Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the 2005 CLS 55 AMG, the company's latest
hot rod and the flagship of its new CLS-Class sedan line. The CLS 55
will go on sale in January along with the rest of the CLS-Class cars.
While Mercedes officials said in an interview that they do not have an
estimated price for the CLS 55, they did say the CLS-Class' pricing
will fall between that of its top-tier sedans, the E-Class, which will
start at $49,220 for 2005, and the S-Class, whose 2004 model starts at
$74,970. Hot rod AMG variants typically cost about 15 to 20% more than
the mainstream models on which they are based.
Mercedes, which is owned by DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people
), had already said that it wants the CLS-Class to be a sportier sedan
line than the E- and S-Classes, and that the company expects the CLS
will attract more customers who are new to the brand than its other
high-end sedans do. Despite this information--and the benefits of
making the CLS a slightly more aggressive-looking car, with such
styling elements as a belt line that rises as it heads toward the back
of the vehicle--we still don't have a satisfactory answer as to why
Mercedes thinks it needs to add another sedan line (it has three
already) to a cluttered market. Mercedes has too many models that
feature the 5.0-liter V-8 engine which will power the base model, the
CLS 500. That V-8 is getting old and, relative to other luxury brands'
engines, doesn't produce a great deal of horsepower (302) given how
big it is.
We are still excited to drive the CLS 55 AMG, if only because it is
more powerful than the red-hot, 469 hp E55 AMG sedan. Using the
supercharged, 5.5-liter V-8 engine that appears in other Mercedes AMG
cars, the CLS 55 will make 476 hp--more than the E55, less than the
S55. Its 516 pounds-feet of torque matches the figures from the E55
The results of this engine tuning are impressive: Mercedes said in a
statement that the CLS 55 will be able to accelerate from 0-62 mph in
4.7 seconds, and that it will have an electronically limited maximum
speed of 155 mph. In addition to the souped-up engine, it will feature
a sports suspension and a high-performance braking system.
In the CLS 55, as with other AMG cars, the engine's power is
transferred to the wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission.
The driver can choose between automatic or manual gear changes, the
latter of which are controlled either through a selector lever or
gearshift buttons on the steering wheel (BMW's hot rod M cars have the
Like other AMG and M cars, the CLS 55 AMG will feature subtle styling
differences from its parent model. It has 18-inch light-alloy wheels
with wide tires, large air inlets near round fog lamps and two
chromed, oval exhaust pipes. AMG fans will recognize the badge on the
car that says "V8 Kompressor"--"supercharged V-8" in English. The
interior will feature perforated sports seats and Nappa leather in a
choice of three colors.
Mercedes previewed the CLS line at last September's International
Motor Show in Frankfurt with the Vision CLS prototype. The company
unveiled the new, ready-for-production CLS 500 at April's New York
International Auto Show.