the outset, the C8 was intended to be suitable for road and track use. A special long-tail version, the C8 Double 12R, was built with an eye to Le Mans, and this has a 4.0-liter engine based on the BMW V-8. Because of the restrictors required by racing rules, the roadgoing C8 Double 12S is actually more powerful, with up to 620 horsepower; performance claims are a 214-mph top speed and a 0-to-60 time of 3.8 seconds. As Spyker’s Le Mans campaign continues, the first production C8 Double 12 road car is nearing completion. For 2004, Spyker intends to offer the C8 with a twin-turbo version of the Audi V-8, developed with Cosworth Technology, for road (TS) and racing (TR). A coupe version, with a glass canopy and periscope engine air intake, will start production this summer. Its name, Laviolette, is a tribute to the engineer responsible for the 1903 Spyker, which the company claims was the first car to have a six- cylinder engine and four-wheel drive. Pagani Zonda S 7.3 and Zonda Roadster The Pagani Zonda has a suitably exotic name for an Italian supercar. When it first appeared in 1999, cynics expected it would be just one more auto-show wonder. Now we know that Pagani has legs. Thirty-five cars have been built. With a roadster joining the original coupe, Pagani’s shop in Modena is getting close to its target of 20 cars a year. Enthusiast magazines in Europe have raved about the Zonda’s effortless performance and precise and friendly handling. Horacio Pagani is Argentine and was encouraged in his endeavors by Juan Manuel Fangio, who eased the route to Mercedes-Benz and its V-12 engines. Over time those have gone from standard SL600 motors to 7.0-liter and 7.3-liter custom- made engines from AMG. No supercharging is employed to reach 547 horsepower, which is why the Pagani’s engine is outgunned by AMG’s own CL65. It is not clear whether Pagani has verified claims of a 220-mph top speed (previously it quoted 211 mph) and a 0-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds. The coupe weighs 2850 pounds and has a carbon-fiber monocoque and race-style aluminum suspension assemblies. The Zonda S 7.3, with its rocket-cluster exhausts and narrow, confined cabin, is distinctive and purposeful rather than pretty. In our view the roadster looks worse, and its two-piece detachable roof is rudimentary. Opening up the Pagani adds a hefty $74,000 premium to the coupe’s $457,000. There are no official sales to the U.S. so far. Pagani says it is working on federal certification, but “it’s tricky.” Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG What is a bulky four-seat coupe doing in this company? We asked ourselves that, and then we looked at the numbers. The Mercedes CL65 AMG sneaked into this year’s Geneva show looking innocent enough. Mercedes’ in-house tuners produce increasingly powerful versions of nearly all its models, and there was already a 493-hp supercharged V-8 CL55 and a twin-turbo V-12 CL600 with similar output. The surprise about the CL65 is how much more powerful it is: 604 horsepower, which just happens to match exactly the output of the Carrera GT from Mercedes’ neighbor in Stuttgart. The Mercedes V-12 starts out at Maybach specifications, but its displacement is increased to 6.0 liters, and bigger turbochargers are fitted to produce more boost (22 psi). The 604 horsepower is only part of the story; the specification sheet rounds the maximum torque figure up to 1000 newton-meters (738 pound-feet). Actually, as AMG boss Ulrich Bruhnke explained, this engine can produce 885 pound-feet, but even the strengthened automatic transmission from the Maybach can’t cope with that, so the electronics reduce boost to limit the torque. Of course, the CL is a luxury tourer rather than an athlete, so this car isn’t eligible for the 200-mph club. In fact, like other Mercedes-Benzes, it is restricted to 155 mph, although AMG doesn’t need much persuading to remove the limiter, after which, we are assured, it manages 185 mph without difficulty. Zero to 60? Less than four seconds. Price? At $190,000, it almost seems a bargain in this group. So can you buy one? Officially, there’s been no decision on exporting the CL65 to the U.S., and there might be a problem, as it needs 94 octane fuel to realize its full potential. But, as Bruhnke says, “If the market wants it, they will ask.” What we want to ask is how Mercedes squares this