Luxury Cars

The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLE 53 2024 focuses on space and inconspicuousness

I walk into the understated Caja Granada cultural center in Granada, Spain, and the company’s PR people take me over to take a look at the 2024 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLE 53. I really don’t like the AMG C-Class or the AMG E-Class coupes, the two discontinued models this one is supposed to replace. They drive well and good, but neither of them impress me visually. To be honest, I don’t have high expectations for whatever this mishmash might be.

Then I see it. Located in a courtyard surrounded by spiral-shaped walkways, the mid-sized coupe is a real eye-catcher. What strikes me first is its stealth. Equipped with one of AMG’s optional night packages, this thing is a lesson in stealth operations with its matte black paint, black wheels and black AMG-specific grille. I imagine myself next to it in black leather and sky-high heels, playing as the ultimate German villain.

Then it depends on the width. Under the fenders is a set of Michelin Pilot S5 summer tires wrapped on optional black 20-inch wheels. The sizes are staggered and measure 265/35 at the front and a hefty 295/30 at the back. This moves the front fenders outward by 2.3 inches compared to the non-AMG CLE, and the rear fenders increase by 3.0 inches. She is a curvy girl.

A sculpted and ventilated hood fits into the AMG grille, highlighted by a touch of chrome. Flanked by slim LED headlights, the front apron appears more menacing than in the versions of the previous C- and E-Class coupes. Mercedes hasn’t revealed how long the AMG CLE 53 is, but the standard CLE measures 112.8 inches between tires, and I don’t expect this car to measure any different. Regardless, it allows for a long dash-to-axle ratio, placing the driver behind the center of the vehicle. The back provides the best view of the vehicle’s hips, which makes the greenhouse seem really cramped. The optional AMG Performance Studio package adds a rear diffuser and a more pronounced rear spoiler.

According to Mercedes, the AMG CLE Coupe is designed to behave like an AMG C-Class while maintaining the space of an AMG E-Class. While I can’t sit in the thing, the optional AMG performance front seats seem comfortable, albeit heavily bolstered. Because of the coupe’s sloping roofline, the two rear seats are best suited for smaller passengers. However, these rear seats can be folded down in a 40/20/40 configuration to increase cargo space in the trunk. However, the horizontal brace behind the rear seats could make easy packing difficult.

I’m a fan of black interiors with red accents and this preview model delivers exactly that. It features red seat belts and red contrast stitching and trim, as well as scattered AMG emblems. The dashboard features carbon fiber trim, and the standard flat-bottom steering wheel is packed with controls for everything from adaptive cruise control to the radio to driving dynamics.

However, the overall interior design is similar to that of the standard CLE, and that’s not a bad thing. The cool-looking turbine vents are present, but the focal point is the portrait-oriented 11.9-inch infotainment screen. Tilted towards the driver with just one touch, it features the latest version of the MBUX infotainment system with excellent navigation technology and a powerful voice assistant. The instrument cluster also comes into the tech game: It measures 12.3 inches and is configured in Classic, Sport or AMG-specific Supersport versions. My only gripe here is that it looks like it just fell behind the wheel. I would like to integrate something more into the dashboard.

As for driving like an AMG C-Class, that point is still up for debate until we drive the AMG CLE 53. This new model certainly has more power than the outgoing AMG C 43, but its turbocharged mild-hybrid 3.0-liter inline-six engine can’t hold a candle to the power and fury of the V-8 in the previous AMG C 63.

Still, there’s enough for 443 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, which are sent to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. This engine receives a new exhaust turbocharger, which is coupled with a new electric auxiliary compressor and delivers a boost pressure of up to 22 psi. This increases torque to 443 lb-ft for up to 12 seconds. This should make merging and passing highways fairly easy.

But an AMG car has to be fun, right? Driving impressions will have to wait until my villain cosplay adventure dreams come true, but I can make a few educated guesses. The all-wheel drive is rear-facing and, according to Mercedes, can switch seamlessly between the two axles. The standard rear-wheel steering is intended to provide a comfortable driving experience in the serpentines and at the same time provide more stability when driving at high speeds. If you believe Mercedes, straight-line speed is fast: 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds.

If you’ve never driven a Benz before, let alone an AMG, the company allows drivers to enter their driving preferences six times through Sunday. There are Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual driving modes, but with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package buyers can go one step further and switch to Race mode. In these modes, the driver can adjust stability control and all-wheel drive – the Race program even has a drift setting – and the steel-sprung suspension has three different levels of damper adjustment.

Previous experiences with AMG gave me high expectations of the CLE 53. In other models, the power delivery is smooth, the shifts are sharp and the turn-in is crisp. I don’t see any reason this car should be any different, but I’ll have to spend some time behind the wheel to be sure.

Pricing for the 2024 Mercedes-AMG CLE 53 has not been announced yet, but the current AMG C 43 starts at around $63,000, while the AMG E 53 starts at around $85,000. We expect prices to start at around $80,000. Look for it in the middle of next year and let’s hope it drives as good as it looks.

Mercedes-Benz covered Motor Authority’s travel and accommodation expenses to bring you these first-hand impressions.

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