Downside: It's a gas-guzzler. Also, the rear passenger cabin is a tight fit for the two passengers assigned to that space, unless they are small-framed adults or young children. The beauty of the CLSS55 AMG's super-sleek body is compromised by the contortion of human bodies getting in and out of the car.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The problem with Good and Evil is that they often wear the same face, as they do here. Ride, acceleration and handling are superior -- so seductive and addictive that they keep you in the car, constantly searching for the next curve, the next fast lane, going nowhere in particular in a world of specific agonies.

Head-turning quotient: Super, simply super.

Body style/layout: The CLS55 AMG is the extreme version of the CLS500, a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, four-door sports sedan that has the appearance of a two-door coupe. AMG is the performance-car division of Mercedes-Benz.

Engine/transmission: The car is equipped with a supercharged 5.5-liter, 24-valve V-8 engine that develops 469 horsepower at 6,100 revolutions per minute and 516 foot-pounds of torque between 2,650 and 4,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.

Cargo and fuel capacities: There is seating for four people. Luggage capacity is 15.8 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 21.1 gallons of required premium unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: I averaged 18 miles per gallon in city and highway driving.

Safety: Loaded. Side and head air bags front and rear; traction and stability control; rigid body structure; electronic brake-force distribution to better control the car in panic stops.

Price: Base price on the tested 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG is $86,600. Dealer invoice price on base model is $80,538. Price as tested is $92,975, including $3,900 in options, a $1,700 U.S. gas-guzzler tax and a $775 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $86,640. Prices sourced from Mercedes-Benz, Edmunds.com, and Cars.com, a Washington Post affiliate.

Purse-strings note: An option for the wealthy. Compare with BMW 545i, Cadillac CTS-V, Jaguar XJR and Maserati Quattroporte.