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Merc's new CLS 53 AMG is a sort-of hybrid

Clever engine tech on new 4WD, 429bhp CLS 53 apparently evades turbo lag

Published: 15 Jan 2018

Mercedes has given its new, curiously styled CLS the AMG treatment. But before you start salivating about the E63’s infamous Drift Mode in swoopier, more svelte four-door, calm yourself. And prepare for a mild lecture.

The introduction of another AMG product is also the dawn of a new AMG number. The current range includes 43s, 45s and 63s… and now the 53.

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This is the CLS 53 AMG, and it has a new engine and some interesting tech. The base engine is – as you’d expect – a twin-turbo petrol. It’s a 3.0-litre straight-six, however, something you’d normally expect in a BMW.

It produces 429bhp and 384lb ft, which when pushed through its four-wheel-drive system, yields a 4.5sec 0-62mph time. Quick, but a time not in the sub-fours marks this out as a tamer AMG product. We suspect a full-strength CLS 63 will come in time.

Only, those figures aren’t its absolute peaks, because the petrol engine is supplemented by some clever electric stuff. It doesn't comprise motors on the wheels, like proper hybrid performance cars, rather an ‘EQ Boost’ starter-alternator motor between the engine and transmission.

It delivers 21bhp and a more substantial 184lb ft, essentially filling in the gap normally left by turbo lag to improve performance, while also cutting fuel consumption. Mercedes quotes 33.6mpg and 200g/km of CO2 emissions. Impressive on a near two-tonne AMG-badged saloon.

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The gearbox is a nine-speed auto, while the four-wheel-drive system is naturally rear-drive, with the front axle assisting whenever the clever computers deem it helpful or necessary. But while the system can frequently be rear-drive only, there’s no cheat-code Drift Mode here. We suspect the CLS 53 will still allow some lairiness with sufficiently exuberant driving, mind.

Other nice bits include ‘AMG Ride Control+’ air suspension, which can lift the car up over speed bumps then drop it back down when you want to go quickly, and a wealth of semi-self-driving tech and wellness functions to keep you happy and stress-free inside.

The CLS 53 AMG comes with 19in wheels as standard, with 20s optional, while there’s a subtle body kit to ensure you’ll be able to tell it apart from lesser diesel versions. The nerdiest detail is its front air curtains, subtly worked into the front bumper and designed to reduce lift on the front wheels.

Don’t want a four-door? The 53 powertrain simultaneously goes into the E-Class coupe and convertible. Merc boasts that the 53 AMG treatment is a bit posher and comes with more colour and trim choices than the 43 AMG, which you get on E-Class saloons and estates. The coupe and convertible weigh almost the same as the CLS, so offer nigh on identical performance and economy numbers.

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All three body styles have been revealed at the Detroit motor show, with prices to follow. Like what you see? Or are you patiently hoping for a properly tyre-killing CLS Sixty-three?

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