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2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS53 AMG Review

Putting the new CLS53 AMG 4Matic+ to the test

Mercedes-Benz is responsible for many automotive innovations, but it was the company’s introduction of the CLS back in 2003 that triggered a growing trend – the stylish sedan coupe.  This new model offered consumers all the room and versatility of a sedan platform but came wrapped in a package that looked more like a sleek and stylish coupé.  The cost for this extra helping of curb appeal was merely the loss of a miniscule amount of rear headroom, but the uptake in visual curb-appeal was definitely worth it.  

For 2019 the CLS has been given a thorough makeover and arrives in showrooms with a new level of refinement, more curvaceous bodylines, lots of high-tech amenities, and a technological marvel of an engine. 

Styling

Mercedes is using the new CLS to set the stage for the brand’s future styling, as this car introduces the company’s new design language.  The car is slightly larger than its predecessor, but bests the outgoing car when it comes to overall aerodynamic efficiency. Its slippery and sleek bodywork has been carefully reworked to reduce the number of sharp lines and trim pieces that may disrupt airflow. The resulting car looks both refined and very dynamic. 

Related: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Review: Different style, more substance

The car’s long hood slopes forward at a more aggressive angle and new slender LED high performance headlights have been integrated with the body so that they follow the body lines and enhance the design rather than look bolted on. A bold, wide-mouthed diamond pattern grille and AMG designed front fascia announces this car’s arrival and hints at its performance potential. 

The rear of the car is more tapered and also features a new LED lighting system with innovative Edge Light technology. The overall look is a design study in aerodynamic efficiency as it is bereft of the excess trim pieces and plumage often associated with cars in this segment. All that remains is a subtle trunk spoiler, a tidy rear apron, and four flush-mounted chrome exhaust tips. 

Drivetrain

The CLS53 derives its motivation from one of the most innovative engine designs to ever grace an engine bay. The 3.0-litre bi-turbo inline-six cylinder engine produces a potent 429-horsepower and a 384 foot-pounds of torque, but also benefits from a technological marvel product planners refer to as EQ Boost.

The EQ Boost starter-alternator supports the combustion engine with additional power and torque (boost) as required and the gains are quite impressive. Under hard acceleration the EQ Boost uses its 48-Volt vehicle electrical system to generate up to 21-horsepower and 184 lb.-ft of torque.  This clever system will reclaim energy during braking and on overrun, which helps reduce both fuel consumption and overall CO2 emissions. The EQ Boost starter-alternator also brings along additional hybrid functions such as Silent Start – almost imperceptible starting of the engine and it controls idling which allows it to turn the engine off when the vehicle is rolling to a stop or coasting on the highway. 

Performance Features

I will be the first to admit that I miss the throaty growl of the AMG-tuned V8 that used to power the CLS, but after spending a week with the car I found that its performance still managed to satiate my enthusiast needs despite being a more eco-friendly platform.  

As you might expect from a car packing plenty of ponies acceleration is strong, and the CLS53 AMG will hustle to 100 kilometres-per-hour in a mere 4.5 seconds.  Interestingly, there’s virtually no turbo lag as the EQ Boost power fills the gap while the car’s turbocharger spools up as you press down on the accelerator.  

Shifting duties are handled by an AMG 9-speed gearbox that has been designed to accommodate quick starts as well as optimize overall efficiency.  The CLS53 AMG is also equipped with AMG 4MATIC+ Variable All-Wheel-Drive which means that when fitted with the proper tire this car will be suitable for four season use. 

Mercedes’ AMG Dynamic Select system is also on board, allowing the driver to adjust the car’s suspension and optimize the performance of throttle, chassis, gearbox and exhaust parameters. It also benefits from AMG Ride Control+ which offers three stages of suspension damping to ensure both comfort and precise and predictable handling.

The car is equipped with a special two-piece radiator shutter with adaptive closing function for the air intake. Mercedes calls this the AIRPANEL and it adjusts on demand to changing driving conditions to feed air to the engine or when closed, achieve optimum aerodynamic efficiency. 

On the Inside

The interior is both striking and comfortable. The car’s seats are wrapped in fine Nappa leather and seem infinitely adjustable. These seats are both heated and cooled, and offer the front passengers active bolsters and a whole array of massage options. 

Ergonomics are good for all but the tallest individuals, and all the major controls, switchgear, and gauges fall readily to both hand and eye, but it is the various shapes and textures of some of the trim pieces and vents that give the car a high-tech appeal.

The car’s virtual instrument panel is easy to read and well protected from glare, as is the dash mounted COMAND infotainment screen which provides navigation as well as a wealth of access controls and information about the car’s various systems. The steering wheel offers secondary controls for more vital functions, and the alloy shift paddles proved very effective when it came time to play. 

I managed to squeeze my oversized frame into the rear seating area without much sacrifice with regards to comfort, that is as long as the front passengers didn’t have their seats pushed all the way back on the rails. The rear cabin is roomier than before and ergonomics are great, and for the most part, all but the largest stature adults will find the cabin of this car a very pleasant place to be.  

Lots of Options

Mercedes offers a long list of optional equipment packages so customers can equip their cars to meet their individual needs. All the usual comfort, safety and technology offerings expected in a car of this category are available, but the standard model is very well outfitted.  The big news is that Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC is now standard on this model, making manoeuvring into and out of parking spaces a far less stressful venture. 

The new CLS53 AMG is more of an evolution than a revolution this time around, but it still sets the standard for the sedan coupé segment it started, and offers the refinement, luxury and performance one expects from this storied brand. 

Shots:


2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS53 AMG 4Matic+ Technical Specifications:

  • Base price (MSRP): 92,000
  • Type: All-wheel-drive 5 passenger sedan coupé. 
  • Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-6 with EQ Boost                          
  • Transmission: AMG Speedshift TCT 9-Speed automatic  
  • Horsepower:  429 (+21) @ 6,100 rpm  
  • Torque (lb.ft): 384 (+184) @ 1,800 rpm
  • Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
  • Truck capacity: 490 Litres
  • Fuel economy (L/100km): City 12.4; Highway 8.7  
Russell Purcellhttps://www.flickr.com/people/autoexposurecanada/
Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.

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