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Mercedes-Benz CLS53 AMG 4Matic Singapore Review 2022

The Mercedes-Benz CLS53 AMG 4Matic is a step up from the Mercedes-Benz CLS 450, and is a 4 door luxury coupe that comes with a mild hybrid drivetrain with a 16kw electric motor paired with a 3.0L in-line 6 turbocharged engine, along with eq boost, AMG steering wheel with drive mode selector, and 4Matic all wheel drive system. The car produces 520Nm of torque and does 0 - 100km/h in 4.5 seconds.

For some time now, I have been developing the impression that Mercedes-Benz cars were in a phase where the product brought more form than function to the table. A brand that is somewhat unrivalled in the mass market class that it brings to the consumer - beautiful with a sense of occasion, but not really the sharpest tool in the shed. That was the impression that I held, when I woke up the morning of my test drive of the CLS53 AMG.

At first glance, the CLS53 leaves a subtle first impression, and other than some AMG bits and massive 20 inch wheels, the car seems quite tame and stately and barely gives off the car's AMG underpinnings. The CLS has always been a beautiful car known for its long swooping lines that gave the car a missile-like demeanour, and the latest CLS53 keeps to that tradition. From the direct front and rear of the car, it is hard to distinguish it from a CLA, but step to the side and you immediately take in the length of the car, along with a silhouette that is in a class of its own, making it one of the most beautiful 4-door coupes currently available in the market.

Inside the car, you are greeted by a typically operatic Mercedes-Benz interior, and aside from the additional drive mode and suspension controls found on the steering wheel, the car feels properly posh and luxurious - hinting at car that is more predisposed to comfort and luxury as opposed to being an AMG car (I mean - the car doesn't even have a gear selector lever). Front and centre, a 12.3" MBUX touchscreen infotainment unit dominates the dashboard alongside the digital driver's display with those turbine shaped air-conditioning vents. Along the door, you have your signature Burmester Surround Sound "cheese grater" speakers and the seat adjustment controls on the door, which are features that we have come to be familiar with from other Mercedes models, but yet are still relatively impressed with. Though not the most well built in terms of outright build quality, material use is quite exquisite, and there is definitely a greater sense of occasion and opulence that isn't quite found in Mercedes' other German rivals.

Armed with a 3.0L V6 producing 429bhp with mild hybridisation, the CLS53 AMG delivers 520Nm of torque and although Mercedes says that the car will cover the 0-100km/h in a listed 4.5 seconds, it actually feels a little bit quicker than that, thanks to a supremely impressive 9G-Tronic AMG Speedshift torque converter which always seems to be in the right gear. However, despite its performance credentials, the CLS53 isn't special because of it. Rather, the car is special in the way it makes its power, performance, and consequently its fun factor so accessible to the average person, along with the way that it so perfectly blends the performance that it holds under its skin with the luxury and comfort that is befitting of a Mercedes-Benz car.

Aside from the obvious power that the car possesses, the CLS53 AMG is also delightfully vocal, and is hands down the easiest car to gurgle, pop, and bang I have ever driven. Under moderate acceleration in Comfort mode, the CLS53 gives off a mild throaty growl that provides great satisfaction to the driver. In Sport+ mode however, the CLS53 becomes a different animal, and sounds absolutely stunning past 5,000rpm - when you finally do decide to release the accelerator, the car that proceeds to unleash the most epic series of pops, bangs, and gurgles that will give a Golden Village popcorn machine a run for its money. The satisfaction derived from this series of sounds is hard to explain, but it really does light up your eyes and bring out that inner 12 year old in you. During some of my more spirited drives, I was revving up behind unsuspecting road-hogging cars in the outer lane, scaring them with the pops and bangs, and watching their confused faces as they evaluated whether or not those sounds came from the the CLS - a rather satisfying thing to watch as the CLS does possess some sleeper car vibes.

The amazing part about all this is that the CLS53's beautiful soundtrack does not require a lot of skill to extract and exploit, and is actually very easy to do even in Automatic (I actually found it easier to extract the best noises with Auto than with Manual shifting). In fact, when acceleration is primed properly, I can even extract the pop, bangs, and gurgles with speeds as low as 75-90km/h - which is absolutely perfect for Singapore, because other performance cars that require higher speeds to sound great typically don't have the runway they require to do so.

When you're done having fun however, the CLS53 can be switched back to Comfort and the adaptive air suspension setup reveals the CLS' inner family car, gliding and wafting over the imperfections on the roads with respectable ease. Even the massive 20" wheels don't seem comfortable enough, though a downsize might aid the comfort equation further at the expense of beauty. Sizeable footwells also make legroom at the rear very comfortable for a 4 door coupe, and with the CLS now a 5 seater instead of its predecessor's strict 4 seater format, there is now more room in the rear and more flexibility for the car to be used as a family car.

Overall, the CLS53 AMG impresses greatly in its versatility of use. It is elegant and classy when you need it to be, yet so easily transitions to being as sporty and vocal as the next performance vehicle. Even the comfort level and space provisions in the car are superb, and it is entirely possible to employ the CLS as a family car. There really isn't much that the CLS53 isn't able to do, and I absolutely love how you don't have to have any real expertise to coerce the best sounds out of the car. Although we have driven more powerful cars this year, I'm gonna go ahead and say that the CLS53 AMG has been one of the most fun and satisfying to drive - and more importantly, it has made me fall in love with the Mercedes-Benz brand all over again.


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