2023 Mercedes-AMG CLS53 Review: The Family Man’s Sports Car

The 2023 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 combines breathtaking performance with luxurious comfort, delivering an exhilarating driving experience that is bound to leave enthusiasts in awe. As the latest iteration of the renowned CLS lineup, this exceptional four-door coupe showcases an impressive blend of elegance and power. Underneath its sleek and stylish exterior lies a potent mild-hybrid powertrain, seamlessly combining a robust six-cylinder engine with electric assistance to create a harmonious symphony of speed and efficiency. With its cutting-edge technology, opulent interior, and striking design, the 2023 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 establishes itself as a captivating masterpiece that truly embodies the spirit of modern luxury and performance.

The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 is a car for men (and women too) looking to spice up their driving experience without sacrificing practicality, it’s a sports car with four doors that can comfortably carry four adults in style. Last week we had the opportunity to review the 2023 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53, after spending a week with this sleek sedan coupe, we were enamored.

2023 Mercedes CLS Canadian Prices

In Canada, the CLS Coupe is available in two trims, the standard Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4MATIC Coupe or the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ Coupe. Our friends south of the border (the Americans) are not fortunate enough to be offered the AMG version, they only get the CLS 450.

The CLS 450 4MATIC Coupe has a starting price of $89,700 and the AMG CLS 53 has a starting price of $99,900 Canadian dollars. These prices are just the starting prices, there are quite a few options available on both versions of the CLS, with all the boxes ticked, you can bring the price of a CLS 53 AMG to $145,000. Our as-tested price was $118,750 with options and before PDI and taxes. Our review CLS 53 AMG included the AMG Driver’s Package, AMG Track Package, Edition 429, Intelligent Drive Package, Premium Package, AMG Carbon Fiber Trim, MANUFAKTUR Black DINAMICA Headliner, Head-Up Display, and Illuminated door sill panels. I’ll go over the content and prices of these packages in the Tech section later on in the post.

2023 Mercedes-Benz CLS Engine

The CLS 450 is powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 engine with mild hybrid drive, producing 362 horsepower between 5,500 – 6,100 rpm and 369 pound-feet of torque between 1,600 – 4,000 rpm. Power is sent to all-four wheels via a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes-Benz claims a 0 – 100 km/h sprint of 4.8 seconds and an impressive fuel consumption rating of 11.0/8.2 L/100 km in city/highway driving.

The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ is powered by an AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter inline-6 engine with mild hybrid drive and electric auxiliary compressor, producing 429 horsepower between 5,500 – 6,100 rpm and 384 pound-feet of torque between 1,800 – 5,800 rpm; these are the same power figures as the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe we reviewed last year. Power is sent to all-four wheels via an AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes claims a 0 – 100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds and fuel consumption of 11.6/8.8 L/100 km in city/highway driving, fuel ratings can be found here.

After a week of driving the CLS 53 AMG, we averaged 11.0 liters/100 kilometers in about 60% highway and 40% city driving. I find these numbers to be pretty impressive for a powerful and sporty car like this, I did enjoy some spirited driving during the week.

Driving the 2023 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+

The 3rd generation CLS AMG (codenamed C257) doesn’t come with a V8 engine option, but it’s still a properly fast car and it is a true AMG. The turbocharged inline-6 engine has a unique sound of its own, the exhaust sound can be turned to “powerful” even in comfort mode (the two settings on the exhaust are “Balanced” and “Powerful”.)

There are six driving modes on the CLS 53 AMG: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, and Individual. These driving modes are pretty self-explanatory and do change the dynamics of the car quite a lot. I mostly drove in the Comfort mode in the city and in traffic, and when it came time to have some fun, I skipped the Sport and used the Sport+ mode; I didn’t drive in the Race mode, well because, I wasn’t on a race track.

Driving in Comfort mode is a nice experience, the ride is comfortable and the exhaust sound is turned down to Balanced, there’s more than enough power to have fun even in this mode, but the throttle response is a bit slower and the transmission upshifts at lower rpms to save fuel. The Sport mode adds a bit more fun to the Comfort mode, it’s a good compromise between the Comfort and Sport+.

Sport+ is the mode to have some fun on the streets, I enjoyed this mode the most; the car felt even more powerful, more agile, and very sporty. The CLS is not a small car, it’s based on the E-Class, but in the Sport+ mode it feels like a proper sports car; after driving the CLS for a week, now I understand why cars like this exist. They’re practical enough for a family but have the souls of sports cars. Unfortunately, cars like this are a dying breed, and I’m not even sure if there will be a next generation of the CLS.

In the Sports+ mode, you’re treated to more of the sound of the I6 engine, combined with the “Powerful” mode of the exhaust. The transmission holds gears much longer and shifts are crisp and precise, you can also manually shift gears via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. In this mode the exhaust pops and crackles a lot, giving all occupants childlike smiles. I had an absolute blast every time I drove the CLS 53 AMG in the Sport+ mode.

The suspension on the CLS 53 AMG is sporty but also comfortable, even in the Sport+ mode, it is very smooth, this is a grand touring car after all. The steering has the perfect amount of weight and holding the AMG steering wheel in your hands feels very. It has a nice thickness to it, with Alcantara material from the 2 to 4 o’clock and 8 to 10 o’clock positions.

The turbocharged engine, the transmission, and the 4MATIC+ AWD system work in perfect harmony to give you a car that’s comfortable and civilized, yet it can be turned into a proper sports car.

