2020 Mercedes-benz Mercedes-amg CLS Expert Review


2020 Mercedes-benz Mercedes-amg CLS Expert Review

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 is the higher-performance variant of the CLS 450 (reviewed separately). As with prior CLS models, Mercedes refers to this 3rd-gen version that debuted just last year as a “coupe.” While this sleek and sporty vehicle has a tapered, coupe-like roof, in reality it has four doors and seating for five, like a sedan.

As with other vehicles by Mercedes’ AMG performance division, the CLS 53’s power and performance have been taken up a notch compared to the CLS 450. At over $81,000, it’s also about $11,000 more than a base CLS 450. As with that model, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 uses a sophisticated powertrain that pairs a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine with an electric motor that further boosts power.

Combined with its standard all-wheel-drive system, the AMG CLS 53 can rip from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and tear around corners with far more deftness than expected in such a large and stylish vehicle. As its coupe name suggests, the CLS 53 tips its priorities to design and performance vs. interior space and all-out comfort.

In terms of practicality, the Audi S7 and Porsche Panamera have the edge with their liftback designs. But those models and new entrants like the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe still build on a design formula that Mercedes created over 15 years earlier with the very first CLS.

Driving the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS

With its robust chassis, innovative powerplant, and performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 is a pleasure to drive if you prefer extra bite in your stylish sedan. Mercedes’ sophisticated pairing of a turbocharged inline-6 with an integrated electric motor has all but eliminated dreaded turbo lag.

With a 0-to-60-mph time of just 4.4 seconds, the new Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 launches smoothly and with just as much authority as its V8-powered predecessors. We also give kudos to the 9-speed AMG Speedshift TCT (Torque Converter Transmission), which operates both smoothly and quickly and never seems off-guard amid gear changes.

Mercedes allows — and encourages — the driver to tailor the vehicle’s behavior via the AMG Dynamic Select, a 5-mode toggle that switches among modes such as Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. For 2020, the Eco mode has been replaced with Slippery. Each setting alters engine response, the speed and harshness of gear changes, suspension dampening, steering weight and exhaust note. Speaking of, also new for 2020 is the Emotion Start — hold the left steering-wheel paddle while starting the car, and you get a “sporty engine start.”

Despite aggressive low-profile tires, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 has a compliant but firm ride, even in Comfort mode. The standard air suspension, known as AMG Ride Control+, boasts fully supporting multi-chamber air springs at all four corners and continuously adjustable damping from ADS+ (Adaptive Damping System). The steering is perfectly weighted, and the multi-piston brakes (acting on cross-drilled and ventilated rotors) deliver confident stopping power.
Driving the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS

While other automakers have used electric motors to assist their combustion engines, Mercedes-AMG has made the mechanical marriage of these two technologies nearly transparent. Credit a 48-volt starter/alternator that delivers an additional 184 lb-ft of torque as-needed. The result is quicker acceleration, a smoother power curve, more passing power and better fuel economy — the driver feels nothing but abundant power when the accelerator is pressed.

Most all-wheel-drive systems are engineered to send power to the rear wheels only if slippage is detected, which can result in a nose-heavy feel. The Mercedes-AMG systems, known as AMG Performance 4Matic+, use sensors and a computer to modulate torque split from 100-percent rear, to a 50/50 split. This grants the gratifying feel of a rear-drive sports car.

2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS Interior

With this 3rd-generation CLS, Mercedes made the interior more accommodating by switching from a 4-passenger setup with just a pair of rear seats to a traditional 5-passenger arrangement with a rear bench. Still, rear-passenger space is merely okay. Up front is another story. There, driver and passenger are cradled in supportive front seats that can be further optioned with massaging function (known as “Active multicontour.”)

The dash is a trifecta of technology, functionality and classy design. Twin 12.3-inch digital screens, one that acts as the instrument cluster and the other in the center for infotainment, make Mercedes’ setup one of the best-looking in the industry. The thick steering wheel is embedded with inputs, including two small touch pads that take practice and finesse to use. Other controls, such as for climate and audio functions, are easier to see and use in the center of the dash.

At only 11.9 cubic feet, cargo space in the trunk is smaller than that of the average midsize sedan — not to mention the compact Mercedes C-Class sedan. The rear seats do offer a measure of utility for carrying longer items by folding in a 40/20/40-split.

Favorite Features

One of the CLS’ biggest attractors is its design. It helped usher in the sedan-as-coupe trend in the early 2000s, and the latest model is its best-looking yet. Most distinguishing is its tapered roof that flows into a tucked tail — the element that christens this a 4-door a “coupe.”

Unlike the Audi S7 and Porsche Panamera, the CLS has a traditional trunk vs. a more versatile, cargo-swallowing hatch with a lifting rear door. The AMG CLS separates itself from its standard sibling with a slightly lower height, increased body length (but the same wheelbase), quad exhaust outlets and trunk lip. New for 2020, the hood has a more muscular look thanks to power domes.
2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS Standard Features

Given the AMG CLS 53’s $80,000-plus starting price, it should be a given that this Mercedes comes pretty well equipped. In addition to the upgraded powertrain and performance hardware, standard features include keyless entry and hands-free power trunk, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, universal garage remote and air suspension.

The infotainment system includes twin 12.3-inch digital screens, an excellent Burmester audio system, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, three USB audio ports, SD card reader, and Sirius XM and HD Radio.

Standard safety systems include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and an aid that assists with parallel parking.

2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS Interior

As with other Mercedes-Benz cars, there are ample ways to upgrade and individualize the 2020 CLS 53. If you want genuine leather instead of the MB-Tex Leatherette, plush Nappa is available, as are ventilated and massaging front seats, the lovely-smelling Air Balance fragrance system, heated rear seats and power rear-window shade, power-assisted soft-close doors, head-up display, in-car Wi-Fi, and AMG performance exhaust.

One option we recommend is the Driver Assistance Package that bundles active safety and driver-assist systems like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, evasive-steering assist, and more.

2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS Engine

The 2020 AMG CLS 53, which debuted just last year, uses an engine boasting impressive technology. The turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, which is smoother and less complex than a V6, features EQ Boost, a mild-hybrid system that places a small electric motor between the engine and transmission.

The engine is rated at 429 horsepower, but that figure doesn’t include the 21 additional horsepower (and 184 lb-ft of torque) that “boost” the engine off the line and during passing. That standard transmission is a refined 9-speed automatic, which is mated to 4Matic, the permanent all-wheel-drive system. 

Premium fuel is required.

3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 + electric motor
429 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm
384 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg

2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS Exterior

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 Coupe has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $81,200, plus a $995 destination charge. That’s roughly $11,000 more than a base CLS 450. Loaded with options, the CLS can reach the $100,000 mark.

This AMG CLS is hardly cheap, but it still starts slightly lower than an Audi S7 and the new BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, and is several thousand below even the starting point of a new Porsche Panamera, which begins over $87,000. The all-electric Tesla Model S, meanwhile, starts over $80,000.

Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53’s resale value is expected to be only about fair, and to trail that of the Porsche Panamera.
Which 2020 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG CLS Model is Right for Me?

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 Coupe

Turbocharged 6-cylinder + electric motor
Performance-oriented all-wheel drive
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Burmester audio system

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So happy to be able to change something and make it cooler than the original

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