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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Mercedes CL550The modern-day, high-tech $100,000 ride.
It's the official ride of the two-incomes, no-kids, no-apologies crowd, what's euphemistically called a personal luxury car. That's code for a rolling status symbol. It's the 2011 Mercedes CL 554 Matic. Let's check the tech. This is not an entirely new CL, but a heavily revives one to be sure debuted around July 2010 saucier lines, a more exotic motor, LED front lighting, yet keeping the classic values like an eye-watering base price and a gas guzzler tax. You don't buy one of these for any rational reason, but you'll sure look good being illogical. So what is a CL? It's really the spiritual successor to the original Mercedes Pimp Ride, the 560 SEC. This is where, you know, you're looking at a car that is primarily about style and not about function. This beautiful semi-elliptical pillarless opening right here is real tasty. The rear seat leg room, not real generous, I mean that passenger seats all the way back right now. You're not putting any legs behind it. And when you hop into the CL550 even despite a major redesign I got for 2011, you're gonna be quite familiar with what you're seeing. This is some classic sort of high-end Mercedes stuff. The upper half of their line looks just like this. You've got the sort of odd ball, ultra wood wheel. You've got the virtual speedometer right there, which turns into the night view assist. It's now got a plus name attached to it because it looks out 500 feet with infrared to find things based on heat signature not just visual signature and it will also call out pedestrians and animals. This controller on the left is kinda handy. Let see you go through a variety of menus. There's a ribbon there at the bottom. And because our car is loaded, we've got everything. You can show NAV prompts here, a short circuit version on what's on the big screen, your audio information, your phone state. Here is some setting from things like distance display, your safety systems. Well the attention assist tells you if you're drowsy. You see the coffee cup right there? It'll blink if it thinks you should pull over. And we have the blind spot assist and the lane keep assist. Blind spot looks out of the rear bumper with some radar sensors, I believe, to see what's in your blind spot and lights up that little pylon in the mirror when there is someone there. Lane keep assist is looking at the lane, looking at the lines ahead. This works 20 miles an hour and above and if you're drifting, you get a stick shake. You get this vibration here in the wheel. And I believe as a rolling upgrade, they'll be offering the ability for the car to yaw brake you back in to lines, so if I'm drifting out left, it'll brake just the right rear wheel a little and that will yaw the car back in. I don't believe it's enabled on this vehicle as of this production date. Navigation system is where you mostly see how that dot pitch gets a little bit crunchy. Here is where I start to see jaggies along the lines of the streets. That's a really good system with some 3D building rendering, good bird's eye, live traffic, good POI overlay. It's a good system, hard drive based, of course. It's a Harmon Kardon logic 7 system, 5.1 surround, 600 watts, 11 speakers around the cabin, that's your system, but it sounds really good; you're not gonna need anything else, which is good because there is nowhere to put it. This is a highly customized center stack, I mean, you can also add a USB pigtail or others because that connector over there is where you can change out the pigtail you've got. Now, Mercedes is currently using this kind of goofy stack on their luxury cars. This is the one that goes up for reverse. You can hear my park distance sensors. You can see my colored indicator there on the dash, showing the what's near and around the perimeter and you can see out the back what's going on with a relatively standard, relatively basic rearview camera. It doesn't turn to show me trajectory. It's got some basic markings for where are my distances are, and it doesn't add zoom, which is a gimmick, anyway, but really good visual quality. Okay, the naming story on this car is little funny. It's the CL550, but that is not a 5Â½ liter V8 as Mercedes would have done for Eons. Now, it's a new technology, 4.6 liter V8, reduced the capacity for efficiency, use twin turbos to bump up the power. We get 429 horsepower of this guy, 516-foot pounds of torque, that's a great number. With the torque that much above, the horsepower, you know you're dealing with turbos and probably a V8 as well. Zero to 60, 4.8 seconds on this big boy, which weighs over 4600 pounds before you even get in it. MPG is a little bit 15, 22, poor enough to earn it a gar guzzler tax some 1300 bucks. Now driving a CL is more like rollin that driving. This is a big ponderous car in spite all of its power and its prowess on the road, it just has the genes of rolling as opposed to driving. It's not a cotton for us heel and toe kind of experience despite twin turbo V8, which has amazing terminal velocity and an unrelenting sort of thrust to it, but it doesn't come on with any precision. It's, in fact, when you're in the E-mode, the efficiency, this button right here, it's almost scary. This car is so numb and on-and- off throttle driving. You can even negotiate city traffic with anything that I'd call precision. Moving into sport mode, things get a lot more sharp, a lot more urgent, but it's still there is something real leggy in the turbo circuit. And we've also got a lot of computer stuff going on. You can tell the drive train's thinking, the transmission in the engineering figuring out what to do. It's just sort of numb, but in a way that it's extremely competent. Does that make any sense? As part of a package with blind spot and lane drift's tech, you also get parking assistance. These tend to be real flaky in the car busi. Let's see how this one works. Okay, as part of the slot big enough for me, this little parking indicator turns blue. So I put this guy into reverse, then I hit "Okay" now it gives me that graphic, it says, "Do what's on the green lines." First it says, "Back up straight" until you come to the limit of that green line. Got it. Now it shows me to make a turn. Line up the red, which is my steering trajectory over the yellow, which is where I need to go and I follow that back to the limit line, and then it beeps again, it says, "Now, turn your wheels" the other way to match that arch, which is a little weird because my steering wheel blocks the image. This should all happen on the central LCD. And now follow it in for the final back and fill. Let see how well it does. You're just kinda creep it along here. Okay, that worked out real nicely. Okay, let's price this guy. First of all, it's well above a hundred, 150 or so, so. If you're watching this video to go shopping and you just fainted, click out and go and look at some iPhone or something. 150 and 3, that includes the shipping and the gas guzzler tax of 1300 bucks, but in this classification, you don't worry about money like that. Option-wise, 3500 bucks will get you package that includes that night-view camera, complicated massage seats with automatic contouring boosters, depending on the G-forces and the rearview cam. Three thousand dollar is actually quite a value, gets all the driver assistance stuff: the lane departure tech, the blind spot tech; it's also gonna give you that pre-safe braking, the adapted cruise controls or other stuff that helps you drive, also that parking space spotter technology. And if you add a can of STP, that valve lifter noise will go away.