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2007 Mercedes CL550

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 In France, the term ‘haute couture’ is protected by law. The phrase is reserved for those fashion designers whose custom-made designs set trends around the world and grace runways from Paris to Milan. But who could resist applying that term to the trend-setting 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class? From the fashion and design house of Mercedes-Benz, this haute couture large luxury coupe arrives in three variants: the anything-but-base CL550, the V12-powered CL600 and the racy CL63 AMG. The Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has been fully redesigned this year and is based on a modified S-Class sedan platform. The CL’s exterior styling remains true to the coupe’s legendary predecessors by retaining important design cues such as the reverse-taper roof pillars that harken back to the 220 SE coupe of the 1950s. Immediately apparent on the new CL550 is its increased size: 3 inches longer, a half-inch wider and 3/4-inch taller. From the front, the CL exhibits a wider grille opening, three horizontal slats instead of the previous four and a long, taut hood surface with flush, clear-lens headlights. From the side, the CL’s shoulder line emerges from its muscular front fenders. As with the previous-generation car, the new CL panoramic side-window openings span the entire side of the car, giving the hardtop coupe an open-air look and feel. These expansive windows invite the eye inside, where the CL’s generous use of wood trim contrasts nicely with the metallicized switches and aluminum trim. The CL’s interior is one of the finest in the industry, with exceptional materials and the best fit and finish of its class. Overall, the new generation CL550, CL600 and CL63 AMG sets the international standard for large luxury coupes with its superb blend of opulence and technology. Although the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is once again too heavy to be much of an athlete, we expect that just about everyone who takes a test drive will be smitten by its quiet, luxurious confines. But on the odd chance that the CL isn’t for you, less expensive alternatives like the BMW 6 Series, Jaguar XK and Porsche 911 or (more expensive) exotics like the Aston Martin DB9, Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari 612 Scaglietti might be worth a look. Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options The four-passenger 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 large luxury coupe comes extremely well-equipped. Standard equipment includes the Mercedes-Benz COMAND interface, a hard-drive-based navigation system, a six-disc in-dash CD/DVD changer and standard Sirius Satellite Radio. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, 14-way power heated front seats and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system. Option packages on the CL550 include the appearance-altering AMG Sport Package and the Premium I and II packages. The Premium I Package includes the convenient Keyless Go system, and heated and ventilated front seats to keep backsides warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In addition to everything on the Premium I Package, the Premium II Package features a nighttime vision assist system and upgraded multicontour front seats. Finally, Distronic Plus, a radar-based adaptive cruise control system, automatically accelerates and brakes (up to 40 percent of the CL550’s braking capacity) based on vehicle traffic, making routine driving much more relaxing and stop-and-go commuting less stressful. To offset its big price tag, the V12-powered CL600 includes all the aforementioned options as standard equipment. The CL63 AMG is equipped more like the CL550 but focuses on performance with unique exterior enhancements, a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance brakes and AMG multicontour leather sport seats finished in special cross piping. Powertrains and Performance The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 delivering 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. It drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The CL600 comes with a surprisingly quiet twin-turbo V12 engine that generates 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. The V12 engine provides effortless thrust with turbine-like smoothness, developing peak torque at just 1,800 rpm. Mated to a fi