February 13, 2014
As far as I know, M. Weissgerber has never met me. We’ve never spoken on the phone, nor have we ever corresponded via email. And yet all the way across the Atlantic in Affalterbach, Germany, Herr Weissgerber handcrafted a magnificent concoction of materials into an engine that suits me perfectly.
Displacing five-and-one-half litres and wearing a pair of turbochargers whistling away with up to 14.5 psi of boost, Weissgerber’s V8 masterpiece dispenses almost 600 lb-ft of torque at only 1,750 rpm. As such, it’s a darn good thing Mercedes-Benz sees fit to equip all (North American) CLS 63s (and E 63 AMGs) with its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system this year, for without the distribution of force to four rubber patches, drivers would find either vaporized rear tires or an overworked traction control system. Exercising personal restraint could be another option, but it seems unlikely.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG-S 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge
Since the order form for my test car included the “S” option over what must be the woefully inadequate and underpowered 550-hp non-“S” CLS 63 AMG, the horsepower figure of this test car rings in at 577. Even with 1,870 kg (more than 4,100 lb) to propel, Car and Driver magazine managed to get their “S” model to reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds – a figure the finely calibrated seat of my pants does not dispute.
If you are among those who foolishly speculate that AMG’s move from a larger displacement, normally aspirated V8 to this more modern twin-turbo affair has softened the hammer’s blow, you are incredibly wrong. When compared to the high performance V8s offered by Audi, BMW and Porsche, the Benz wins the arms race for power on paper and it feels it on the road. It also sounds like the biggest dog, with the most ferocious bark, too. The other engines have a higher pitch – more wail than bellow – whereas the Mercedes sings a deep baritone song sure to be loved by anyone who appreciates the music of off-shore racing boats or the best American muscle cars.
If you have an ounce of motoring enthusiasm in you, this engine will enthrall you.
Inside every other contemporary Mercedes-Benz that I can think of, gears are selected via a chintzy, plastic column shifter. In the CLS 63 (and indeed all AMG models), a unique aluminum squared-loop protrudes from the console to select gears. It’s a small detail, but interesting enough both visually and to the touch to warrant mention.
The transmission below that squared-loop is an AMG-tuned Speedshift MCT seven-speed automatic. Should you be displeased that Mercedes has not fitted a dual-clutch transmission a la Porsche’s Panamera or Audi’s RS7, might I remind you of that quickest-in-class acceleration time? The CLS’s seven-speed shifts with speed and authority, and possesses a robust feeling that’s comforting when one recalls the 590 lb-ft of torque passing through the system.