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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Mercedes-Benz CLE leaves AMG finishing school as new AMG CLE 53

First ever performance CLE again makes use of an electrified straight-six engine, albeit with power than in the E53 it replaces.

Unveiled in June this year as the replacement for the coupe and cabriolet versions of the C-and-E-Class, Mercedes-Benz has offloaded the CLE to its AMG division with the result being the new AMG CLE 53.

Easy to spot changes outside

The replacement for the erstwhile E53, the coupe-only for CLE 53 is again powered by a mild-hybrid turbocharged straight-six engine, and like its predecessor, becomes the three-pointed star’s entry-level performance coupe with no plans seemingly in place to introduce a 63 S derivative at some point.

NOW READ: Two-doors here to stay as Mercedes-Benz debuts new CLE

Externally, the 53’s visual differences from the AMG Line equipped CLE are easy to spot as, apart from the Panamericana grille, the lower apron has been replaced by the AMG A-Wing, the side air vents enlarged and the wheel arches flared to accommodate the standard 19-inch or optional 20-inch alloy wheels.

Sporting a wider track by 58 mm at the front and 75 mm at the rear, Benz has made the Digital Light LED standard, while also revising the rear facia to include new quad exhaust outlets, an AMG bootlid spoiler and a darkened red LED strip between the light clusters.

Mercedes-AMG reveals first time new AMG CLE 53
Along with the revised rear facia, Benz has also increased the front and rear tracks while enlarging the wheel arches to accommodate the 19 or optional 20-inch alloy wheels. Image: Mercedes-AMG

As ever, buyers have access to either the AMG Night or AMG Carbon packages, as well as the first time AMG Optic that increases the size of the diffuser, aerodynamics and spoiler at an additional cost.

Not same-same underneath

Underneath, the CLE 53’s dynamic alterations are just as extensive. Besides the AMG optimised Dynamic Select system with five modes; Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, the steel sprung AMG Ride Control adaptive dampers have been included incorporating three modes; Comfort, Sport and Sport+.

Also thrown-in is the AMG rear-axle steering system, the retuned AMG electric power steering and the uprated AMG brakes consisting of a perforated four-piston caliper setup at the front and single at the rear with respective disc sizes of 370 mm and 360 mm.


Inside, the CLE 53 carries over the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and centre console-mounted 11.9-inch MBUX infotainment system from the normal CLE, but with AMG specific readouts and graphics integrated into both.

Mercedes-AMG reveals first time new AMG CLE 53
Carbon inserts adorn the interior resplendent with the same infotainment system and instrument cluster as the standard CLE. Image: Mercedes-AMG

Elsewhere, the seats have been replaced by the AMG sport or optional AMG Performance chairs trimmed in either Artico man-made leather or Nappa leather with red stitching, and the steering wheel replaced by the AMG Performance item.

Red seatbelts, the AMG crest embroidered onto the headrests of the front chairs and carbon fibre inserts completes the interior’s transformation.

Mercedes-AMG reveals first time new AMG CLE 53
Seats are available as either the standard sport chairs, or the optional AMG Performance finished in either Artico man-made leathers or Nappa leather. Image: Mercedes-AMG

Boosted and electrified

Continuing the linage set-out by the previous generation CLS, the CLE 53 derives motivation from a hybridised 3.0-litre straight-six which, although carried over from the E53, has been updated with new piston rings, redesigned inlet and outlet channels, new injectors, an exhaust gas driven turbocharger and a new compressor to reduce lag.

The latter’s boost increased from 0.9 to 1.5 bar means the now renamed M 256M unit develops 330kW/560Nm, with the 48-volt EQ Boost system adding an additional 17kW/205Nm for short spells.

Excluding the electrical hardware, a traditional overboost function sees torque increase to 600 Nm, but only for 12 seconds with no uptake in power being obtained.

Paired to the nine-speed TCT transmission, with the AMG 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system sending the amount of twist to all four corners, the CLE 53 will get from 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and hit a limited top speed of 250 km/h or 270 km/h when fitted with the optional AMG Driver’s Package.

Not yet for us

Confirmed to enter production next year with sales starting soon after, the CLE 53 remains an unknown entity for South Africa, especially as the standard model hasn’t been approved for the local market ever since its global unveiling.

Should approval be given though, expect a mid or late 2024 debut with final price and specification to be announced then.

NOW READ: Mercedes-AMG E53 a pleasant shock… with the roof down

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