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First Drive: Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53

 
First Drive: Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53

Shades on, windows down, hands on the wheel – I thought I knew what I was in for with the all-new Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53. However, during our recent three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to Cherating in this dynamic vehicle, the German marque’s third-generation CLS truly redefined what I understood of the clichéd expression, “more than meets the eye”.

While Mercedes-Benz rightfully has the reputation for quality and excellence, and we have certainly leaped into the driver’s seat countless times to take a whirl of its newest offerings, it wasn’t until the AMG CLS 53 that we realised a four-door coupe could be this beautiful and agile at the same time. The sporty front section strikes out with a twin-blade radiator grille in silver chrome and slim headlamps, while the rear incorporates the sharp, streamlined edges of many past Mercedes coupes.

The road ahead was undoubtedly far and long, but the AMG CLS 53 delivered a sports car experience; owing to its 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six engine and new EQ boost system, the drive was an absolute breeze. The car did not feel light on its feet when taking corners and changing lanes; thanks to the new, standard fit AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather, the way it steered was impressive for a five-metre-long couple-saloon. Stable and powerful with snug understeering, the AMG CLS 53 offers a good drive in the city and over bumpy roads too.

Alongside the spot-on driving position and comfortable seating (which allows for ergonomic adjustments), I found this model’s interiors to be very well-constructed. The new cabin design is just as striking as the exterior, leaving you with nothing negative to say about it. Super-comfortable seats in high-quality leather, plenty of leg room, an IWC analogue clock and stylish ambient lighting, as well as two-tone interior colours, are just some of the elements that allowed the CLS 53 to live up to the brand name.

In terms of technology, the car’s Burmester sound system provides an audio experience almost on par with a concert hall while the 12.3-inch intuitive digital screen enables easy navigation of the entertainment features. There are six air vents spread the across the dash too. The vents are shaped like jet turbines and nicely backlit with LEDs; fiddle with the air temperature and they change colours temporarily – red for warm and blue for cool. On the high roads leading to The Kasturi, the drive was made more pleasurable with the Air Body Control suspension, offering much-needed relief from the bumpy bits through small villages.

The true takeaway of the car, however, was how smoothly it handled itself. Capable of going from zero to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds while bumping its power up to 450hp with a top speed of 250km/h, the car was an absolute ninja. It’s worth mentioning that for a turbo, it was very responsive and nicely linear.

Fret not, the AMG Speedshift TCT 9-speed sports submission had every car trailing in the CLS’s dust as soon as I hit the pedal in Sports mode. While it was unintentional the first time it happened, I soon found myself loving the way the AMG Performance exhaust system would seductively rumble with each shift of the gear paddle. And that’s not all: whether you’re a fast driver or just a chilled cruiser, the sexy roadster’s choice of “ECO”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport+” and “Individual” settings let you personalise how you’d like your drive to be. With the AMG CLS 53, choice is preserved for the privileged.

As flexible as the AMG CLS 53 was in changing its engine note intensity, my time with it ended just as soon. Overall, the all-new CLS AMG 53 is a sexy beast that’s the perfect introduction for those looking to ascend into the higher echelons of Mercedes’s more refined offerings. But more than just a luxurious ride, Mercedes-Benz’s Intelligent Drive philosophy and exclusive AMG performance features make this a powerful vehicle that speaks deep substance and certainly a bona fide supercar.

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