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Spyshot: Imposing luxury from Mercedes

Mercedes’ new coupé, the CL-class, is undergoing its final hot weather testing before launch mid-2006.

Most of the disguise has been stripped away, revealing the coupé’s imposing proportions and modern details. Several design cues are shared with the forthcoming S-class limousine, including the exaggerated wheelarches, pronounced shoulder line and geometric headlamps.

The resemblance goes more than skin deep – the CL continues to share a downsized version of the S-class’s high-tech chassis. That means rear-wheel drive, a body suspended by air springs and more gadgets than an Apple Store. There’s infra-red night vision, automatic brake activation if a radar detects an obstacle ahead, the CL can even drive itself during stop-start traffic.

The big coupé gets the pick of S-class engines, too, mated to a seven-speed auto ’box. The all-new 5.5-litre V8, which delivers 388bhp, will power the CL500. It should be good for 0-62mph in around 5.3sec. Even quicker is the CL600, which will run Mercedes’ twin turbocharged 5.5-litre V12, producing 517bhp.

Breath-taking of a different variety will be provided by the CL63 AMG. This runs AMG’s all-new, 6.3-litre V8, good for 510bhp in naturally aspirated form. Expect more than 600bhp when AMG attaches forced induction. This new V8 will ultimately replace the supercharged 5.5-litre eight and the twin-turbo V12, across Benz’s performance cars.

The CL is no less state-of-the-art inside. Rear access is made easier by front seats that glide out of the way, and the two rear armchairs can be arranged in a myriad of positions by electric controls. They can even massage backs or emit cold air if you tick the right options box.

Up front, functions are manipulated by a BMW iDrive-style controller, in conjunction with a screen set into the CL’s bespoke dashboard.

Chassis

New CL is based on a cut-down S-class chassis, which means air suspension, rear-wheel drive and gadgets galore.

Looks

Today’s CL is one of the classiest Mercs around; can this, with its edgy, modern details, follow suit?

Engines

388bhp V8 and 517bhp V12 petrols kick off the range; AMG version will run a 512bhp V8

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