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Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMGWith the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, you can have it all, but just don't expect it to be cheap.
Well, you know, it's the era of having it all, isn't it? And Mercedes apparently agrees. With this CLS63, you've AMG power and good fuel economy. You've got saucy coup lines and a door for every passenger. It's a statement and it exercise inconspicuous consumption. Let's drive this 2013 CLS63 with the AMG performance package and check the tech. Now first of all, the CLS, even before it becomes an AMG car, is kind of an exercise and very expensive Swiss army knife-making. Everything is rammed into one package-- all those attributes we just talked about. And they do a pretty good job of it, but from the outside, you might never guess this car is based on an E-Class. It's a very different look on the exterior and the massing and the proportions of it. It's also gonna fool you on the inside, where you'll find there is no such thing as a basic CLS63, as you might imagined. Everything in here is top drawer, the materials are phenomenal. It's a little on the gilded side for my taste certainly, compared to the very business-like cockpit of a BMW or an Audi. And as you can see, you're surrounded by a forest of controls. Let's get in to a few of them starting with this command control over here. This is classic Mercedes stuff, operating an interface that we've seen fairly consistently before. There's a ribbon on the top. There's sort of what I would call your content in the middle. And then there's another ribbon of settings or options on the bottom. That's the Mercedes interface. Now if you go to this globe icon on the far right, that's where the internet stuff lives. Check it out-- we've got a web browser. It's not much of one. It's a clunky thing to use because obviously it's not touchscreen-- it's a German car after all. More useful are the Mercedes-Benz apps. And here's more with quotes around them. I'm not a big fan of this app suite which is playing catch-up right now. Its competitors have been doing apps longer. Mercedes needs another rev, I think, to really get this right. The first issue you can see right there-- man this thing is slow to get a data connection. Once it does, here's what you'll get, Google local search is the most useful thing here in on its face. You've also got Yelp, Facebook, News, and this one's new, My Mercedes-Benz financial Services. You can pay your car payment from here. The local search, again long, long pause to buffer between these things-man, it will kill you. And you can search near you or along the route or some other city. Imagine typing that in at this tedious terminology. Now once I get my Google local search results, they're nicely ranked according to some logic it's clearly not by distance. I don't even wanna try and find the menu to change that. You do have Google street view and Panoramio stills from the community you'd like to look at. And this thing goes on through these different apps. The other one I'm gonna show you is Facebook. First of all, right, why Facebook in the car? And when the car is moving, you can't do much with it which is fine with me, except you can do a couple things while driving. For example, you can look at your events people have invited you to. Check out the details and RSVP to them. But you can't do anything with walls or news. Now once, you leave the interface on the head unit, which as I've shown you is kinda hit and miss. You get to some more hit and miss down here with the drive line controls. I think its excessive complication. The shifter starts off with a park button, but everything else is a shifter detent. I'm not big on those two different kinds of behaviors to do the same thing, which is control the drive line. Once you're in park and you wanna come out, you do one little detent and it hut straight to neutral. You cannot go to reverse without then going 2 detents the other way. Why is that? And then its a couple more detents down to drive, so you never know if it's one or two detents, and for some reason you gotta skip reverse on your way out of park-- made me nuts. Over here is personality knob for your power train, C is-- I call it comfort, they called it Controlled Performance or something, Sport, Sport plus, and Manual only. What this is gonna do is sharpen up throttle response, RPM holding, speed of shifts by this automated transmission, a whole variety of power delivery programs. Down here would be normally what considered a traction controlled defeat, but they actually defined it as a sport mode. Down here, this control is your adaptive suspension, which is not just shocks but also anti-sway technology to keep this guy flat as well as to firm up damper response, three modes on that. And then you've got an AMG button, which you just simply press and hold to memorize whatever you've done with everything else. It's basically like a radio preset for the drive train and suspension. Sure it's ideal if you're the very serious aggressive driver who really dials a car in specifically. But if you're doing that, do you do it on a 4,200 pound four doors Sedan? That makes no sense. Now once you open the extremely wide opening hood of this CLS63, a nice Mercedes service thing, you'll find a big old motor under here. The 63 tells you nothing on the tail, because up front we have a 5.5 Liter V8 with a turbo on each bank. We have that AMG performance package. You know it because you see a carbon fiber cover here. That means we have 560 horse, 590 foot pounds of torque-- crazy numbers. All of that gets this 4,200-pound car up to 60 in 4-1/2 seconds or a few tenths less because we got performance package, goes out through a 7-speed rear-wheel drive only-- now this is a 13. But 2014 car gets big changes. First of all, the AMG performance numbers become more or less the base power numbers. The transmission goes to a 7-speed dual clutch automated manual, and they're gonna get all-wheel drive in the mix. So, it's a very different car for 2014, just FYI. Now all of this weight, speed, and displacement should add up with some horrendous MPG figures. But it doesn't, 16/25s the EPA rating on this guy. I have driven cars much slower that used a lot more fuel, that's pretty impressive. But now the real fun of this vehicle-- put her to manual, I've drop down a couple gears. Let's hit it. Wow. This car has locomotive power, I mean just crazy power, as you can imagine from those numbers and that kind of engine architecture. However, I never found this car to really feel sharp. Powerful and sharp are two different things. This car is definitely the former. But every shift in every mode feels a little bit laggy to me, certainly even Sport plus was the surprise and then it's kind of asleep with the switch to my particular taste-- I don't know. I found myself getting on the paddles a lot, but because I wanted to, because I had to, because the shift programming was letting me down. There we go. Another one that we're almost caught flat footed, it had to unbury itself from like 7th at 55 miles an hour. This car is always trying to go along in like 1,500 RPM to save fuel. But the programming does bothers me sometimes. So inside, this is a great car for the long trip, boulevard cruising. Maybe the road has gotten a little bit of snaking to it. But if you wanna take this car out and toss around on one of those more fun smaller, twisty roads, it's not gonna make you as happy as say a BMW 640i Gran Coupe, which has a much lighter on its feet nature. Of course, all that can be forgotten when you're dropping into the third and just step on it. Okay, let's price our 2013 CLS63. This guy goes out at about 98-6 base. And that doesn't include the AMG performance package that hutter engine, that's gonna add $7,300, part of that goes to that carbon fiber cover. I'll never know how much. A package of all the driver assist technologies, active blind spot, lane departure, and adaptive cruise is little under 3 grand. All in, you've bitten off about $108,000 worth of I wanna have it all. It is all here. It's not the best execution on a lot of the technology, and it's not the kind of driving experience you may be looking for, but if you want power, elegance, practicality, and prestige, there's a lot to see here.