FIRST DRIVE | A trio of AMG 53 juggernauts smash their way into SA
The CLS 53 AMG may be short on venom compared with the V8 models but it is considerably more fuel efficient
The new Mercedes-Benz CLS with its curvaceous shape ultimately has no business hunting for apexes on the corners of any racetrack. This realisation dawns on me while I languidly thread the newly debuted CLS 53 AMG between a set of cones at Kyalami raceway at last week’s media launch.
There’s a distinguishable elegance about how the car steers at slow speeds. The steering is light and despite the car measuring 5,087mm in length, the turning circle is very small.
Damping is superb too and the adjustable parameters can be tailored for extreme cushiness on the road or a hunkered-down, stiffer and sportier texture. It looks much more compressed, sharper and fluidly sorted in shape than before. The new CLS wears Mercedes-Benz’s latest great white shark shape best. It’s purposeful in cutting it as the sleekest four-door saloon in the harem.
The rear seating is a highlight. Gone are the individual seats with a centre console. In place is a full bench to accommodate three. The roofline in the rear also has a cutaway section to create more headroom. The overall cabin ambience is good and roomy. In terms of amenities, the CLS 53 comes with a catalogue befitting its status.
The new car brings with it its own significant technical changes, the highlight being mild-hybridisation thanks to a new EQ Boost starter-alternator. This unit briefly provides an additional 16kW and 250Nm while an auxiliary compressor builds up a high charge pressure for a faster increase in torque for acceleration before the large exhaust gas turbocharger is deployed. The company says the result is spontaneous implementation of power and the eradication of turbo lag.
Unlike the 3.0l biturbo V6 that propels the 43 AMG series it uses a new, more alive and musical 320kW and 520Nm biturbo 3.0l straight-six. It makes a great companion for fluent performance, dynamism and everyday driving combination with an equally new nine-speed automatic transmission with shorter ratios and 4Matic all-wheel drive underpinnings.
The efficiency in delivering the goods is seen with a claimed 4.5 second time from 0-100 km/h. In Sport+ mode when its bi-modial exhaust butterflies are open wide, the CLS 53 screams and shouts all the way up to its governed 250km/h top speed. When optioned with the Driver’s package, top speed increases to 270km/h.
As an AMG creation you’d naturally expect it’ll ravage its fuel supply but lowered fuel consumption is a primary pursuit for upgrading to a 48V battery system, which takes some key electrical duties away from the engine output. Mercedes-AMG claims that the CLS 53 will consume just 8.9l/100km on a combined cycle and that’s easy to believe if you will pilot the car in a way deserving of such a graceful-looking thing rather than hooning around on a racetrack.
Launched in SA at the same time as the CLS 53 are the new E53 coupé and cabriolet models, which benefit from a similar suite of comprehensive technology, the efficient 48V electrical system and the 3.0l biturbo engine.
They also enjoy the optional driving assistance packages on offer that include active distance assist distronic, active steering assist, active speed limit assist, active braking assist with cross-traffic function, evasive steering assist, active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, and an improved active lane-changing assist.
The optional driving assistance plus package includes pre-safe impulse side that braces front occupants for a side impact by nudging them sideways to reduce the risk of injury.
The various optional aesthetic treatments like the night package also available on other AMG 53 models look decidedly more meaningful and stylish on their chic two-door shapes. The cabrio also benefits from seats equipped with AirScarf to counter the elements in top-down driving.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 53 4MATIC+ — R1,491,600
Mercedes-Benz E53 Coupé 4MATIC+ — R1,311,700
Mercedes-Benz E53 4Matic+ Cabriolet — R1,430,600