2019 AMG CLS 53: One Mercedes Sport Sedan Too Many?

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Throttle House puts the ‘middle-child’ Benz to the test to see if it is truly worthy of the AMG badge. 

Canadian YouTubers Throttle House describe Mercedes as “The kings of having a car in every class.” And, well, they’re not wrong. The CLS-Class is a great looking sedan with a coupe profile and a sporty edge, but it’s very close to the E-Class. And in AMG-tuned CLS 53 trim, it not only threatens to compete with the E 53 AMG, but also the upcoming AMG GT 4-Door. And with the popularity of the E 53 and 63 cars, and the PR push behind the new GT 4-Door, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the CLS 53 seems like the odd car out.

But, you’d be wrong.

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS 53 AMG.

Middle-child mid-sizer Proves its Worth

As they point out quickly, the 429 horsepower straight-six is not hand-built in Affalterbach. And “okay,” they say, “it doesn’t snarl like a V8. But it has so much character.” It makes an impressive 384 lb-ft of torque. And its electric motor, supercharger, and turbocharger work with its EQ-boost starter-alternator-controlled start/stop to make savage power off the line. Acceleration is “absolutely fantastic and smooth and linear, and completely devoid of lag,” and Zero to 60 comes in just 4.5 seconds. In short, it’s a car that’s  “… way too big for that to be an acceptable level of acceleration.” Just the way we like it.

Its adjustable suspension is stiff overall, but not exactly a cruiser. Dynamic bolstering keeps the front occupants firmly planted. Steering is razor-sharp, and the all-wheel drive system is confidence-inspiring. But the word of the day here is fantastic. “the driving experience in this car is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic,” host Thomas says. Co-host James says “Inside, the quality of the interior is fantastic.”

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS 53 AMG.

They’re a bit more critical of the exterior. They take Mercedes to task for referring to the four-door as a coupe, and compare its styling to a… Mazda. Ditto with the rear seats; while they’re comfortable and offer plenty of legroom, the sloping roof makes headroom a precious commodity.

But don’t think that this turns into a hit piece. The pair are as blown away by the car’s ergonomics as they are with its performance. They briefly get into all of the electronic features but stop themselves before they get too carried away. “Honestly,” Thomas says, “if you want to see what this car is capable of, you have to sit in on and start poking around.”

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS 53 AMG.

In the end, the pair doesn’t settle whether or not Mercedes has too many midsize performance sedans. But they came away smitten with the CLS. Summarizing their time with the car, Thomas says: “It was fun, it was sharp, it was luxurious, and we loved every minute with it.”

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James Derek Sapienza has worked as a writer and editor in the world of automotive journalism since 2015.

He has a BS in History at SUNY Brockport, with a focus on American popular culture. A fan of the classics with a special interest in German cars, he is a proud owner of a 1991 W124 Mercedes. He is a frequent contributor to Mustang Forums, MBWorld, 5Series, Rennlist, and more.

James can be reached at [email protected]

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