In June 2006, Mercedes‑Benz unveiled the Series C 216 CL-Class. In the tradition of the large coupés from Stuttgart, the two-door vehicle boasted exquisite exclusivity and sophisticated styling in combination with cutting-edge technology unavailable from any other car-maker in the world. The technical highlights of the new CL-Class included the PRE-SAFE® brake, which took the coupé to a new level of automotive safety, the system automatically decelerating the vehicle in case of an impending head-to-tail collision. The standard equipment also included Mercedes‑Benz innovations such as ABC (Active Body Control) suspension, the Intelligent Light System with five lighting functions and preventive PRE-SAFE® occupant protection.
The Series 216 CL coupé was the formal exemplification of a new Mercedes‑Benz style, the hallmark of which was the interplay between distinctive, crisp lines and large, calm surfaces. This design idiom lent the coupé a particular expressiveness while underscoring the calm and power of its strong, confident character. Familiar Mercedes‑Benz features were embodied in a contemporary interpretation that brought tradition and modernity into harmony. Examples included the radiator grille typical of the brand with its broad chrome louvres and the design of the C-pillar. The unique, slightly downwards-tapering pillar configuration was a typical feature of large Mercedes‑Benz coupés.
Compared with the predecessor model, the new top-of-the-line coupé had grown in size. With a length of 5,065 millimetres, a width of 1,871 millimetres and a height of 1,418 millimetres, the body was 75 millimetres longer, 14 millimetres wider and 20 millimetres higher than its predecessor. This was to the benefit of the passengers, for the CL-Class offered greater spaciousness and comfort in all four seats. The boot capacity increased by 40 litres to 490 litres (according to VDA measuring method).
Initially, the two production models CL 500 and CL 600 with powerful V8 and V12 engines were available. Compared with the Series 215 predecessor models, they delivered significantly more power and torque, their exemplary refinement living up to Mercedes' claim to offer the utmost in driving culture. This was matched by the outstanding acoustic characteristics of the luxury coupé: thanks to elaborate development work, the Mercedes‑Benz engineers had made the CL-Class by far the quietest car in its class. As early as autumn 2006, a jury of 150 motoring journalists voted the new CL-Class the "Top Car of 2007" in the "Luxury" category, while readers of the German weekly newspaper "Bild am Sonntag" awarded the "Golden Steering Wheel" to the 216 model series.
The Series 216 AMG models were launched in autumn 2006. Already in July, Mercedes-AMG had unveiled AMG styling specially developed for the CL-Class with matching 19-inch light-alloy wheels. The AMG styling comprised front and rear aprons as well as side sill panels. Athleticism was conveyed by the newly designed bumper with enlarged air inlets and round, chrome-bordered front fog lamps. The AMG side sill panels carried the muscular lines seamlessly as far as the rear apron. The rear bumper featured a black insert as well as a chrome trim strip between the tailpipes. The optimal addition to the AMG styling for the CL-Class was the AMG 19-inch light-alloy wheels with five-spoke design and embossed AMG lettering. The rim flange and spokes were of high-sheen finish.
The most powerful Mercedes-Benz standard-production engines at the time of market launch enabled the luxury coupé to meet any challenge on the road. The eight-cylinder engine in the CL 500 delivered 285 kW (388 hp) from a displacement of 5,461 cubic centimetres. From 2,800 rpm, it developed a peak torque of 530 Newton-metres. The newly developed engine was thus superior to the previous V8 engine by 26 per cent on power and by 15 per cent on torque. Equipped with four-valve technology, variably adjustable shifting camshafts, two-stage intake module and tumble flaps in the intake ports, the new V8 was among the most advanced and powerful engines in its displacement class. The CL 500 accelerated from rest to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds.
