CL-Class continues tradition of beauty, performance

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Here we go again -- another impossibly beautiful automobile from Mercedes-Benz.

This time it's the new CL-Class hardtop, which is just arriving in dealers' showrooms as you're reading this.

You have to see it to believe it. Shamelessly sleek, with flowing, voluptuous lines and huge wheel arches dominating some of the most beautiful alloy wheels you'll ever see, this car is nothing short of a work of art. It comes in two versions -- the CL 550 powered by a 382 horsepower V-8 and the outrageously fast 510 horsepower CL600 with 612 pounds feet of tree stump-pulling torque. Either one will take your breath away -- trust me.

Take a look at the new navigation system, too. It has a 20 gigabyte hard drive, can provide detailed driving directions , has voice prompts and lots of other cool features, too. The stereo system has 600 watts and 11 speakers, and hands-free communication with either an accessory phone cradle or Bluetooth adapte are included in the long list of equipment.

The 2007 Mercedes CL.
Click photo for larger image.

Other standard equipment includes ambient lighting in the interior, Sirius Satellite radio, an electronic trunk closer, active body control, the Pro-Safe accident avoidance system, night view assist, and Perform-Safe technology , which includes a brake assist that automatically boosts braking power when quickly applying the brakes, an electronic stability program, and other features.

Prices start at about $100,000 for the CL550 and about $130,000 for the CL600. Gas mileage figures are not yet available.

Elsewhere in the lineup, the E-Class, the popular lineup that represents Mercedes' bread and butter, has been substantially changed .

Yet, despite all the modifications, the E-Class is still the same car it has always been -- warm, driver-friendly and full of important safety technology. In fact, at first glance, it looks exactly the same.

Only on closer inspection do the new taillights, dressy chrome bar across the rear of the car and a new gearshift lever and steering wheel tell you it's a 2007 model.

But where you really will be able to tell the difference is when you get behind that new steering wheel. What greets you is a much more responsive car with tighter handling. After driving one for a day, I was surprised just how much difference all those modifications meant to the motoring experience.

That's especially true if you choose the E550, which is powered by an all-new 5.5 liter V-8 that delivers 382 horsepower. That's a whopping 80 horsepower more than was available in 2006. And Mercedes engineers made sure that whether you were going 20 or 100 miles per hour, you would still feel the power .

The E Class packs a lot of value, too, because with a starting price of $50,550, there are a lot of important new things that area standard equipment for the price. That includes a sunroof, premium sound system, CD changer and an all-new pre-safe program that prepares the car in the event of a crash by closing sunroofs and windows and repositioning the seat, among other things.

You'll also get your choice of either Sport or Luxury packages, both at no extra cost . They have different grilles, different trim, and in the sport model's case, a lowered sport suspension, cross-drilled front disc brakes and dual exhaust. See your dealer for details of other differences. The E350 4Matic wagon costs $55,700, the diesel- powered E320 costs $51,550 and the E550 costs $59,000 .



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