Our review car was equipped with the Intelligent Drive Package, which included items like active distance control, active steering assist, etc. This system worked flawlessly, DISTRONIC was developed by Mercedes-Benz after all. This package also included Active Lane Change Assist, which works when DISTRONIC is engaged. In other vehicles with active distance control (also known as active cruise control and a few variations of that name), when you get close to the car in front of you, your car slows down to match that car’s speed, with the Mercedes system, press the turn signal indicator and the car will automatically change lanes (if safe to do so) and pass the slower car.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 Styling

I reviewed the 3rd generation CLS 53 a few years ago, the overall styling has stayed the same, with the exception of the front grill. The 2019 CLS had a horizontal chrome bar running across the grill, while the 2022/2023 CLS 53 features the PanAmericana grill with 15 vertical bars, this grill is found on new AMG vehicles and pays homage to the 1952 PanAmericana race won by a 300 SL. The pumper has slightly different air intakes on the sides.

The 3rd generation CLS is a beautiful-looking car, it really does look like a 4-door sports car. Although this generation has been around for a few years and our car had silver paint (which doesn’t scream “look at me”), it was still quite the head-turner over the week I drove around in it.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 Interior

The CLS 53’s interior sees slight changes over the last time I reviewed this car. It now features a new steering wheel design, with 5 spokes, two twin-spokes at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, and a large spoke at the 6 o’clock position. The steering wheel controls have also changed from scroll wheels/buttons to tiny touchpads for controlling the output on the digital gauge cluster and the infotainment screen. This new layout is found on most of the new Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The controller for the main infotainment screen on the center console has also been changed from a “mouse” and a large horizontally placed scroll wheel to a touchpad. The clock on the center stack, below the climate control buttons, is removed from the 2022/2023 model.

Using the various screens is still basically the same, it may feel overwhelming to new users at first, but after spending a few days with the car, it becomes second nature. And if you’re already familiar with MB infotainment systems, then it’s a breeze to master.

The infotainment screen, which displays maps from the navigation system, video from the cameras, radio/media, car settings, climate settings, and a few other items I may have missed, can be controlled via the touchpad on the center console, the buttons on the center console, and with the little touchpad on the right side of the steering wheel. Using the touchpad on the steering wheel is the best way to access different menus of the infotainment system, as you don’t have to take your hands off the steering wheel, making it much safer. The small touchpad on the left side of the steering wheel controls the functions on the “gauge cluster” side of the big screen. Here you can change the layouts of the gauges and what information you’d like to see on various parts of the gauge cluster, the gauges themselves have three main settings.

As you’d expect from a larger Mercedes-Benz vehicle, the CLS 53 AMG is really comfortable and the interior is quiet. There is barely any wind or tire noise at highway speeds, making long journeys very comfortable and enjoyable. I found there to be more than enough room for me in all of the seats, but because this is a “coupe” style sedan, the rear has a steeper slope than the E-Class, so rear passengers over 6 feet tall might feel a lack of headroom.

Optional Packages

The 2022/2023 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ Coupe is nicely equipped, but you’ll need to add some of the additional packages to get all the good stuff, not all packages can be combined and some packages require the addition of other packages, below is a list of the available packages and their content.

  • Edition 429 ($1,700)
    • AMG Night Package
    • Darkened AMG grill
    • 20” AMG 5-twin spoke wheels
    • Badging in black
  • AMG Night Package ($1,000)
  • AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package ($3,835)
  • MANUFAKTUR red seat belts ($390)
  • MANUFAKTUR Black DINAMICA roof liner ($2,080)
  • MANUFAKTUR Macchiato Beige DINAMICA roof liner ($2,080)
  • Premium Package ($4,500)
    • Climate Comfort front seats
    • Rapid heating feature for front seats
    • Heated front armrests
    • Heated rear seats
    • Burmester Surround Sound System
    • Foot-activated trunk release
    • 360-camera
  • Exclusive Package ($4,000)
    • Drive-Dynamic multicountour front seats
    • ENERGIZING Comfort
    • Air Balance system
    • Soft-close doors
    • MBUX Interior Assistant
  • Intelligent Drive Package ($3,000)
    • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC
    • Active Steering Assist
    • Evasive Steering Assist
    • Active Blind Spot Assist
    • Active Lane Keeping Assist
    • Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function
    • Congestion Emergency Braking
    • Active Emergency Stop Assist
    • PRE-SAFE Impulse Side
    • Route-based Speed Adaption
    • Enhanced Stop-and-Go
    • Active Stop-and-Go Assistant
  • AMG Driver’s Package ($3,500)
    • AMG Perfromance steering wheel in Nappa/DINAMICA
    • AMG Performance Exhaust System
    • 20” AMG 5-twin spoke wheels
    • AMG Track Pace for MBUX
    • Top speed increase
  • AMG Track Package ($1,000)
    • RACE and Drift modes
    • Red brake calipers
  • AMG Head-Up Display ($1,430)
  • THERMOTRONIC 3-zone automatic climate control ($990)
  • Power rear-window sunshade ($570)
  • Acoustic Comfort Package ($1,315)

Final Thoughts on the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ COUPE

I had a great time spending a week behind the wheel of the CLS 53, I think it’s an amazing car with great looks, excellent performance, and a lot of luxury. It is a perfect blend of sportiness and practicality, a perfect car for the man that’s looking to have fun in a sports car without buying an impractical sports car. The CLS will let you have fun and offers enough room for an additional three adults or children and there’s plenty of room for groceries, luggage, or other stuff grown adults need in their daily lives.

For more information on the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC+ Coupe, please visit the Mercedes-Benz Canada website.




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Meet Faisal, the co-founder of the uber-cool men's lifestyle site Unfinished Man. With a wicked 10+ years in the game as a pro automotive photographer and reviewer, he's got an eye for capturing those sleek rides like nobody else. Oh, and when he's not behind the camera, you'll find him dishing out some serious horology love, writing about all things watches.

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