Driven

Designer: 2019 Mercedes AMG CLS 53

Fifteen years have gone by since Mercedes unveiled the first ever four-door coupe. The CLS is the “OG” and, to our eyes, remains the benchmark in a crowding luxury segment. Fast forward to 2019 and the CLS has entered its third generation. This new CLS is still the best looking four-door coupe on the market and is ta technological marvel.

2019 Mercedes CLS53 AMG 1

That tech starts under the hood where, in this range-topping CLS 53, an all-new 3.0L inline six cylinder turbocharged engine is paired with a 48 volt hybrid system and an electric supercharger. Total output is 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. All that power is routed through a nine-speed automatic transmission and goes to all four wheels as standard. Mercedes claims a 4.4 second 0-60 time.

2019 Mercedes CLS53 AMG 6

On the outside, the CLS 53 is a pretty car. It isn’t as striking as that first generation car, the shape has softened and become a bit more familiar after all these years. The CLS 53 gets unique styling touches over the base CLS450 at the front and rear, as well as four round exhaust pipes. Our tester arrived optioned with designo Selenite Grey Magno matte paint and AMG 20″ wheels, which really fit the mold of the styling. Inside, the CLS is fairly similar to the rest of the AMG sedan range, and the E Class on which its based. High quality appointments surround you and the optional red leather in our car was definitely a standout. All driver aids were present, though Mercedes’ newest infotainment iteration remains absent for the time being. The front seats were extremely comfortable with adaptive bolstering on the seats as well as massage functions. In back, the seats were well padded and gave plenty of support, but the swooping roofline cut some headroom for anyone over 6 foot.

The Mercedes AMG CLS 53 is not, like the same suggests, a full AMG. The engine is not hand built, the steering feel and overall driving dynamics aren’t turned up to eleven, and the exhaust isn’t nearly loud enough. Think of the CLS 53 as an AMG-tuned vehicle that has had its engine and dynamics kicked up a notch. Our tester was fitted with the performance exhaust upgrade which sounded excellent, but did not give enough aural pleasure for our liking. We’re sure it would be better than the standard setup, however.

2019 Mercedes CLS53 AMG 5

Overall handling was sophisticated with multiple damper settings and drive modes to choose from. We kept everything in sport pretty much exclusively, but softened the dampers to comfort. Even with the softest suspension setting, the ride was definitely on the firm side, but that could be somewhat impacted by the 20″ wheels that we had our tester as well. When pushing the car through some of back roads, we noted that the steering was not confidence inspiring, but there was ample grip from the 4MATIC all-wheeld-drive system. The brakes were excellent and overall balance was very forgiving for a car of its size.

2019 Mercedes CLS53 AMG 9

The Mercedes CLS is a car that is more about design than practicality. Even with the extra spice of the AMG 53, it does suffer some setbacks in ride quality. We have not driven the sister car to this, the E 53, but we did experience a much softer ride in the E400 Cabriolet last fall. We certainly love the look and the design, but for the over $100,000 asking price of our tester, your money could be better spent elsewhere in the real AMG line.

-Scott Villeneuve

2019 Mercedes AMG CLS 53 Coupe
$79,900
designo Selenite Grey Magno (matte) $3,950
20-inch AMG twin 5-spoke w/black accents $750
Exterior Lighting Package $900
AMG Night Package $650
Bengal Red/Black Nappa leather $2,990
AMG Carbon Fiber $2,850
Warmth & Comfort Package $1,050
ENERGIZING Comfort Package $550
Ventilated front seats $450
Head-Up Display $990
Power rear-window sunshade $440
Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound system $4,550

Active multicontour front seats with massage

$1,320

Heated rear seats

$650
Parking Assist Package $1,290
Driver Assistance Package $2,250

AMG Performance Exhaust System

$1,250
Destination Charges $995
As Tested MSRP $109,845

 

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