Novel tech for Merc’s 'Jag Hunter' III

It’s been a busy week for Mercedes-AMG in South Africa with the triple-launch of the all new CLS, the arrival if its new 53 hybrids, which we will bring you a full insight on shortly — a must-read, if you enjoy the latest in car tech — and some cool upgrades for the C63. For now, let's focus on the all-new Mercedes-AMG CLS 53.

Launched in tandem with its E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet siblings we will also cover individually anon, the Merc suits tried to convince us that the original CLS invented a new niche fifteen years ago. It certainly did so in a Teutonic sense, but whether it was a new niche altogether, is a debatable point. Some of us remember how unashamedly old Schrempp billed that all-new concept 'the Jaguar Hunter’ back then. I’ll just leave that one there, but CLS certainly has captured the market in that niche.

Anyway, the newcomer is another splendid development on a wonderful theme — new CLS adopts the latest angular take on the Merc face to tell us what to expect of its future saloons and coupes and I think its rear end styling is the best so far, by far. Those aspects punctuate that classic über-cool “Jaguar Hunter’ profile, even if it nicks a bit of headroom. All very good. 

But the real advances come under the bonnet of the AMG 53 4matic version we drove yesterday and while we'll get into this powertrain in greater detail anon, I think that this is the right next step into a better, greener future…

CLS 53 is powered by Merc’s all-new 320kW 520Nm 3-litre straight six with double forced induction via the combination of a traditional exhaust-driven turbocharger and an electrically driven auxiliary compressor, all working in tandem with a 48-volt EQ Boost collar hybrid starter generator. That turns a quick (and slick) shifting AMG Speedshift TCT 9-speed automatic and 4matic AWD to rush CLS 53 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and on to 270km/h in Driver’s Package spec.

All of this is most intriguing new tech, not least of all the return to a straight-six some twenty years after Benz fled to a bent configuration, but how the car uses its EQ Boost hybrid is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. The collar hybrid temporarily delivers a 16kW 250Nm bonus from idle until the other bits are all wound up for a truly lag free solution. If you want to learn more about this quite special power unit, come back on Friday, when I take a technically in-depth look into it. 

For the rest, the new CLS 53 offers the typically fine AMG Performance fare we are becoming used to in a lavishly rendered fascia of good fit and finish that achieves a fine blend between classic looks and brilliant adaptive digital instruments and that first-rate ‘Comand Online’ infotainment system, complete with a now even better market-leading multifunction steering wheel. 

All that becomes even more appealing after dark, thanks to Merc’s latest lovely ambient lighting features that now even show how hot the air is coming in through those splendid rifled vents! Wonderful stuff.

Our launch activities included a few performance and handling modules at Kyalami before hot laps, all of which CLS 53 handled with the expected aplomb — especially considering this is pretty much a full sized limo, but what really impressed was how smooth it felt when not being pushed. Alter egos, but both brilliant.

CLS 53 will also initially come in an exclusive Edition 1 pack and while I’d deselect the garish side decals, I loved the Copper Art external and interior trim with fine copper trim and black Nappa finishes. CLS will also be available with Merc’s all-new 3-litre turbodiesel version of the modular new straight six in CLS 400d get-up and comes with the full Merc 2-year unlimited mileage warranty and 5-year 100 000km stepped maintenance plan. 

Mercedes CLS Pricing
400d 4Matic           R1.20M
400d 4Matic AMG Line R1.23M
400d 4Matic Edition 1 R1.43M
AMG 53 4Matic R1.49M
AMG 53 4Matic Edition 1 R1.70M