The CL 600 was powered by a state-of-the-art bi-turbo 12-cylinder engine. The Mercedes‑Benz engineers had improved the engine in many details, increasing the power output compared with its predecessor by 12 kW to 380 kW (517 hp). The maximum torque rose by 30 to 830 Newton-metres, available from as low as 1900 rpm and remaining constant up to 3,500 rpm. The CL 600 accelerated from rest to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds. Mercedes‑Benz combined the standard-fitted automatic transmission with the new DIRECT SELECT gearshift: the driver could select transmission positions "P", "N", "R" and "D" by gently tapping a selector lever on the steering column, the commands being transferred all-electronically by cable.
The C 216 series came as standard with technical innovations offered by no other car in the world. PRE-SAFE® came as standard in the C 216 series. Mercedes-Benz added the newly developed PRE-SAFE® brake to the multiple award-winning preventive protection system in its new CL coupé. PRE-SAFE® brake operated together with Brake Assist PLUS (BAS PLUS), which visually and audibly warned the driver of an impending rear-end collision and automatically computed the necessary brake pressure to prevent a crash. Stepping on the brake pedal made this brake servo assistance immediately available. If, however, the driver did not react to the BAS PLUS warnings, in the event of acute danger PRE-SAFE® brake automatically initiated partial braking, decelerating the CL-Class with around 40 per cent of the maximum braking power. This autonomous partial braking gave the driver a further tangible indication that action was required. If the driver then operated the brakes immediately, the maximum braking force was available and the accident could be averted at the last moment, depending on the driving situation. If this was not possible, PRE-SAFE® brake reduced the impact severity and therefore the risk of injury to the occupants.
An even more efficient version of the Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system was used in the C 216 model series. This afforded the coupé a previously unattained optimum in terms of vehicle dynamics plus equally noticeable added comfort. The Intelligent Light System made driving in the dark still safer. Together with bi-xenon headlamps, it was part of the coupé's standard equipment, offering five different lighting functions depending on the driving and weather conditions.The new country light illuminated the left side of the road more brightly and broadly than the previous low beam. The motorway lights, automatically active from 90 km/h, created a uniform, far-ranging light cone illuminating the road across its entire breadth. At the centre of this light cone, the driver's vision was extended by approximately 50 metres. Another addition was the extended fog light function, with which Mercedes-Benz made it easier to navigate in fog. Active curve lights and corner-illuminating fog lamps also belonged to the standard Intelligent Light System in the CL-Class.
Newly developed Parking Guidance made its debut in the CL-Class. Its radar technology helped the driver to find a suitable parking space and to manoeuvre into it. While driving past up to a speed of about 40 km/h, radar sensors on the sides of the front and rear bumpers of the new luxury coupé detected whether the parking spaces on the driver and front passenger sides were sufficiently large. The system having found a suitable parking space on the front passenger side, a blue "P" appeared in the instrument cluster at a speed below 16 km/h. Parking spaces on the driver side were indicated if the left direction indicator was operated.
The driver having stopped the coupé at the position shown on the display and engaged reverse gear, the display on the instrument cluster presented a symbolic bird's eye view of the parking situation. Coloured lines informed the driver how best to park: a red track indicated the current steering angle, while a yellow track showed the recommended steering angle required for parking. The driver then turned the steering wheel until the two coloured tracks were in alignment, before slowly reversing into the parking space. Once the target and actual steering angles were in alignment, the guide lines in the display turned green. During reversing, an audible signal told the driver when to start steering in the opposite direction. During the parking procedure, Parking Guidance continuously monitored the steering angle and vehicle position. The radar-based Parking Guidance became optionally available for the CL-Class in late 2006. It operated together with Parking Assist, which was familiar from the S-Class.
