Mercedes CL 600

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Year Represented: 2000
Host: GT4 

Class: Grand Tourer / Luxury Car
Type: 2-door coupe
Country: Germany

Price: $177,850

Length: 196.6" // Width: 73.1" // Height: 55.0"
Wheelbase: 113.6"
Overhang: 6 feet 11 inches
Track: 62.1" front & rear
Ground Clearance: 5.5"
Weight: 4,308 pounds
Steering: variable-assist rack & pinion
Turns Lock 2 Lock: 2.800
Turn Circle: 37 feet 9 inches
Layout: front engine/rear drive
Tires: 225/55R-17
Suspension: multilink
Brakes: vented discs with ABS & EBD

Engine: 5.8 liter SOHC V12
Aspiration: natural
Fuel System: fuel-injection
Valves / Cyl: 3
Bore x Stroke: 3.31 x 3.43"
Compression: 10.0:1

Tested BHP: 362 @ 5,500 rpm
Tstd Torque: 391 @ 4,100 rpm
Credits per HP: $491.30
Pounds per HP: 11.90
HP per Liter: ```62.6

Idle Speed: 750 // Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000

Transmission: 5-speed automatic w/clutchless manual

0-60 mph: 6.200 seconds
0-100 mph: 13.866 seconds
0-150 mph: @ 34 seconds
400 M:   14.461 @ 102 mph
1 Kilom: 25.629 (mph n/a)
Test Track Lap: no test

100-zero mph: 3.81 seconds
Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: no test

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 48 mph
2nd: 81 mph
3rd: 128 mph
4th: 173.96 mph @ 6,250 rpm
5th: nil  

-----------EXTERIOR / HISTORY-----------

I don't what it's like in the rest of the world, but in America there is a certain way kids get picked to be on a team in gym class. Let's say you're good at baseball, and two teams are forming to play a game. Since you're good, you'll get picked by one of the teams earlier than someone who is not so good. This review shall discuss how money spent doesn't always guarantee success. Sometimes, even the rich kid gets picked last.

The Mercedes Benz CL class was started in 1998 as yet another way for wealthy people to flaunt their wealth, and generally let the rest of the world know just how special and important they are. CL stands for "Comfort Leicht" in German, or "Comfort Light" in English. A bit of a contradiction, of course. At 4,308 pounds, this car is anything but light. The CL 600 in our game is from the 2nd generation of CLs, and represents the first wave of newer, sleeker Benzes that appeared to sweep in the new millenium.

As with other Benzes (and AMGs) in our game, the CL 600 comes standard with a long list of goodies...goodies like ABC, or Active Body Control. It also features a COMAND (COckpit Management Navigation Device) DVD system which includes  speech-activated sensor(s) that possibly control the CD player, DVD player, phone, satellite radio, etc. "Et cetera". What a good word to describe this car. Et cetera. Because there's really just too many features to discuss, and I'm gonna be lazy and not discuss them like I did during that other AMG/Benz review. I don't need the jealousy anyways! 
Long story short...there's a lot of weight being slung around by this Grand Tourer. Does the CL class effectively slay as many races despite this weight as the C43 I reviewed awhile back?



--------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------

So check this out! Here we have one of the very few V12 engines in GT4 to fool around with! Stomping on this motor is like having a three-stage rocket under the hood, assuming you're driving this car with its traction controls ON, or if you're driving with them OFF but seriously keeping the throttle tamed.

Stage one is nothing but smoothness. There is a short bit of lag as the engine seems to wake from a near-slumber. During stage two, torque starts to kick in, strong but smooth. This can morph into lots of wheelspin if you're not careful (or not using TCS). During actual racing, this mighty torque can also be used to your advantage to "kick" the car's rear around with small movements of oversteer.

Stage three is the best of all, and shows up just before 5,000 rpms. Suddenly, there's a swell of speed. It doesn't last long, but like an illicit drug rush, it's often completely satisfying and it leaves you craving for more. Real-life car reviews of the CL 600 also describe this rush of horses, so it's commendable for PD to have captured this behavior. Also described by these reviews is how quiet the V12 happens to be. Strong, yet quiet. And silky smooth. It seems this engine might have had a great life in a limousine somewhere; certainly its mannerisms (while stock) feel very limousine-ish.

All of this eventually changes with upgrades. There are three natural-aspiration kits (no turbos, unfortunately), and max power rates at a very accepatable 655 horsepower with 658 foot-pounds. Anywhere above 500 horsepower, the CL 600 starts to get confused. The car (it seems) is still trying to keep its dignified pose, yet can't quite do it anymore. This shall be discussed further in the next section, actually.

