How did your passion for motors begin…
I have always had a passion for cars since I was young when I collected dinky cars and played with them up to a rather embarrassing age!
Join the club — we still play with our model cars too. Tell us the types of cars you have owned…
I have been fortunate enough to have owned many interesting cars since being able to drive. My first car was a Peugeot 205 GTi, which was a great ride at the time, and after two years I bought a used Mercedes 190E with an AMG kit and wheels, which I also loved.
Several Toyota MR2 Turbos also came into my mitts when I was younger and I remember what a far cry the Japanese imported model was from that what was released in the UK; these 250bhp twin-turbo imports had stronger gearboxes and were obviously very quick.
They had a lot of guts. Any other interesting cars?
Other memorable cars I have owned include a Nissan Skyline GT-R, Porsche 911 (996) Carrera 2, 4S and Turbo of which the Carrera 2 was my favourite as it was by far the most fun. I also owned two Mercedes SL55 AMGs in the UK, which were both fabulous cars at the time and I still think the shape has stood the test of time with it only just getting away from the original in the upcoming new model that has just been released.
When arriving in Dubai almost nine years ago my first car was a Range Rover Vogue, which I kept until I got a Range Rover Sport. I then went back to a Supercharged Vogue and this would be my pick of the bunch; I am 188cm tall and quite stocky and found the Sport a little cramped.
Tell us about your Bentley…
It was in March 2007 that Bentley had recently released the GTC, and this coincided with some investments coming into fruition so I went ahead and bought one and added some tasteful aftermarket wheels. I enjoyed this car a lot but in the middle of 2009 I was tired of treating it with ‘kid gloves’ and not wanting to park it anywhere, so decided to get another car. This was when I started to look down the AMG route once more as I knew what great drivers’ cars they are.
Which one did you have in mind?
I remember that I always admired the CLs when they were first released in 2007, but at the time believed they were overpriced when new. When looking I also wanted something a little bit different from the norm, whilst at the same time being discreet and the CL ticked the box here. They were now coming into the marketplace with a saving of around 25 per cent, so I decided to take a closer look.
I obviously subsequently bought one and have been totally smitten since. Without any doubt this is the best all-round car I have ever owned; it is solidly built, extremely comfortable, very well appointed with every toy that a tech-head like myself could ever want. Most importantly, it gives the greatest deal of driver satisfaction that I have ever experienced — the price is well warranted. Apart from the SLS the CL is the flagship of the Mercedes range (not the S class that most people believe) and is very understated whilst still being a great ‘feel good’ car.
These are great fun to drive. You must really enjoy it?
Yes, the performance of the 6.2-litre V8 is legendary. The most impressive factor is the sound it makes under acceleration — it’s like a jet engine. It has a truly thunderous roar that is a joy to listen to, especially from outside. From the inside the car is so well insulated that it is too quiet in my opinion.
BMW has addressed this problem by playing the exhaust note through the speakers under acceleration in the M5, and Mercedes should consider this for petrolheads like me! The gearbox is another great thing about the CL63 as it has a seven-speed tiptronic that can also be operated by the Formula 1-style paddles.
I normally drive the car in comfort mode as there are ample amounts of torque available, but there is a sport mode that makes gear changes a lot more frequent and fierce and are completed in the blink of an eye. It really does have a racecar feel when in this mode. I drive it every day to work and still take a great deal of pleasure out of every journey I make. In fact, I can say that I still enjoy the car as much today as the day I bought it three years ago.
It handles really well too…
The handling is somewhat of a revelation as it runs on air suspension and gives the most gentle of rides at low speeds, gliding over small bumps, yet at high cornering speeds it has virtually no body roll and goes around roundabouts unlike anything a car weighing in at 2.25 tonnes should.
Have you customised it in any way?
I have only really modified it by putting on carbon-fibre wing mirrors, having the standard wheels painted black and tinting the rear lenses. This was only done recently because I had owned the car for far longer than I would normally do and was an exercise purely to refresh the looks.
The interior is rather nice…
It is truly a special place with modern design and all the gadgets that you could ever want ranging from air-conditioned massage seats that squeeze in automatically on your sides when cornering (making passengers jump the first time they experience it!) right through to a hi-fi system that is near perfect.
Has it cost you a lot to maintain?
Service costs have been minimal setting me back around Dh4,000 per year for a full scheduled main dealer service at Gargash. The only real cost of owning the CL has been the depreciation in the first few years, but you can eliminate this by bagging yourself a three- to four-year-old one.
You can pick up a good low-mileage one for around Dh300,000 now, which represents great value for what I believe is one of the best cars ever made. I have seen regular comments on the CL in wheels and completely concur with your views that there is no more complete car on the market right now at this price range. I think the new BMW M5 may give it a run for its money, but I prefer the styling of the CL.
You’re a Benz kind of a guy aren’t you…
You won’t find me deserting Mercedes in favour of their Bavarian friends any time soon. My wife drives an SUV and there is obviously only one choice for her (or more like me because I borrow it sometimes!); the ML63 AMG.