The expression ‘polar opposites’ referring to the North and South Poles at either end of the globe signifies two things that are completely different to each other, yet there is huge commonality in that expression since both poles share icy landscapes and have a significant influence on world weather.
If one were to take a cute and cuddly little kitten at one end of the scale and raging, roaring lion at the other, polar opposites they may be with the commonality both are feline and have claws – and so it is with the Mercedes-Benz C53 AMG 4Matic.
In common is the fact it is a four-door coupé-styled executive saloon offering bundles of luxury fittings and high-tech operating systems. At one end of that scale, it is as benign as that cute little kitty while, at the other, it is a raging beast surging through the countryside.
Most significant in the new CLS 53 is the introduction – well re-introduction really – of the straight six engine configuration. Mercedes-Benz stopped using this setup in 1996 in favour of the smaller ‘V’ shape engine but has gone backwards in order to go forwards.
The straight six layout suits the inclusion an EQ Boost starter generator that temporarily delivers additional power and torque as well as driving the 48-volt on-board electrical system.
While some might cry foul because the specific rasp of an angry ‘V’ is missing, they would do well to note in a drag race the new car is quicker (and the engine note is not half bad either).
The six-cylinder in-line engine produces an output of 320 kW and develops a peak torque of 520 Nm. Its EQ Boost starter generator temporarily delivers an additional output of 16 kW as well as 250 Nm of torque and this is why it is quicker.
The EQ Boost starter generator combines a starter and an alternator in one powerful electric motor that sits between the engine and the transmission. With its assistance, the electric auxiliary compressor can build up high boost pressure immediately. This means the torque available for acceleration increases more rapidly, until the large exhaust-driven turbo-charger kicks in.
The 3,0-litre engine thus reacts extremely promptly and provides highly dynamic response without turbo lag.
The EQ Boost starter generator and the intelligent forced induction with an electrical auxiliary compressor and exhaust-driven turbo-charger all have the same goal: to boost the AMG performance and driving dynamics, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
This it does rather successfully and The CLS 53 4MATIC+ accelerates to 100 km/h in 4,5 seconds and with the Driver’s Package reaches a top speed of 270 km/h. My best cruising consumption (in cuddly kitty mode) came down to 7,1 l/100 km with the overall average inclusive of a couple of adrenalin-pumping quick runs returned 8,4 l/100 km.
For a five metre long car weighing in at 1 980 kg that is quite impressive.
The new engine is coupled with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G transmission, which has extremely short shift times, fast response to shift paddle commands, double-declutching function and multiple downshifts.
Whether automatic or initiated by the driver using the steering wheel shift paddles, upshifts or downshifts are implemented instantly. Especially in the ‘Sport+’ and in manual driving modes, the transmission is very responsive.
In fact, the gearbox reacted quickly enough in all modes to make the use of the paddles redundant. This is particularly noticeable in Sport+ mode where the slightest movement on the throttle initiates gear selection and usually faster than the average driver is likely to react.
However, there is a ‘M’ button that will turn the CLS53 into an exclusively manual car.
Also part of the standard specification is the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, where the fully variable torque split between the front and rear axles ensures optimum traction and a high directional stability and safety in all conditions.
The switch from rear wheel to all-wheel drive and back occurs continuously, because the intelligent control is incorporated into the overall vehicle systems’ architecture.
Put simply, the all-wheel drive makes the journey in any mode at most speeds safer by ensuring maximum traction in all conditions. At high speed, even though the car never actually feels as big as it really is, there is some push from the front into tight corners but, this is easily managed on the throttle – or, if going a bit too far by the excellent traction control system.
The interior of the new AMG models has model-specific appointments, luxurious materials and significantly expanded options. The optional Widescreen Cockpit has a large display with virtual gauges to serve as the instrument cluster in the driver’s direct line of vision, as well as a central display above the centre console.
The fully digital cockpit allows the driver to choose the look from the three different display styles and also configure the information and relevant views at will.
The car naturally comes with the full gamut of active and passive systems from anti-lock braking through traction control, lane-keeping assist and, if specified, autonomous braking while cruise control is active.
Like most Mercedes-Benz models the options pack is quite extensive allowing owners to personalise the car to suit their own needs.
It is said opposites attract and, in the case of the CLS53, the fact it goes from being like the mild-mannered Clark Kent to Superman (without the need for tights or a telephone booth in which to change) provide a strong binding factor of desirability.