If having four doors but noticing only two is a new visual standard, Mercedes-Benz is helping to set the pace. M-B bills its sleek new CLS500 as the “first four-door coupe.”
We really do know this toney luxury auto is a top-knotch, running machine sedan. But the side lines are so sleek and smooth, the vehicle in profile keeps that unencumbered, lunging forward look with only sculpted body lines and minimally visble door handles to dapple the surface. As eye candy alone this premiere aspirational auto could have qualified for its win as Luxury Car – Most Respected, But it won for so much more.
Under all that beauty inside and
out is the true heart of a Mercedes-Benz, the auto we have
grown to love for its balance of thrilling ride and handling
and technological superiority in addition to an appearance
just haughty enough to show off in front of the less luxuriously
endowed. Add a little naughty with that crouching-close-to-the-ground
look, and well you get the idea. Hit the accelerator and
watch it disappear. Here's a heart-thumping road machine
riding a 302-hp, 5.8-liter V-8. (While that's not quite
its CLS55 AMG sister's 469-hp powerhouse, it's close enough
to “screamer” to get a major thrill).And CL500's
high tech headrests jump the gun on new federal safety standards
not due for another two years. Headrests move forward and
up slightly during a collision to prevent a whiplash effect.
Like other advanced M-B technology, they are designed to
be reset so they can go back into action. Take the total
package and this winner's award is a natural.
You could say the "V" is short for "VROOOOM!"
Why not. Cadillac's
thunderbolt 4.4-liter, supercharged Northstar V-8
makes the STS-V stand out from the crowd. This newly-adapted
luxury sport sedan, on the STS luxury sedan of a year
ago for starters, is long on style, shorter on options.
A nimble drive from 440 hulking horses, hunky tires
and truly balanced handling make it ready to brawl
with those luxurious European, category-defining upstarts
(in a refined manner, of course).
Its tactile feel and tacit appeal at rest defy
what BMW 3 Series will be under power. Open the throttle
and respond to the surge, relax in less confined interior
space than past versions, luxuriate in high-tech comfort
as it cruises upward to the luxury spectrum in newer,
more modern attire (yet still dappled with leather
and wood). Trend-setting touch buttons tame starts;
nav screens and sound systems portray surroundings,
seen or heard. A treasure of features feed an overflowing
wish list of never-before options. We honor the variety
of its invention.