überengine with the less powerful supercharged V-8 of the considerably more expensive Mercedes SLR. COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 4: Vehicle Quality Ratings Power Circles were designed as an easy-to-use system for rating products and services.Please note: Power Circle ratings are based on surveys sent to more than 50,000 new-vehicle owners nationwide. These ratings do not include all information used to determine J.D. Power and Associates awards. No data available for this vehicle. About J.D. Power and Associates Since 1968, J.D. Power and Associates has been conducting quality and customer satisfaction research based on survey responses from millions of consumers worldwide. We do not rely on "expert opinion." Our product and service rankings in no way reflect the opinions or preferences of the firm, and we do not review, judge or test products and services ourselves. We represent the voice of the customer by translating survey responses into information that companies worldwide use to improve quality and customer satisfaction, as well as to help consumers make better decisions. J.D. Power and Associates has developed and maintains one of the largest, most comprehensive historical customer satisfaction databases in existence, which includes feedback on virtually all aspects of the shopping, buying, and product and service ownership experience. COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 5: Crash Test Ratings Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationâ€™s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)crash tests cars, light trucks, sport-utility vehicles, and vans that are new, popular, redesigned, or have improved safety equipment. These vehicles are then rated on how well they protect drivers and passengers during frontal and side collisions. NCAP uses a five- star system for rating vehicles, with five stars indicating the highest safety rating and one star the lowest. Although it is impossible to assess how well a vehicle provides protection in all circumstances using a single test, NCAP ratings provide a useful basis for comparing vehicle safety. For more information, visit http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ FRONTAL STAR SIDE STAR RATING* RATING** ROLLOVER RESISTANCE MAKE & MODEL RATING Driver Passenger Front Seat Rear Seat 2005 MERCEDES-BENZ CL- Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Rated CLASS * Legend for NHTSA Frontal Star Rating ** Legend for NHTSA Side Star Rating 5 stars - 10% or less chance of serious injury 5 stars - 5% or less chance of serious injury 4 stars - 11% to 20% chance of serious injury 4 stars - 6% to 10% chance of serious injury 3 stars - 21% to 35% chance of serious injury 3 stars - 11% to 20% chance of serious injury 2 stars - 36% to 45% chance of serious injury 2 stars - 21% to 25% chance of serious injury 1 star - 46% or greater chance of serious injury 1 star - 26% or greater chance of serious injury Note: Frontal tests should be compared only within the same weight class or within a range of 250 pounds of the vehicle weight. About the NHTSA: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and through grants to state and local governments to enable them to conduct effective local highway safety programs. NHTSA investigates safety defects in motor vehicles, sets and enforces fuel economy standards, helps states and local communities reduce the threat of drunk drivers, promotes the use of safety belts, child safety seats and air bags, investigates odometer fraud, establishes and enforces vehicle anti-theft regulations and provides consumer information on motor vehicle safety topics. NHTSA also conducts research on driver behavior and traffic safety, to develop the most efficient and effective means of bringing about safety improvements. COMPLETE REPORT SECTION 6: Kelley Blue Book Mercdes-Benz CL55 AMG BASE Coupe 2D INVOICE Price With Destination Charge and Required Equipment 112,320.00 PRICING DETAILS AND REQUIRED MINIMUM EQUIPMENT INVOICE Base Pricing 111,600.00 Destination Charge 720.00 Required Minimum Equipment 0.00 Price with Destination Charge and Required Minimum Equipment 112,320.00 Note: Base price does not include optional equipment, advertising or other dealer costs. See links above to view and select optiona For more detailed pricing please visit www.kbb.com. OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT