The V8 fitted to the Mercedes CL 500 feels as refined and smooth as any eight-cylinder petrol engine on the market, and a 0-60mph time of 4.9sec is more than acceptable. 

The spread of power from the 4.7-litre biturbo V8 is outstanding, too. Maximum shove is developed at 6000rpm but peak torque – all 516lb ft of it – arrives at 1800rpm and keeps delivering right through to 3,500rpm. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The spread of power from the 4.7-litre biturbo V8 is outstanding

A flex of the right foot is enough to haul the CL convincingly past slower traffic without triggering multiple downshifts and, although there’s a manual override for the gearbox, choosing to shift gears via the steering wheel’s buttons is something you do for enjoyment, not out of necessity. The CL 63 AMG turns the intensity up a notch, with the 5.5-litre biturbo V8 delivering a 4.5 second 0-62mph time and sounding fantastic. The throttle response is quick, the secret would seem to be not more turbo pressure, but less. Because the engine is large, Mercedes can afford to blow only moderate amounts of boost through it, which means the engine can run a compression ratio of 10.0:1, a number you’d normally associate with a normally aspirated car. So there’s no off-boost lethargy at all, nor any sudden uncontrollable bang in the back when it kicks in. Any revs in any gear and the thing just flies.

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Much the same is true with the CL 65 AMG, its 6.0-litre V12 - again with biturbos - adding even more muscle to Mercedes-Benz’s biggest coupe. Its 543lb.ft of torque tests the traction control system if you choose to be brutal with the accelerator, the way the CL 65 AMG accelerates is quite breathtaking for such a weighty, comfortable car.

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