2018 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic+ first drive: AMG-lite a talented all-rounder

Now in its third incarnation, Mercedes-Benz’s CLS mixes saloon car sensibilities with coupe-like styling to compete against rivals like the Audi’s A5 Sportback. There are some compromises because of its sweeping style, but if they’re really an issue the Mercedes-Benz salesperson should point you in the direction of an E-Class.

With this all-new CLS the company is introducing its latest range of engines. The petrol choices now featuring mild electrification, dubbed EQ Boost, to improve both performance and economy. That’s on all the in-line six-cylinder units, including that on the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic+ range-topper. It’s the fastest of the new line-up, until the inevitable Mercedes-AMG CLS 63 adds some lunacy to the sharply-styled CLS range.

2018 Mercedes CLS
2018 Mercedes CLS

First impressions

Time was 429bhp and a 0-62mph of 4.5 seconds would have been more than enough for the CLS 53 to take top-dog status in the range, but it’ll be the CLS 63’s understudy when that car is revealed later this year. Like the rest of the CLS line-up at launch the CLS 53 is all-new, four-wheel drive and, with the petrol engines at least, electrically assisted. The 48V EQ Boost system is essentially a starter-generator, though the electric motor is big enough to add assisting power, if not actually drive the CLS on electricity alone. Yes, we really have entered the era of electrified AMGs.

As with its predecessors the CLS borrows heavily from the E-Class range. It uses most of its saloon relation’s platform, though the ...