When the Mercedes-Benz CLS was introduced in 2004 as a four-door coupe, there was a look of confusion amongst the industry and consumers. Mercedes decided to change the game and perception of what a coupe should be. With close to 400,000 units sold worldwide since its debut, there is little reason for Mercedes to give up on a good thing. Our 2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ here continues the four-door coupe tradition.
Purists will bemoan the loss of the handbuilt V8 engine in the previous generation CLS, though this is a sad truth that’s unlikely to change as the industry marches towards electrification. However, the powerplant in this latest CLS 53 is nothing to sneeze at. With 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft. of torque on tap, this is more than enough for the majority of consumers. The 3.0-liter inline-six that’s turbocharged with a mild-hybrid system and auxiliary compressor is one smooth engine that revs freely all the way up to 5,000RPM with ease.
With the electric powered compressor and EQ Boost, turbo lag is almost non-existent. It truly is a technical tour de force and an engine that Mercedes should be very proud to call their own. This engine is also shared with several other models in the AMG 53 lineup. The CLS 53 runs from 0 to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds. This number is fine but for comparison’s sake, a 2018 CLS 63 S has been tested in the mid three-second range. The inline-six in our tester sounds good, but there is no comparison with the V8 being the clear winner when it comes to power, speed and engine noise.
Mercedes-Benz has always been a company where the level of luxury is first and foremost. The AMG CLS 53 leans towards the sporty side and you really do feel it. Even in comfort mode, the ride is stiff. Dial up the drive mode to Sport or Sport+ and prepare your spine even with the standard air suspension; the relaxing and cushy ride is completely absent. Handling is impressive for such a large vehicle and the standard 4MATIC+ all wheel drive system helps greatly.
Steering feel is lacking, which is disappointing for a car with such sporting intentions. Non-enthusiasts will be perfectly happy with the steering, and that’s really who this specific mild-AMG model is targeted towards. Pops and bangs from the exhaust will make you giggle if that’s your thing. Hit the exhaust button to select your preferred level of noise. Real purists can opt for the full-on AMG experience in the AMG GT 63 or GT two-door grand tourers.
While Mercedes-Benz likes to call the CLS a coupe due to the exterior design, it is by all definitions a sedan. It looks fantastic at all angles and sitting between the E-Class and S-Class models, the CLS has to stand a fine line and provide something unique to attract consumers. The coupe-like design is sporty and sleek unlike the traditional offerings, though the trade off is headroom for those in the rear. Unlike the two previous generations, this CLS can seat three passengers in the rear.
Our tester has the optioned 429 package which blacks out the side sills, side mirrors, front splitter window surrounds and adds 20-inch AMG five-spoke matte wheels. The look is definitely more aggressive and sporty. The AMG Track Package was also optioned for red calipers and the ability to select added Race and Drift modes.
I cannot say enough about the interior. The materials used throughout are sumptuous and generally a great place to be. The build quality is typical Mercedes-Benz and feels like money well spent. The dual 12.3-inch screens up front are in their usual place like any current Mercedes. Resolution is crisp and clear, though navigating the various menus in MBUX takes getting used to. Spend some time getting acquainted with the system and it becomes second nature. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard for easy integration.
During our test week, I was surprised by the fuel efficiency of such a quick and heavy vehicle. I achieved a combined 10.7L/100 km of evenly mixed city and highway driving. This factors in liberal use of the Sport modes in the vehicle and a heat wave in Toronto at the time of testing. Mercedes’ official ratings are 11.6L/100km city and 8.8L/100km highway, for a combined 10.3L/100km. Naturally, premium fuel is required.
The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 would never be considered a value proposition as it starts at $99,900. With the list of options selected on our tester, the final tally amounted to $118,850. For the level of luxury and Mercedes badge to be found here, the price tag is more than worth it for a handful of owners. Key competitors at this price point include the BMW M850i Gran Coupe and Audi S7.
With more and more consumers gravitating towards boring electrified crossovers, the fact that the 2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ actually exists is a blessing. Buyers that put performance, handling and style above all else have an option that will make them quite happy. There are some compromises with the CLS but just looking at one in your driveway makes those issues disappear immediately.