Luxury Car of the Year - Mercedes-Benz
by Martha Hindes
Webster's calls it "...the use and enjoyment
of the best and most costly..." We call
it the benchmark that measures the worth
of the world's most accommodating autos.
Rich, gratifying, powerful and elegant,
they give us a sense of worth, a feeling
of achievement, an emotional delight.
When choosing the top luxury auto for
the 2008 ICOTY awards, judges culled
three from the crowd for consideration. However,
its 2008 ICOTY Most Respected Luxury
Car title could only go to the Mercedes-Benz
S63 AMG sedan.
The heart of the rear-drive based S63 AMG comes from Mercedes-AMG â€” creator of Mercedes-Benz's racing heritage â€” in form of a new 6.3-liter, naturally aspirated 518-horsepower V-8 engine. The performance powerplant, of a high strength, silicon-aluminum alloy, is derived from the exclusively hand-built AMG engine process where one specialist is responsible for the assembly from beginning to end.
It's the first time this AMG engine has been in any production car. Its scant zero-to-60 time is just a hint of its magnificent command of the road that electrified RTM testers. Monster front brakes with AMG embossed calipers help it stop after a run. Visually wide, low and sultry, the distinctive muscular contoured shape evolved specifically for the S63 AMG, touched with chrome and anchored with twin exhaust tips that emit a deliciously throaty growl. It's anchored by 19-inch or optional 20-inch wheels in "staggered width," wider in the rear.
The interior is elegant, comfortable and high tech with luxurious Alcantara leather throughout, plus COMAND communications and harman/kardon audio, and Parktronic Parking Distance Control. Well-bolstered seats and AMG steering wheel enhance its sporty nature.Aluminum shift paddles control the seven-speed automatic that switches between Sport-Comfort-Manual. It's doubtful mileage of 11 city/17 highway would impact the S63 AMG owner, who's already paid a gas guzzler penalty on top of base pricing at $127,8775 plus options. But the driving experience is priceless.
Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG
Call it a big car with a lot of nimble. This sexy coupe version of the S63 AMG is none other than the CL63 AMG on the same steroid-laden foundation. The CL63 AMG variation emcompases all the wonderful stuff of the sedan, but with a little more two-door pizzaz. Standard are those road controlling 20-inch wheels (also staggared width), luxurious interior including hand polished gloss burl walnut trim and the same penchant for churning up to 7200 rpm before any threat of burnout. All this exotic punch comes at a base price of $137,775 for the coupe. But whoever buys only a base? Premium fuel that ekes out 11 city/18 highway mpg is a given. Our assessment? If one Mercedes-Benz super car is good, shouldn't two be even better?
This revision of the CTS sedan evolved from an exciting earlier concept design called the Sixteen, which offered a tailored look and streamlined roofline for a coupe-like sleek appearance. An expansive "double" sunroof opens the interior to a wide view of the sky. Hand-cut and hand-sewn crafted interior surfaces with detailed French stitching are a counterpoint to the spacious, technology-laden interior.
Among sumptuous touches are heated and ventilated seating, heated washer fluid, adaptive headlamps that follow road curves, Bose audio and a retractable navigation screen. Under the hood there's the addition of a new 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine designed for more power with better mileage (17 city/26 highway) and lower emissions. Transmissions for both rear- or all-wheel-drive versions are six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with clutchless "driver control" manual mode. A wider stance anchors the CTS and enhances driving performance. Base price for this elegant, new Cadillac is $33,940.