The interior of the CL-Class was designed for comfort and relaxation. Automatic air conditioning, COMAND with car radio and CD/DVD player as well as a glass sliding roof were standard equipment, contributing to the unique driving experience and level of comfort. The CL 600 top-of-the-line model also came with a PASSION EXCLUSIVE leather interior, poplar wood trim and decoratively stitched Alcantara headliner. The standard specification also included dynamic multi-contour seats with massage function and seat ventilation, COMAND APS hard disc navigation system, "Logic7" surround sound system with DVD changer and the KEYLESS-GO access and drive authorisation system. A newly developed operating concept that had already proven its worth in the S-Class rounded off the interplay between driver and car. Its key advantage was the quick access it afforded to frequently used functions such as car radio, DVD player, car telephone and navigation system. The standard-fitted automatic air conditioning with four separately controllable temperature zones was also integrated into the new operating concept. The driver and front passenger could select the temperature, air distribution and other settings using either the COMAND controller and menu or a switch panel below the air vents.
The newly developed integral seats in the CL-Class offered a maximum in terms of personalised seating comfort. All belt system components were integrated directly into the seat, turning the seats into a key part of the occupant protection system. Especially personalised comfort was optionally available from actively ventilated comfort suspension seats (fitted as standard in the CL 600) as well as from further-improved multi-contour seats with new air cushions and dynamic multi-contour seats with massage function (standard in the CL 600).
At the 2006 Paris Auto Salon, Mercedes‑Benz unveiled the CL 63 AMG with a 6.3-litre V8 engine as the new top-of-the-line model of the C 216 series. One year later, at the 2007 New York International Auto Show, this was followed by the CL 65 AMG with a V12 engine.
The centrepiece of the CL 63 AMG was its 6.3-litre V8 engine, which was independently developed by AMG. From a displacement of 6,208 cubic centimetres, the high-speed naturally aspirated engine delivered 386 kW (525 hp) at 6,800 rpm and a maximum torque of 630 Newton-metres at 5,200 rpm. This made the AMG powerplant the world's most powerful standard-production naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine in terms of specific output and torque. The CLS 63 AMG accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, its top speed being electronically limited to 100 km/h.
Visually, the CL 63 AMG had the look of a high-performance sports car in a finely made-to-measure exterior. The equipment included muscular AMG bumpers with round, chrome-bordered front fog lamps, large cooling air inlets and side air outlets. While the coupé shared these details with the S 63 AMG saloon, the chrome borders around the cooling air inlets as well as the powerful-looking AMG radiator grille with two horizontal chrome louvres and numerous vertical black ribs were reserved exclusively for the CL 63 AMG.
Key features included the chrome-plated twin tailpipes of the AMG sport exhaust system. Another hallmark was the Ś.3 AMG" lettering on the front wings. The sporty-exclusive style continued in the interior. PASSION leather upholstery was part of the comprehensive standard equipment, as were the cross-piped AMG sport seats with their own seat upholstery layout as well as multi-contour and massage functions. The AMG instrument cluster provided a "RACETIMER" from the AMG main menu. A special eye-catcher in the interior was the exclusive analogue clock in the centre console, the design of which was based on the classic "IWC engineer" wristwatch. The picture was rounded off by AMG door sills of brushed stainless steel.
In 2007, the equally exclusive CL 65 AMG was added to the 216 series as the new top-of-the-line model. The performance coupé was powered by the AMG six-litre V12 bi-turbo engine. A maximum output 450 kW (612 hp) with a peak torque of 1000 Newton-metres made for outstanding performance, with the CLS 65 AMG accelerating from rest to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds and reaching 200 km/h after 13.3 seconds. The top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h.
The standard specification included AMG styling, AMG forged wheels (50.8 centimetres diameter) and the distinct AMG interior. Also included were high-tech systems such as AMG sports suspension based on Active Body Control (ABC) and the PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system. The AMG high-performance braking system with new double-frame floating brake callipers allowed maximum deceleration without loss of the braking efficiency.
