Fun Stuff

Depreciation Appreciation: 2011-2017 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG (W218)

Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used-car deal.

This month, we’ve found a great used car for the aspiring baller after big power, bigger sound effects, pedigree to spare, and the oh-so-swoopy look of a modern European four-door coupe. It’s none other than the classy snortbeast which Mercedes-Benz calls the CLS 63 AMG.

Shop one out if you’re after horsepower and luxury galore from a highly recognized ride that’s ultra-well-equipped, classy as heck, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (anymore).

The Sticky

Launched in 2011 in its current W218 generation, the CLS 63 AMG offered up no less than a 525 horsepower V8 engine, with an available performance package that bumped output even further. Depending on the year and model, some units packed the better part of 600 horsepower!

A low-slung four-door body with the silhouette of a coupe, and all mandatory AMG implements on board to enhance performance, agility, braking, output, and driving thrill factor – the CLS 63 AMG could even be ordered with a carbon-fibre spoiler and carbon-ceramic brakes. Serious stuff!

Look for a 6.2L V8 engine in 2011 models from this generation, or a 5.5L twin-turbo unit with improved power and efficiency thereafter.

This big-power machine packed all of the latest in high technology, and it still looks like big bucks and offers compelling performance today, even though they’ve become priced very reasonably in the used marketplace. Owners loved the classy looks, classier cabin, space to spare, and, of course, the overabundance of available thrust. Buy a CLS 63, and you’ll soon be serenading nearby motorists and pedestrians with the machine-gun exhaust note that often follows in its wake.

Best of all, various toggle switches and buttons switched driving modes, allowing drivers to change instantly between “Grey Poupon-seeking luxo-cruiser” and “Blast the neighbours out of bed to watch your burnout.”

Feature content included all top-line luxury performance must-haves, including carbon-fibre trim, up-level audio, radar cruise, navigation, a central command interface, leather-lined memory massage seats, premium lighting provisions, and more. Even today, a few years after this generation CLS 63 launched, the features list reads like that of a world-class flagship.

Approximate New Value

At launch in 2011, a CLS 63 relieved owners of no less than $121,000, before options. A year in, base-model pricing landed at a more modest $110,000, where it hovered until a revised 2015 model saw the base price climb back up into the $120,000’s. The gist? When new, the CLS 63 AMG was a $110,000 to $120,000 car, before options.

Approximate Used Value

Today, with reasonable mileage after just a few years, pricing has fallen to half of the CLS 63’s original value, or less. Here’s one example of a 2012, with the more efficient twin-turbo V8 and performance package, priced at $56,000. That’s half its original price, at just five years old, with 65,000 kilometres. Here’s another example.

The gist? Depreciation has left many a classy and potent CLS priced within reach of many a luxury car shopper. If your budget is larger, here’s a lower-mileage 2014 unit in S-Model guise with numerous add-on packages, for $77,500. Not cheap, but considerably less than the (approximately) $133,000 its original owner paid just a few years ago.

Test Drive Tips

Prepare a contingency fund for replacement tires, brakes, fuel, and other repairs, as needed. Though pricing has fallen, this is a six-figure, semi-exotic performance machine, with all of the running costs that go with it. Confirm that insurance and fuel costs (the 63 only drinks premium gas) fall within your budget, too.

Next, confirm that the seller isn’t trying to pass off a worn set of tires or brakes, by inspecting these consumable components, with the help of a technician if necessary, to confirm that they have plenty of life remaining. If that’s not the case, call it into your pricing negotiations. You’ll be out several thousand dollars if your new-to-you CLS 63 AMG needs new tires and a brake job.

The average shopper is advised to avoid a used model with the race-ready carbon-ceramic brakes, which can be cataclysmically expensive to replace.

Confirm that all fluids are within their service life, budgeting to change any that are coming up due. Some owners have reported excessive oil consumption, usually at low miles during engine break-in, but shoppers are advised to check the oil level and condition for maximum peace of mind, budgeting for an oil change if they’re unsure when the last one was carried out.

A loud, rhythmic ticking sound from the non-turbo V8 engine at idle, with the hood popped, could indicate a rare but noteworthy problem which may be caused by faulty camshafts or cam adjusters. A handful of owners have reported issues, often corrected under warranty. This issue could cause engine damage or failure if left unchecked – so be on the lookout. It’ll also be extremely pricey to repair out of warranty, and though it’s reported rarely, this issue makes the CLS 63 AMG a great candidate for extended warranty coverage.

Other advisable checks should include confirming proper operation of the rear window sunshade, the COMAND control dial, and the full breadth of climate control system functions. Some owners have reported a squeaky steering wheel, which a dealer can address quickly via a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB). Finally, note that a musty smell, similar to dirty socks, piped in through the climate control system when the A/C is engaged, indicates the need to have a dealer clean the A/C evaporator core, and possibly, the cabin air filter.

Two final notes: first, the average shopper should avoid a model with modified engine software, possibly in the form of a “chip” or a “tune” designed to increase power output, for maximum long-term durability. Second, if the model you’re considering has a matte-finish paint job, be aware that special cleaners, polishes and cleaning procedures are required for proper care. Do your homework.

The Verdict

With a clean bill of health after a pre-purchase inspection (PPI), fresh tires, fluids and brakes, and any available add-on extended warranty coverage, a healthy used CLS 63 AMG puts drivers at the helm of a classy, distinctive and very powerful four-door coupe, on the relative cheap.