The all-new CLS-Class is offered in two different models for 2012: a CLS550, with a 402-horsepower, 4.6L V8, and a higher-performance CLS63 AMG with a 518-hp, 5.5L V8. Both engines have a twin-turbo setup, along with direct injection, and come with a 7-speed automatic, but the CLS63 comes with a special AMG multi-clutch technology (MCT) transmission that uses a clutch instead of a torque converter for better responsiveness, quicker shifts and a more direct feel during high-performance driving.
The CLS-Class is referred to as a coupe by Mercedes-Benz, and when viewed from a front or rear angle, it's easy to see why. The arched roofline and heavily sculpted flanks--and especially the accented rear wheel arches--can make the CLS-Class look like a muscle coupe, while from the side or up close it becomes clear that this is a sedan with an actual trunk. Mercedes-Benz has expanded the interior space of the CLS-Class a bit, but it remains primarily stylish transport for two, with a smaller-than-usual backseat just large enough for two adults when needed. It's furnished with a truly high-end look and feel, including natural-grain leathers and real wood trim. Despite the CLS-Class' performance flavor, it includes a wide range of noise insulation and vibration damping. Nicely contoured front seats will provide great long-distance comfort, but the CLS63 upgrades to even more supportive sport seats plus more contoured rear seats. Active ventilated seats are available to keep occupants warm or cool, and a driver's multi-contour seat inflates to provide special support as well as help hold you in place in corners.
On the CLS63, many of the interior trims are upgraded. In addition to the sport seats, there are special AMG door sill panels and brushed stainless-steel pedals, along with expanded leather trim. There's also a special E-Select shift lever, as well as a 'Race' mode that can record lap times.
Bi-xenon headlamps are standard on the CLS-Class, and they come supplemented with what according to Mercedes-Benz are the world's first active LED headlamps. The setup includes active-curve lamps that help illuminate up to 15 degrees into an upcoming corner, as well as lower-speed cornering lamps. The tail lamps also use LED lamps, and the headlights have an Adaptive Highbeam Assist feature that can detect traffic coming from ahead or behind. City-dwellers might also find Parktronic useful; it uses sonar sensors to show nearby obstacles. Active Park Assist will actually steer the vehicle into a parking space at speeds below 7 mph.
All CLS-Class models include COMAND, Mercedes-Benz screen-based interface, navigated by a rotary controller, to access audio, climate, and navigation functions. Also of note is the available harman/kardon logic 7 surround-sound system, which has 14 speakers, a 610-watt amplifier and a subwoofer for a studio-quality experience.
Both of the CLS-Class models include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, a Distronic Plus cruise control system that lets you follow at a safe distance and a Pre-Safe emergency braking system that can spot slowdowns ahead and bring you to a full stop. Attention Assist studies movements of the steering wheel to spot times when you might be falling asleep, sounding a chime and displaying a coffee-cup symbol. Rain-sensing wipers even feature a heated washing system and headlight cleaners.