A limited-edition "40th Anniversary" CL 65 AMG was unveiled to mark the 40th anniversary of Mercedes-AMG, the Mercedes Car Group's high-performance brand. Marketed worldwide in a limited edition of 40 vehicles, this exclusive model showed off its special status with its innovative paintwork, the AMG coupé being the first Mercedes‑Benz series-production vehicle to come in the colour of AMG alubeam. This unique paintwork had previously been confined to just a few Mercedes‑Benz show cars. AMG alubeam was applied in a new, globally unique process that made the paint shine like liquid metal. The colour spread like a metallic skin over the body, emphasising the lines of the large Mercedes‑Benz coupé more than any other paintwork and lending them even greater vibrancy with selective light reflections. This was made possible by 30- to 50-nanometre small pigments that were uniformly spread across the surface of the paint. This reflected the light with greater intensity, adding to the sheen. By comparison: the pigments of a conventional metallic finish were between 100 and 300 nanometres in size.
The exquisitely designed interior had a special flair: for example, the "40th Anniversary" CL 65 AMG sported a two-tone PASSION EXCLUSIVE full nappa leather interior in a new AMG V12 diamond design, colour-coordinated Alcantara inner headliner and V12 logos imprinted on the front head restraints.
From 2007, the CL-Class optionally came with the newly developed Blind Spot Assist to assist the driver when changing lane. The new assistance system from Mercedes-Benz employed six short-range radar sensors in the front and rear bumpers. These monitored the area to both sides and behind the vehicle, including the driver's blind spot, the area not covered by the outside mirrors. If the system detected another vehicle in the warning zone, a red warning symbol appeared in the glass of the outside mirror. This symbol told the driver that it might be dangerous to change lane. If, ignoring this information, the driver operated the direction indicator, the red symbol in the mirror glass began to flash, reinforced by an audible warning.
In summer 2008, Mercedes‑Benz additionally brought out an all-wheel-drive version of the CL-Class luxury coupé. In wet, snowy or icy conditions, this afforded the CL 500 4MATIC even greater traction and directional stability than its rear-wheel-drive counterpart. This vehicle's all-wheel drive was the same latest-generation system that had also stood the test in the S-Class. Continuously in operation, the 4MATIC required no response time to assist the driver in bad weather/road conditions. Critical situations could thus be addressed more effectively and with greater confidence. The centrepiece of the system was a transfer case with a central differential integrated into the seven-speed automatic transmission, from where the drive torque was distributed between the front and rear axles in a ratio of 45 to 55 per cent. An innovation was the double-disc clutch on the central differential, which provided a pre-lock torque of around 50 Newton-metres between the front and rear axles, allowing a variable torque shift between the axles, as the situation required.
The CL-Class 4MATIC boasted the same high-specification safety and comfort equipment as the luxury rear-wheel-drive coupé, while additionally coming with PASSION leather interior, ski bag, front multi-contour seats and nine-spoke light-alloy wheels (45.7 centimetres diameter). Also optionally available were Mercedes‑Benz innovations such as radar-based Brake Assist PLUS and Night View Assist.
In 2009, to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of its trademarks - the Mercedes star and the Benz badge - Mercedes-Benz brought out an especially exclusive edition of the CL coupé. The exquisite details included elaborately designed badges bearing the original trademarks embedded in the centre console. They were exact copies of the emblems that Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft und Benz & Cie had registered as trademarks a hundred years earlier and which were to give rise to the Mercedes star. The special "100 Years Trademark" model underscored the special status of the large Mercedes‑Benz coupé with its exclusive equipment.
Also in 2009, Mercedes‑Benz for the first time introduced an AMG sports package for the CL 500 and CL 500 4MATIC. This included a front skirt with large cooling air inlets, a rear apron with a distinctive black insert and permanently integrated rectangular exhaust tailpipe trims in polished stainless steel, AMG side sill panels and 19-inch AMG five-spoke light-alloy wheels. The interior sported wood trim and a wood/leather steering wheel in black ash, velour floor mats with AMG lettering as well as the sport pedal assembly of brushed stainless steel with rubber naps.
In July 2010, Mercedes-Benz launched a new generation of the C 216 model series.