Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 2018 review

  • First Drive Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 2018 review
    The new Mercedes-Benz CLS gets launched in fast new Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 form - among others. Can the new four-door coupe out-slick the Audi A7?
Matt Prior
1 March 2018
Follow @@matty_prior
What is it?

Fifty-three, then. Not 63, not 43 and, heaven forbid, not 65. The new Mercedes-Benz CLS – the sleek four-door coupé now into its third generation, can you believe? – is here, and the rapid AMG variant, the 53, is almost as significant as the fact that the car itself is new.

Perhaps more so. But let’s deal with the CLS bit first. It’s a new CLS, frameless of window, large-Mercedes-platformed of platform, seating five and promising to do the same ‘sleeker E-Class thing’ as it has done during the past 15 years. To that end, it’s E-Class sized, 4.98m long, with a range of turbocharged and electrically enhanced diesel and petrol engines, which will extend to a four-cylinder petrol come September.

In ‘53’, a new AMG naming strategy has emerged, as it has for the regular models, where an increasing number indicates merely an increasing power output, albeit derived from a structure originally based around engine capacity. 

On some models, a 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder engine becomes the AMG 43, while there’s also a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 known as the 63. Between these, AMG reckons there’s enough room to slot a 53 derivative. Whether a particular car will get 43, 53 or 63 options will, ultimately, be at AMG’s whim, but my guess is that if there’s a stand-alone AMG model above it, you’ll get a 53 and an AMG, and if not, you’ll have a 43 and a 63. So the E-Class coupé has a 53 with the AMG GT coupé above it. The CLS has a 53 and the upcoming GT4. The E-Class, say, would have 43 and 63 derivatives. Perhaps. I’ve been wrong before. Some might get all three.