Mercedes-AMG relies for the first time on hybrid drive, dedicating an all-new name to the family of electrified models: “53”. Hence, the first AMG hybrid is called the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53. First test drive!
The all-new CLS is one of the first Mercedes models to get the latest AMG engine, the inline six-cylinder. Because the strongest version of the straight-six (CLS 450 with 367 hp plus 22 hp e-boost) has to be trumped, the developers are increasing the output of the three-liter turbo petrol with electric assistance: output increases to 435 hp plus the additional 22 hp developed by the electric generator mounted on the crankshaft – for a grand total of 457 hp.
The new Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 uses a variation of the M256 inline six-cylinder. With turbocharging and electric auxiliary compressor, the nominal values peak at 435 hp and 520 Nm of torque as well as an additional 22 hp thanks to short-term e-boost. Gradually, the 53er should replace the old V6 Biturbo known as the 43-AMG. The big advantage of the E-support should be the spontaneous response, which is to be made possible by the 250 Newton meters torque provided by the electric starter generator – it also feeds the 48-volt electrical system. The additional electric compressor helps to quickly build up the full boost pressure. The power is sorted by a nine-speed automatic transmission, which helps the nearly two-ton CLS 53 to accelerate in 4.5 seconds to 100 km / h – also thanks to all-wheel drive.
Visually, the CLS 53 sets itself apart from the normal CLS models – without appearing too aggressive, after all, in the coming months, the four-door version of the AMG GT should follow. The 53er is therefore satisfied to present itself with a slightly sharper front bumper. Distinctive features of the AMG variant are the double chrome louvers in the grill, the sill panels and the rear apron with diffuser insert and four round tailpipes.
As standard, the CLS rides on 19-inch alloy wheels, but optionally it can get 20-inch wheels. The technicians have also broadened the track of the AMG model compared to the normal CLS: the handling in curves should improve, explains Mercedes. The CLS 53 does not yet have a real competitor – until the new S7 comes out, at most the Porsche Panamera pursues the same concept of a coupé-like power four-door. The BMW M6 Gran Coupe plays with its 560 hp in another performance league.
Interior: luxury and sportiness in harmony
When entering the CLS 53 Edition 1, one thing is immediately clear: the copper accents in the cockpit are extremely well chosen for the coupé hybrid AMG. The carbon trims with filigree copper threads in the honeycombs, while the matching decorative seams complete the picture. The sports seats are not overly clamped or hard – the AMG-CLS is anyway a GT rather than a racing track tool. This also applies to the seating position. Comfortable, yes. But upwards – like the normal CLS – is not much space for tall people. Who is over 1.90 meters tall, will probably want a lower seat. Consistently positive: the steering wheel with the Edition 1 badge does not only make a good impression visually but, thanks to the perforated nappa leather, feels very comfortable in hand and easy to grip.
The infotainment system with its two 12.3-inch screens (optional) is familiar from the CLS, E, S and G-Class and also displays driving data, navigation and infotainment content in the CLS 53. In addition to the familiar functions, drivers can view engine and transmission oil temperatures, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, instantaneous engine power and applied torque as well as boost pressure and information on tire pressure and temperature. When the extra thrust of the electric generator (plus 22 hp and 250 Nm) is available, the driver reads that in a separate display.
Driving: Comfortable and well insulated
Thanks to the additional electric compressor, the boost pressure is built up very quickly – so the CLS 53 rushes to its top speed spontaneously and virtually without turbo lag after accelerating. The driver can adjust the engine and gearshift characteristics, steering and suspension individually via five driving programs. Even in sports mode, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 with its air suspension is always a comfortable travel companion that does not transmit any info even about rough bumps on the road to the spine of the occupants. In comfort mode, around curves, the CLS 53 circled without quirks, just as it was on rails, with rolling movements barely detectable. On the highway, it hardly needs steering corrections because of the precise straight-line stability.
The steering itself works precisely, the nine-speed automatic transmission switches gears virtually instantaneously and can also be manually controlled by handy paddles on the steering wheel. The engineers have done a lot of work on the subject of acoustics. Inside you hear almost nothing even at high speed, which is a pity especially in the AMG variant- because the rich sound of the engine and the bullying in the intermediate gas when fast downshifting are a real buying argument for many AMG fans.
The huge and mostly optional range of assistance systems also makes the AMG sports car a comfortable Gran Turismo. Officially, Mercedes estimates the average consumption of the AMG engine at 8.7 liters/100 km – under twelve liters were during our first test sound more real, however, even if adhering to the Spanish speed limits.
Prices have not yet been disclosed – Autobild expects a starting price of around 90,000 euros. Market launch for the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 is at the end of May 2018.
Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 • Engine: 3.0-liter L6 with turbocharger and electric auxiliary compressor • Displacement: 2999 cc • Power: 435 hp (gasoline engine) + 22 hp e-boost • Maximum torque: 520 Nm (gasoline engine) + 250 Nm E-Boost • Transmission: 9-speed automatic • Drive: Four-wheel drive • Consumption: 8.4 l / 100 km • Weight: 1905 kg (DIN) / 1980 kg (EG) • 0-100 km / h: 4.5 seconds • Top speed: 250 km / h (270 km / h with AMG Driver’s Package).