There are just two elements that could account for that price difference: The CLS' more advanced V-8 engine and its darn appealing, elegant design. Like most new Benzes, the CLS features a large, dominant grille, in this case embedded with a gigantic three-pointed star. And of course there are optional full LED headlights. Luxury automakers are in a war to see which can use more LEDs to illuminate our roads, and the CLS comes to the fight with two stories of LED strips in the headlight cluster Ч to great effect.

The CLS' design trademark is the sloping roofline that many other vehicles have emulated over the years. For 2012, the car allows for a more traditional profile, albeit one dressed up with scallops running along the doors. It then radically drops off in the rear in a rounded truncation.

It's a startling effect, set off with giant taillights, yet whenever I try to describe it I end up using the word "droopy."

The CLS63 AMG has larger, 19-inch wheels, a more aggressive front bumper, a chin spoiler and quad exhaust.

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