The first hybrid (mild) from Mercedes-AMG, the CLS 53, faces the Porsche Panamera 4S. How good is the electric-sustained inline six-cylinder four-door coupe? FIRST COMPARISON TEST.
So far, new AMG engines have been quite consistent: the gentlemen from Affalterbach like to blow your mind with power which wants to be admired in all its splendor. Now AMG proposes a completely new engine chapter with the drive of the new CLS 53: a mild-hybrid high-tech inline six-cylinder – the four-liter twin-turbo V8 is now reserved forthe upcoming AMG GT four-door. Will that satisfy the fans of the elegant coupe sedan?
From a technical point of view, the new single-turbo L6 is a real treat. The driving force is an integrated starter generator (IGS), which feeds 16 kW and 250 Nm of torque as a starting aid. In addition, the e-engine helper dominates important hybrid functions such as recuperation, load point shifting and sailing. In addition, the booster supplies the energy for the 48-volt electrical system and replaces the starter and alternator. The electricity for the electric compressor – which in turn should help the exhaust gas turbocharger at low revs – supplies the starter generator. If that sounds like molecular cooking, you’re right. The driving experience of the new 53er has nothing in common with the clutter-free AMG nature of bygone days: the high-tech drive wakes up without vibration, even before the driver’s finger has released from the start button.
And as equitably begins the ride, when the CLS in Eco mode meekly sets in motion, the digital tachometer reveals that the upshifting of the nine-stage automatic is a priority and the electronics shut down the engine in sailing mode on every little occasion. Inevitably one feels reminded of the Porsche Panamera, whose dual-clutch gearbox equally quickly sorts the gears and knows how to use every short lash of the gas pedal as an invitation for fuel-efficient gliding (when idling). Modern hybrid technology is also available in the Panamera: The top model Turbo S E-Hybrid provides thanks to the electric motor boost 680 hp, the smaller 4 e-hybrid comes with 468 hp system performance. Both can – unlike the CLS 53 – also drive purely electrically. According to the paper, the 4 E-Hybrid would have been the more interesting opponent for the CLS 53. Its V6 combustion engine is, however, significantly weaker than that of the AMG with 330 hp.
That’s why the conventionally powered Panamera 4S with 440 hp and 550 Nm of torque is used for our comparison. It is fired by the 2.9-liter V6 biturbo, which also performs its duties in the Audi RS 4 and RS 5. With a significant difference: Unlike the Ingolstadt models, the intake is double-flowed. Compared to the Audi configuration, the Panamera engine loses 10 hp and 50 Nm of torque.
Positive effects? No. The familiar (from the RS models character) power flow that pours evenly without a rapid evolution on the rev range, looks even smoother in the Panamera. More revving joy, athleticism or charisma? None. The PDK does not make it any better: despite its shorter translated rear axle, the six pistons have to compete against those endlessly long gears five to eight that are already tampering with the more powerful turbo. It helps only hard downshifting on the paddle and squeeze the V6 repeatedly up to the stop. Especially when driving fast on the highway, the drive looks nervous and not very sovereign. The CLS 53 drives more relaxed: As silky cultivated as a BMW straight-six, the new Mercedes miracle engine does not rev high, but the rise to the speed plateau runs despite the complicated charge (E-compressor, e-booster, exhaust turbo) absolutely even. The barely audible starter generator disappears with increasing speed more and more under the bright full-load acoustics of the L6. The response is spontaneous in each speed range, a turbo lag just does not exist.
This fits the spreading of the speed levels, which keep the engine accurate and thus subjectively something more committed than that of the Porsche. But all these positive traits can not hide the fact that the 53er lacks a character trait that has shaped the AMG driving experience so emotionally for years: the monumental thrust of the speed and power, which has so reverently introduced the enjoyment of motor opulence. To be honest, anyone who appreciates this monotone-symmetrical performance build-up of the 53ers can also choose a Tesla instead.
|Model||CLS 53||Panamera 4S|
|Engine Type||Turbo + E-starter + E-Booster/1,2 bar||Biturbo/1,8 bar|
|Capacity||2999 cm³||2894 cm³|
|Power||320 (435) PS /6100 rpm||324 (440)PS /5650-6600 rpm|
|Torque||520 Nm / 1800-5800 rpm||550 Nm / 1750-5500|
|Lenght /Width/Height||5001/1890/1422 mm||5049/1937/1423 mm|
|Wheelbase||2939 mm||2950 mm|
|Tank/Trunk||80/490 l||75/495-1304 l|
|Base price (Germany)||88.001 Euro||139.885 Euro|