With the CLE's predecessors casting a mighty long shadow, AMG fires off a six-cylinder flare
By PH Staff / Wednesday, 6 December 2023 / Loading comments
There’s a fair chance you might recall the CLE – we talked about it back in the summer, and for good reason. Not only does it replace both the C-Class and E-Class coupe, it also looks pretty good doing it. Which is half the battle. The other half, needless to say, is how well it goes – and in that respect, the jury remained out because the lineup at launch mainly comprised the cooking versions. Naturally, we were waiting to see what Mercedes-AMG might do.
Now we know. Or at least, we know what it’s doing for starters. We’re all familiar by now with what ’53’ means, and while the firm’s middleweight contenders haven’t been automatic home runs, the fact that the new model earns a 3.0-litre straight-six (and is not hybridised four-pot) is probably reason enough to start a small Mexican wave around your house or office or workshop. True, it’s technically a mild-hybrid – but only in the sense that it gets an ‘integrated starter generator’ with 23hp. Otherwise, it’s because the car burns petrol that it unlocks 449hp. Huzzah.
To be fair to it, the ISG is said to be capable of chucking 151lb ft of torque into the mix for seamless getaways – but rest assured, the star of the show is the heavily updated M 256M unit. Among other detailed changes, Mercedes-AMG has installed a beefier exhaust gas turbocharger alongside a new electric compressor, the latter inevitably aiding lowdown response and helping to contribute to the 442lb ft of ‘overboost’ twist the CLE 53 is said to manage for 12 uninterrupted seconds. We’ve seen that tech before, of course, but the manufacturer reckons ‘it can now be operated almost continuously over a longer period of time’, which means the conventional turbocharger could be made larger. Win-win.
Well, the performance figures suggest it’s a win, at any rate. The CLE 53 covers off 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds (the last generation, V8-powered C 63 originally needed 4.1 seconds) and is tied to 155mph unless you unlock 168mph via the optional AMG Driver’s Pack. Obviously, some of its punchiness can be attributed to nine-speed Speedshift TCT gearbox and the standard, fully-variable all-wheel-drive system, the latter including the now obligatory, front-axle-decoupling drift mode said to work ‘across the entire speed range’.
The experience-enhancing gizmos do not stop there. Rear-axle steering and twin-valve adaptive dampers are also among the standard kit, and AMG is promising even cleverer ‘control strategies’ from its ESP system, which will attempt to do a better job of anticipating ‘the desired vehicle behaviour’. So expect it to seem like a rear-drive car more often than not. Especially if you’re inclined to floor it going around a roundabout.
Or you could not drive it and just ogle the CLE 53 from a distance. Thanks in part to tracks that have gone out 58mm at the front and 75mm at the back (taking the arches with them), the newcomer absolutely looks the part – and we’re not just saying that because it’s clearly redolent of the C63 coupe, a model on speaking terms with muscle-car perfection. The new front bumper and AMG grille play their part, too, as do the optional 20-inch wheels and dinky rear spoiler. Hard not to imagine where its maker might go with a CLE 63 as a result – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Mercedes-AMG has already taken a laudable first step in filling some very big shoes.
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