Our CLS63 was equipped with the AMG Performance Package, which boosts engine output to 550 horsepower and the top speed to 186 mph.

For most people, summer is driving season-- day trips, road trips, drives to the beach, festivals, fairs, visiting friends and commuting in the bright sunshine. This summer, U.S. News is putting the cars we test through their summer paces and giving you tips and advice for making the most of your summer driving. In this installment, the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG heads to the Jersey shore.

A while back, we mentioned that the Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 had a bold, commanding presence. Well, if you thought that the GLK stuck out like Paris Hilton at Bible study, allow me to introduce the 2012 Mercedes CLS63 AMG, which sees your Hilton and raises it a trio of Kardashians. The CLS63 is the performance version of the all-new 2012 CLS550, and with its bold design, AMG badging and a quartet of exhaust pipes, there’s no blending-in while driving the CLS63. The car constantly received looks of admiration, lust and envy everywhere I drove it.

Ample tech and safety features live on the CLS63

However, an eye-catching design isn’t the only thing the CLS63 has going for it. The CLS takes to the highway like a great white shark takes to the open sea: It’s completely capable of eating slower cars around it for breakfast.

Our test car had the Performance Package, boosting engine output to 550 horsepower, and on a trip to the Jersey shore and back, the CLS proved powerful, comfortable and not horribly inefficient. Over 463 miles of mixed city and highway driving, the CLS63 managed to return 19 mpg, which is in line with Mercedes’ estimates of 15/22 mpg city/highway fuel economy.

The 2012 CLS63 AMG has a starting price of $94,900. Price as tested: $116,230.

But it’s not all aces for the CLS63. While I was comfortable in the front seats, at 6’1”, I had trouble getting into the back. The CLS’ sloping roofline means that if you’re on the tall side, getting in and out of those rear-bucket seats is going to be anything but graceful. Once I was inside, I had adequate head and leg room, and I’d say the CLS63’s rear seats are about as spacious as the Audi A7. However, entry and exit was much easier in the Audi.

Four-door coupes bring an element of sex appeal to the sedan platforms they’re based on, but they usually trade some functionality for their attractive designs.