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Mercedes-AMG CLS53 heads electrified range at $179,900

By Ryan Lewis, 09 Mar 2018 News

Mercedes-AMG CLS53 lands hybrid punch at 179900

Three-strong CLS line-up confirmed for Oz, topped by AMG’s 320kW in-line six

MERCEDES-BENZ has confirmed a three-strong line-up for its third-gen CLS four-door coupe’s Australian debut later this year.

First to arrive will be the Mercedes-Benz CLS450 in the third quarter of 2018, priced from $155,900. Joining it before the year runs out will be AMG’s first electrified vehicle, the CLS53 at $179,900, and an entry-level CLS350 priced from $136,900.

All three cars feature 48-volt mild hybrid technology and internal combustion engines from the German marque’s family of recently launched turbocharged inline four- and six-cylinder powerplants.

Both the CLS450 and CLS53 use a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine, producing 270kW/500Nm in the CLS450 and, via a larger turbocharger, 320kW/520Nm in the CLS53. Powering the base CLS350 is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 220kW/400Nm outputs.

The 48-volt system adds an electric starter/generator, dubbed EQ Boost, to assist the petrol engine. The electric motor nudges on-demand performance for short bursts – by 10kW/150Nm for the four-cylinder units, and by 16kW/250Nm for the sixes.

The CLS53 uses a conventional exhaust-driven turbocharger and takes performance a step further with an auxiliary 48V electric compressor used to add low-range boost, helping to improve fuel economy and acceleration figures. The 1905kg AMG will hit 100km/h in 4.5sec. Drive a bit more conservatively, and the average official fuel use on the euro cycle is 8.7L/100km.

A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, as is all-wheel drive, with a fixed 31:69 torque split front-to-rear in the CLS450 and CLS350. A constantly variable 4Matic+ set-up in the AMG can send up to 100 percent of torque to the rear axle.

Self-levelling air suspension is standard in all Australian-delivered CLS models, though only the CLS53’s ride is controlled by AMG-specific calibrations across three modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The CLS450 and CLS350 will run a less performance-focused version.

AMG has made further changes under the skin of the CLS53 including special steering knuckles and tougher joints optimised for rigidity, and a more aggressive wheel alignment with extra negative camber on both axles for increased lateral grip when cornering.

All models in Australia will run 20-inch wheels, wear an AMG Line styling kit and use Merc’s widescreen cockpit display as standard. The CLS450 adds power ‘soft close’ doors and a sports exhaust to the equipment list.

The CLS53 gets a unique AMG wheel design and will be visually distinctive via a twin-blade radiator grille that is specific to the ‘53’ range that will also include E53 Coupe and E53 Cabrio models. Wireless smartphone charging, and seats with active bolsters that flex during cornering, are standard. AMG has also chosen the CLS53 to introduce a new “Performance” steering wheel already used on the C43 that will also roll out to all future vehicles.

A three-seat rear bench in the E-Class-based third-gen CLS means it is now a five-seater for the first time, rather than limiting the space to four. Boot space is 520 litres, which can be expanded by folding the 40/20/40 split seat-back.

On top of the sophisticated comfort, convenience and safety features expected of a high-ranking Mercedes-Benz model, the CLS features a few unusual tricks.

For example, cars fitted with the more premium Burmester stereo system gain speakers fitted inside the roof liner for a ‘3D’ surround sound experience that can be directed at specific seats.

A GPS-sensitive climate-control system called Thermotronic uses map data to recognise tunnel entrances, and can automatically switch the air-conditioner to recirculation mode to maintain air quality inside the cabin.

Lighting has become a signature of the CLS model; Merc introduced its “Multibeam” headlight technology on the 2014 model with 24 LED chips. The new CLS uses 84 chips to produce what Mercedes says is the “maximum light intensity permitted by law”. Four control units monitor the road ahead 100 times a second and switch off portions of the light beam to avoid blinding other drivers.

Customers have a choice of three car keys for their CLS, plus the option of using a smartphone as a key through the car’s connectivity app and Bluetooth-like technology.

The CLS gets model-specific seats that are heated, ventilated and have massage functionality, rather than lifting an existing design from an E- or S-Class. Mercedes-Benz has built its Energizing wellness program into the CLS450 and CLS53, which links comfort functions such as music, massage, climate control fragrance, ambient light colour (including around the afterburner-style air vents) and cabin temperature to influence the mood of occupants.

A special Edition 1 launch package will be available for the first year of sale. Copper is the theme, with numerous interior highlights including contrasting copper stitching on black leather upholstery across the seats, console, dashboard and door panels, and copper piping on the floor mats. Edition 1 badging and an exclusive IWC analogue clock round out the cabin changes. Outside, a unique diamond grille with matte chrome pins and chrome inserts with a copper-coloured shimmer will set it apart.

You can order a CLS450 or a CLS53 now. An entry-level model with a diesel powertrain is expected to flesh out the Australian line-up at a later date.