In autumn 2002, Mercedes‑Benz unveiled a face-lifted version of the Series C 215 CL-Class featuring revised body styling, an upgraded interior and the latest state-of-the-art technology. Especially striking was the vehicle's restyled twin-headlamp face with a state-of-the-art clear-glass look as well as the revised front bumper, which yet further emphasised the forceful appearance of the coupé. The outside mirror housings were modified and additionally fitted with ambient illumination. This came on automatically whenever a door was opened or whenever the central locking was operated by remote control, thus illuminating the area near the vehicle. This feature enhanced the safety and comfort of passengers when entering and leaving the vehicle. At the rear of the CL-Class, the tail lamps with their shinier look and designed lenses reinforced the elegant character of the coupé.
While the engine in the CL 500 was unchanged, the CL 600 was given a newly developed 12-cylinder bi-turbo powerplant. This 368 kW (500 hp) engine brought the CL-Class into the performance class of the super sports car. The V12 powerplant delivered a peak torque of 800 Newton-metres at 1 bar boost pressure from an engine speed of 1800 rpm. The state-of-the-art 5.5-litre engine was thus superior to the previous 12-cylinder unit by around 36 per cent on power and by even 51 per cent on torque. The CL 600 accelerated from rest to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds (predecessor: 6.1 seconds). The top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h.
The special technical features of the new V12 engine included bi-turbocharging, a special low-temperature circuit with two water charge air coolers, three-valve technology and AC dual ignition with continuous ionic current diagnosis for optimal ignition. Thanks to state-of-the-art engine technology and effective exhaust-gas treatment with two firewall catalytic converters, the 12-cylinder engine already complied with the stringent EU 4 emission regulations that came into effect in 2005. The fuel consumption of the CL 600 was 14.7 litres of premium petrol per 100 kilometres (NEDC combined consumption).
From autumn 2002, the high-performance CL 55 AMG coupé was powered by a supercharged 5.5-litre 368 kW (500 hp) V8 engine developed by Mercedes-AMG. With a torque of 700 Newton-metres (from 2,750 rpm), this powerplant accelerated the two-door vehicle from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. A five-speed automatic transmission with racing- car-style shift paddles on the steering wheel rounded off the sporty driving experience offered by the new CL 55 AMG.
The facelift also included an enhanced Active Body Control (ABC), which came as standard on all CL-Class models: developed by Mercedes-Benz, the unique system adjusted the springing and damping at lightning speed to suit the current driving situation, thereby minimising the movement of the body when starting off, cornering and braking. For the new CL coupé generation from the 2003 model year onwards, the engineers had additionally developed a technology that continuously measured the current gross weight of the vehicle and included this value when computing the active suspension control. The result was even better dynamic handling largely independent of the vehicle load.
With its two-stage front-passenger airbag, window bags and sidebags, high-performance emergency tensioning retractors, belt force limiters and automatic child seat recognition, the CL coupé had boasted an exemplary standard of occupant safety in this vehicle class already since the start of production of the Series 215 in autumn 1999. In the face-lifted CL-Class, Mercedes‑Benz augmented this passive safety equipment with up-front sensors in the front end of the body. In the event of a collision, the sensors detected the impact severity at an early stage to allow the deployment of the front passenger airbag to be controlled in two stages depending on the situation. Moreover, thanks to the up-front sensors, the emergency tensioning retractors could be activated even sooner for optimal protection of the occupants upon impact. Another innovation was automatic weight classification of the front passenger by means of a special film in the seat bolster. Thus, the right-side airbag was activated not only according to impact severity, but also in two stages according to the weight of the front passenger.
In autumn 2002, the Mercedes-Benz designers additionally upgraded the exclusive interior ambiance of the CL-Class with a meticulous facelift. For example, the centre console was made even more attractive with new, elegantly styled switches and the standard-fitted COMAND unit with integral car radio, CD player and colour display (format 16:9) enlarged to 6.5 inches.
Launched in autumn 2003, the CL 65 AMG was one of the two hitherto most powerful cars in AMG's 37-year history - alongside the simultaneously unveiled S 65 AMG. The exclusive coupé came with a new six‑litre V12 engine, which, with its bi-turbocharging, offered a new dimension in power in this displacement class: the 12-cylinder engine delivered 450 kW (612 hp) and a maximum torque of 1000 Newton-metres, which was available between 2000 and 4000 rpm. The CL 65 AMG accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, its top speed being electronically limited to 250 km/h.
The impressive power output was mainly due to the totally redesigned bi-turbo system with large turbochargers and redesigned, more efficient charge air cooling, an increase in displacement to 5,980 cubic centimetres as well as numerous other in-engine measures. Power transfer was by means of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT five-speed automatic transmission with gearshift on the steering wheel. The high peak torque of 1,200 Newton-metres required limitation to 1000 Newton-metres and strengthening of various transmission components, such as newly developed clutch plates with high-quality metal coating and a modified shift & torque converter lock-up logic. Modified drive shafts and larger wheel carriers also accommodated the high power and torque.
The CL 65 AMG came as standard with ABC with AMG-specific suspension struts and stiffer shock absorbers. Further measures to improve the performance of the suspension included totally new vehicle dynamics control systems such as ABS, BAS, acceleration skid control (ASR) and the ESP® Electronic Stability Program. In line with the high power on offer from the bi-turbo engine, the front axle was provided with a new, large-sized eight-piston composite braking system with cast iron discs and aluminium pot of size 390 x 36 millimetres. Contact with the road was ensured by 19-inch AMG double-spoke wheels with 245/40 ZR 19 (front) and 275/35 ZR 19 (rear) tyres.
The attention to detail, too, was exclusive: the chrome-plated "V12 Biturbo" lettering on the front wings indicated exceptional dynamics, while the two oval, chrome-plated twin tailpipes on the AMG sport exhaust system lent a sporty look to the rear end. Inside, the rich fine-wood trim and three-tone "Exclusive Nappa" leather upholstery conveyed a special flair. Electrically adjustable AMG sport seats with AMG-specific seat graphics and perforations, optimal lateral support, multi-contour function, memory and heated seats made twisty sections of road as pleasurable as long motorway cruises in the CL 65 AMG. The exquisite style was rounded off by the AMG instrument cluster with a 360 km/h scale, AMG ergonomic sport steering wheel with shift paddles and chrome-plated stainless-steel door sills with AMG logo.
In autumn 2006, Mercedes‑Benz unveiled the new Series 216 CL-Class, based on the Series 221 S-Class, which had been launched around one year earlier. The all-new C 216 coupé superseded the C 215 model series. By February 2006, a total of 47,984 units of the exclusive two-door car had left the assembly line in Sindelfingen. The most successful variant was the CL 500, of which 32,224 units were built - accounting for over two-thirds of total production.