Engines -- \CL55 AMG STD - (N/A CL500, CL600 or CL65 AMG) -- \CL55 AMG STD - (N/A CL500, CL600 or CL65 AMG) -- V8, Supercharged, 5.5 Liter \CL55 AMG STD - (N/A CL500, CL600 or CL65 AMG) No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. Tires No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. -- (2) P245/45ZR18 Front & (2) P265/40ZR18 Rear \CL55 AMG STD - (N/A CL65 AMG) (Available & Included Only w/Sport -- (2) P245/45ZR18 Front & (2) P265/40ZR18 Rear \CL55 AMG STD - (N/A CL65 AMG) (Available & Included Only w/Sport -- (2) P245/45ZR18 Front & (2) P265/40ZR18 Rear \CL55 AMG STD - (N/A CL65 AMG) (Available & Included Only w/Sport Pkg-321 on CL500 & CL600) Includes Conventioinal Spare Tire. STANDARD EQUIPMENT Air Conditioning, Dual-Zone Automatic Alarm System Antenna, Integrated Glass Armrest, Rear w/Storage Axle Ratio, 2.65 Brakes, Power F&R Disc Braking System, Anti-Lock Clock, Digital (Stand Alone) COMAND System Communication System, TeleAid w/1-yr of Service Consoles, F&R w/Covered Storage Cup Holders, F&R Defroster, Rear Window Driver's Information Center Driver's Information System Driver's Information System, Multi Drivetrain, Rear Wheel Drive Drivetrain, RWD Engine Immobilizer Engine: V8, 24V, SFI, 5.0 Liter Engine: V8, 5.0 Liter Entry System, Illuminated Keyless Remote Control Floor Mats Floor Mats, F&R Floor Mats, HD Rubber F&R Fog Lights, F&R Fuel Filler Door Release, Power Fuel Tank, 23.2 Gal Cap Garage Door Opener Headlamp Control, Auto Headlamp Control, Automatic Headlamps, HID w/Heated Wiper/Washers Interior Trim, Wood Leveling System, Automatic Lights: Approach, Cargo Comp't, Daytime Running, Footwell, Glove Box & Reading Locking System, Central w/Automatic Door Locks Memory System, Driver's: O/S Mirrors & Steering Wheel Memory: O/S Mirrors, Front Seats & Steering Wheel Mirrors: Dual Heated Power w/Power Fold, Turn Signals & RH Tilt-Down, O/S LH & Inside Automatic Day/Night & Dual Illuminated Mirrors: Dual Heated Power w/Power Folding, Turn Signals & RH Tilt-Down, Inside & LH O/S Automatic Day/Night & Dual Illuminat Moon Roof, Power Glass Navigation System, DVD Navigation System, DVD-Based Radio System, Bose Premium AM/FM Stereo w/CD & 6-Disc CD Changer in Trunk Radio, Bose AM/FM Stereo w/CD & 6-Disc CD Changer in Trunk Restraint System: Dual Front, F&R Head Curtain & F&R Side Impact Air Bag Restraint System: Dual Front, F&R Side Impact & F&R Head Impact Air Bag Seat Adjusters, Dual 14-Way Power Seat Adjusters, Dual Power Seat Trim, Leather Seats, Heated Front Bucket Seats, Heated Front Bucket w/Memory Seats, Individual Rear Slip Control, Automatic Speed Control Stability Control, Electronic Stability Program, Electronic Stabilizer Bars, F&R Steering Wheel Touch Controls Steering Wheel, Leather & Wood w/Touch Controls Steering Wheel, Leather-Wrapped & Wood Steering Wheel, Power Tilt & Telescoping Steering Wheel, Power Tilt & Telescoping Steering, Variable Assist Power Sun Shade, Power Rear Window Suspension, High Performance Active Tachometer Telephone Pre-Wiring, Cellular Tire Pressure Monitor Tire, Conventional Spare Tires, (4) P225/55HR17 Towing Cap (Towing Not Recommended) Traction Control Trans, 7-Spd Automatic w/Overdrive & Touch Shift Trans: Automatic, 7-Spd w/Overdrive & Touch Shift Trip Computer Trip Computer, Mini Trunk Entrapment Release Trunk Release, Power W/S Wipers, Heated Rain-Sensing Intermittent Wheels, 5-Twin-Spoke Cast Aluminum Alloy Windows, Power AMG Body Enhancements: Sculpted Front Air Dam, Side Skirts & Rear Apron Braking System, AMG High Performance Engine: V8, 24V, SFI, Supercharged, 5.5 Liter Engine: V8, Supercharged, 5.5 Liter Seat Trim, Perforated Nappa Leather Seats, Active Front Ventilated Dynamic w/Multi-Contour Power Seatbacks & Massage Feature Steering Wheel, Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel, Leather-Wrapped w/Touch Controls Tires, (2) P245/45ZR18 Front & (2) P265/40ZR18 Rear Wheels, AMG Double-Spoke Monoblock Alloy Wheels, Double-Spoke AMG Monoblock Alloy Special fees, credits and incentives No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. -- V8, Supercharged, 5.5 Liter \CL500, CL55 AMG - (N/A CL600 or CL65 AMG) -- \CL500, CL55 AMG - (N/A CL600 or CL65 AMG) -- Special Order Charge \CL500, CL55 AMG - (N/A CL600 or CL65 AMG) No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle. No data for this vehicle.