Although the CLS-Class was a brand-new model in 2006, Mercedes-Benz updates it in 2007 with two new engines and corresponding new names. The CLS500 goes from a 5.0-litre V8 to a 5.5-litre and becomes the CLS550, while the CLS55 AMG goes from a supercharged 5.0-litre to a naturally-aspirated 6.3-litre V8, and is renamed the CLS63 AMG.

Other changes include a seven-speed automatic on both models (the CLS63 version includes AMG Speedshift programming), standard Pre-Safe proactive safety features, and new S-Class-style chrome-design SmartKey. The rain-sensing wipers now have a two-stage sensitivity setting, and Adaptive Brake replaces Sensotronic Brake Control

Features on the CLS550 include 18-inch five-spoke wheels, ten-way heated power seats, navigation system, crash-responsive head restraints, side and curtain airbags, full-length centre console with storage, Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound system, garage door opener, power tilt and telescopic wheel, automatic climate control, tire pressure loss warning system, active bi-Xenon headlamps with washers and cornering lights, Airmatic suspension, adaptive braking system with hill start assist, rearview and driver’s side auto-dimming mirrors, power sunroof and rain-sensing wipers with heated washers.

Available options include an AMG Sport Package with Speedshift transmission, or a $4,000 Premium Package of Parktronic parking assist, Keyless Go, electronic trunk closure, trunk pass-through with ski sack, rear window sunshade, and heated rear seats.

The CLS63 AMG adds eight airbags, 19-inch wheels, four-zone automatic climate control, AMG seats and gauges, studded stainless steel pedals, AMG aprons and dual exhaust, blue tinted glass, and silver grille with three chrome ribs. An optional $3,800 Premium Package adds Parktronic parking assist, Keyless Go, electronic trunk closure, rear window sunshade and heated rear seats.

The CLS is based on the E-Class sedan’s architecture. Mercedes calls it a “four-door coupe”; you can decide if such a thing exists, but there’s no denying the beauty of this vehicle’s styling. The new 5.5-litre is smooth and powerful, but the AMG goes from zero to 100 km/h in only 4.5 seconds, slightly faster than the 4.7 seconds managed by the 2006 version. Both models are equipped with Airmatic suspension, which uses a microprocessor to control the air volume, making rapid adjustments to stiffen the suspension during cornering or demanding conditions, or soften it for more comfort during normal driving.

A centre console runs the length of the seats, making this a four-passenger vehicle. The car’s low-swept roofline limits rear headspace, and tall passengers will have to bend to gain access through the sloping rear doors, but it’s easy to make concessions when something looks as good as this.

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