Most of the time, drivers can use either the stock or the close gearbox, but both have serious limits. The stock 5-speed tranny is a bit tall, yet the V12's massive torque makes sure this is not a problem. Still, it's a bit sad that most of the time (even with full power) 5th gear doesn't see action. There is a close-ratio unit, too, but it's also a 5-speed; and is too short for some tracks.

So strong, yet so gentle this car is...

-------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------

Everything unfortunately falls apart here.

Many everyday civilian automobiles do a pretty good job at playing "race car"; even some luxury status-symbol types (Audi S4 & RS series, BMW's M & 3-series, Infiniti's G35, etc.) can rise to the occasion. The CL 600 is not one of them.

Other Mercedes Benzes I've driven and/or reviewed so far (the AMG C43, AMG E55, SLK 230 Kompressor, and 190E Evolution II) never failed to impress on many levels so far as driveability is concerned, which makes the CL 600 somewhat disappointing. The CL 600 also appears in GT3. I never drove it in this game, but I imagine the understeer and lack of manueverability can't be half as bad as in GT4.

Weight is mostly to blame, of course; but even after it's removed, this car still understeers to no end. The CL's long 113.6 inch wheelbase, matched with large front & rear overhangs, doesn't help either. This car is especially prone to entry-corner understeer (the worst type), but also hoards of mid-corner understeer that won't go away no matter what. Underwhat? Understeer! Understeer, understeer, understeer. It gets annoying. It gets to be maddening. Once this car is pushing, its understeer feels so final, so complete. It ruins the Mercedes-Benz racing experience, which otherwise feels somewhat polished.

The CL would be somewhat tossable in corners if it weren't for that plowing front-end! Real-life car testers of the CL-series have made a note that these cars do, in fact, understeer at the limit, but otherwise don't criticize the CL much. Guess it helps that those guys and gals don't often need to push real-life CL 600s to Gran Turismo speeds! To be fair, there are other behaviors exhibited. Brake massively before corners, and the front-end occasionally (begrudgingly) complies without understeer. The car also throttle-steers out of turns reliably if you can manage to get it balanced mid-corner, but this is sometimes not enough to help.

The rear-end feels planted most of the time while the car is near-stock. With power additions, the rear starts to lose more and more of its composure, till you wind up with muscle car-like behavior if you're not careful. The real-life CL 600 (like most Benzes) boasts a long list of electronic controls and gadgets to control body sway, rolling, pitching, and squatting; and it's notable that the game-car does drive with a lack of excessive body movement. ABC (Active Body Control) and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) are both used, which starts with a sophisticated system of monitors and computers to make sure real-life CLs do what they're supposed to.

At each corner of the suspension sits a modified MacPherson strut with a small electro-hydraulic pump. There are 13 sensors conected to a computer and these pumps. When the car is driven hard thru a corner and starts to lean or pitch or dive, these sensors pick up the anomoly, and command the pumps to juice up, so that much errant behavior is reduced. This is very important. We can't have that bottle of expensive Chablis rolling out of its cupholder, after all. The ESP system enables braking input to keep the car from a spin, long before the driver even knows one is imminent. It can be assumed to some degree that if you're driving a CL 600 with ASM & TCS all on "1", this is exactly what we've got to replicate the real-life car. But this is not enough. 

But at the moment of truth, rarely will any Gran Turismo driver be impressed with any of this. This car's awesome composure, status, dilletante behavior, and courtly grace help us not at all as we're about to tackle any number of race courses.
Reserve this one for your next power-lunch or blind date if you want to make a good impression. Just keep it as far away from any race track as you can!


1). The class. The opulence. The prestige a Benz owner gets to feel.

2). That powerfully smooth V12 powerplant.

3). Acceptable acceleration & speed from a 4,300 pound car.

4). Lots of colors to choose from Mercedes, as always.

5). A handsome (if somewhat commonplace) design.


1). Embarassing understeer of all kinds.

2). What a tall gearbox. 5th is rendered almost useless for most racing situations.

3). Oy, the weight!   

4). Besides understeer, there's just a general lack of cornering capability in this car, as though it's not interested in rushing at all  (despite the powerful engine). Not what I expected from Benz.

5). Braking ability is okay, but your braking skill will still be heavily tested to avoid as much entry-understeer as you can.

6). V12 engine might please a CEO type, yet is too quiet for the average racefan. Yet another reason to long for those snarly Ferrari V12s.

7). Did I mention the price? He hee.

8). Not much of a tuner's delight. You can tune and tune this car; it'll still feel like a big, expensive doofus. I've gotten a Fiat Panda handling more to my liking.

9). Not much of a drifter's delight, either.

10). Gobbles fuel like it's "Tanksgiving"...ha ha. Get it? Tanksgiv...never mind...:facepalm:

Published: April 12, 2009