2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 First Drive: More Modern, Less Muscle

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 marks a major departure from the AMG-badged CLS of yore, trading hair-raising V8 engines for a more sensible turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Equipped with Mercedes’s EQ Boost “mild” gasoline-electric hybrid technology, the 429-horsepower inline-six is accompanied by a 21-horsepower electric motor housed between the engine and transmission.

Along with starter and generator responsibilities, the motor also provides occasional spurts of accelerative assistance, and its 184 pound-feet of electric twist works with an electric supercharger to all-but eliminate any noticeable lag from the engine’s turbocharger.

The resulting power pushes the CLS 53 off the line with the immediacy of a cork exploding from a freshly opened bottle of champagne. Sixty miles per hour arrives in a claimed 4.4 seconds, or 0.7 second ahead of the 362 horsepower CLS 450 (the delta falls to 0.4 seconds compared to the all-wheel-drive CLS 450 4Matic).

2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53: First Drive

Still, the $79,900 CLS 53 can’t hold a candle to the old CLS 63 S, which did the deed in 3.5 seconds. To get that kind of grunt from a mid-size Mercedes sedan (err… four-door coupe), you’ll need to spend at least $136,500 on the CLS 63's spiritual successor, the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 4-Door Coupe and its 577-hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, which rocke...