I think it’s time that I, a responsible automotive journalist with roughly 90 days of experience, devote a column to a segment that my colleagues simply do not spend enough time covering. And that segment is: expensive cars that nobody buys.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: He’s going to write a column about Acura? But that isn’t the case. Actually, you already know that isn’t the case because you’ve read the title, and you’ve seen the picture, and you’ve come here to get answers to all your burning CL-Class-related questions, such as: Does Mercedes still make that thing?
So I’ll address that question before going any further. The answer is: yes, they still make it. Never mind the fact that it was outsold 3-to-1 last year by the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.
Of course, you may have different reasons for clicking this article. Maybe you’re a CL550 owner and you’re desperately wondering: Should I upgrade to a CL600? (Presumably, you’re simultaneously wondering: If I get this handbag, can my Shih Tzu still fit inside?)
Unfortunately for you potential CL600 owners out there (And by the way: how does Jalopnik show up on AOL?), I’m not going to provide a review of the car. Instead, I’m going to spend this column writing about something you already know very well: that the CL600, more than any other car on the road, is a rolling symbol of “f*** you.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Since Jalopnik is a family site in the sense that your 14-year-old son might stumble across it while searching for porn, I’m bleeping out “the F word.” When you read this column, you don’t actually have to say “F star star star” in your head. Instead, you can say the actual word, or possibly a wholesome substitute. May I suggest “darn”?
Anyway: on to the CL600. How can you say, you might be thinking, that the CL600 says f*** you more than any other car? Have you ever seen a G-Wagen? Or that Cadillac pickup truck that bad guys always drive in movies? And my response would be: you make a good point. But I think the CL600 has that stuff beat – and here’s why.
Let’s start with size. For those who don’t know, the CL600 is a full-size Mercedes luxury car based on the S-Class. But here’s the thing: unlike the S-Class, the CL-Class only has two doors. In other words: you paid S-Class money. You get S-Class size. But you went to the dealer and said something along the lines of: “Screw that. I don’t need four doors. I don’t even need the possibility of four doors. That’s what the chauffeur is for!”
Now, you might be wondering what makes this different from going to the dealer and buying, say, a 911. The answer is simple: with the 911, you trade practicality for driving enjoyment. With the CL600, you trade the S-Class’s practicality, but retain its driving dynamics. Imagine going to the BMW dealer and asking for an M3 that drives - and costs - like a 7-Series. (As an astute reader, you're probably thinking: So... a 6-Series?)
And speaking of cost, that’s another important part of the CL600’s “f*** you” status. The CL600 starts at $160,000 – and that’s before you add in options like 20-inch wheels and, of course, an interior crafted from the finest cows; cows that read better than your 4-year-old; cows that occasionally discuss their favorite concert pianists while passing chewed-up grass through their stomachs.
But a lot of cars cost $160,000. In fact, there’s an even more expensive CL-Class, the CL65 AMG, that starts at $212,000. So why am I singling out the CL600? Simple: it isn’t the price tag that’s obscene. It’s the fact that one hundred and sixty thousand dollars doesn’t buy you anything.
Here’s what I mean: if you skip the CL600, and instead choose the basic CL550, you get a 429-horsepower V8 with a 7-speed automatic. Upgrade to the CL600, and you get a 510-horse V12 with a 5-speed. The result: the CL550 does 0-to-60 in 5.4 seconds, while the CL600 does it in 5.2. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except here’s the kicker: the CL600 costs $44,000 more. That’s right: you’ve spent forty-four thousand dollars for two-tenths of a second.
Now, I’m aware there are a few other differences. The CL600 has more standard equipment, for example. But you can add any CL600 equipment to the the CL550 and still come out tens of thousands of dollars ahead. And when you’re driving around town, you’d never know you didn’t have a V12 under the hood. In other words: you’ve spent $44,000 extra… because you could.
So here’s a little summary for those of you who got lost back when I mentioned cows and pianists. If you buy a CL600, you’re paying more money – and you’re not getting more practicality, more speed, more stuff, or even more looks from appreciative passersby. You’re doing it just to do it. Basically, you’re saying “F*** you” to every single established rule about exchanging money for goods – all so you could have a little “V12” badge behind your front wheel. And you probably know that, when it comes time to trade in, your CL600 will have the same value as four hours of GoGo In-Flight Internet: absolutely none.
So how is the CL600 a bigger f*** you than a G-Wagen, or the Escalade EXT? Simple: those cars are trying to say f*** you – sometimes so loud that you can hear the chrome accessories clear their throats. The CL600 says it just as loudly without ever opening its mouth. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a true f*** you.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He operates PlaysWithCars.com. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.