The new 2012 Mercedes CLS550 is a beautiful car that combines the swooping curves and radically sloped roofline of a two-door coupe with the convenience of a four-door sedan.

The new 2012 Mercedes CLS550 is a beautiful car that combines the swooping curves and radically sloped roofline of a two-door coupe with the convenience of a four-door sedan.

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

Gorgeous, Powerful, Pricey
Gorgeous, Powerful, Pricey

The new 2012 Mercedes CLS550 is a beautiful car that combines the swooping curves and radically sloped roofline of a two-door coupe with the convenience of a four-door sedan.

Overview
Overview

The Mercedes CLS was a pioneering design when it was introduced in the 2006 model year—a gorgeous "four-door coupe" that combined the curvy lines and sloped roofline of a coupe with the practicality of a sedan. The new 2012 CLS550 maintains that tradition while also being bigger, faster, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient than the model it's replacing. In the early going, the CLS looks like a big hit, with sales up 811 percent in August, after rising more than 600 percent in June and July. However, the CLS faces stiff competition, from the boxier but much cheaper Mercedes E550, which shares the same V8 engine as the CLS550; Audi's new A7, which is equally gorgeous, almost as quick, and far cheaper; and BMW's 550i GT.

Interior
Interior

The cabin is less cluttered than before. The only shift lever is a small wand on the steering wheel; manual shifting is done via unobtrusive steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Front and rear headspace remains tight. Fold-down rear seats cost $440 extra.

Engine/Transmission
Engine/Transmission

Under the hood of the CLS550 is a marvelous 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V8 that delivers 402 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is a seven-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddles for those who wish to do the shifting manually.

Performance
Performance

The CLS550 is rated to jump from zero to 60 in 5.1 seconds, compared with 5.0 seconds for the Mercedes E550, 4.9 seconds for the BMW 650i, and 4.3 seconds for the Mercedes CLS63 AMG equipped with a performance package. Top speed is limited to 130 mph.

Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy

The CLS550 is rated to get 17 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway, dropping to 17/25 with all-wheel drive and 16/25 for the CLS63 AMG. The all-wheel-drive-only Audi A7, which is rated at 18/28, is nearly as quick and more fuel-efficient.

Safety
Safety

Standard safety gear includes stability and traction control, active head restraints, nine air bags, and the PreSafe crash avoidance system. Options include rear side bags ($420), night vision assist ($1,780), and a blind-spot/lane-departure warning system ($850).

Price
Price

The 2012 CLS550 starts at $72,175, rising to $74,675 with all-wheel drive and $95,775 for the CLS63 AMG. The 2012 Audi A7 and Mercedes E550 4Matic sedan both start at just over $60,000. The 2011 BMW 550i GT starts at $65,275.