2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53: Smooth Operator

Lionel Kong
Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

Update of the very powerful third-generation AMG CLS 53 brings cosmetic and tech upgrades

2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic+

Launched: May 2022, Price S$554,888 with COE (July 2022)
Four-door, large performance sedan, five seats
435hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, VES C2, 9.8L/100km


Fast and understated

Solidly insulated cabin


Over-complicated entertainment interface

Not much visible extras over a standard CLS


The current crop of Mercedes-Benz cars really have a thing about blending into one slightly amorphous bunch. The E-Class sedans, C-Class sedans, and even the super luxe S-Class have such a united design language that it’s easy for a casual bystander to mistake one for the other. That’s not really a bad thing for the brand, as it shows how a strong design can be easily stretched or shrunk to fit the size of the car.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

Even the CLS, which, when it first appeared in 2004 was something of a game-changing, genre-bending stunner, has now by 2022, somehow been folded tidily into the design of the rest of the Mercedes-Benz sedans. Except it’s not technically a sedan. It’s largely seen as the car that gave rise to the modern large grand touring four-door coupe segment. It was sold as an alternative to the staid sedan, and people were lining up for it despite the higher price tag over other similarly sized Mercedes-Benz cars.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

The CLS has prospered and is now into its third generation, or in this case, generation 3.5 because the car pictured here is the midlife facelift of the generation-three car, first launched in 2018. 

It’s also not the standard CLS, which would be the CLS 450 with a 3.0-litre, turbo inline six-cylinder engine and 367 horsepower.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

This is the screamingly fast AMG CLS 53, with the 3.0-litre engine turned up to 435 horsepower, and paired with AMG adaptive suspension, speedshift MG nine-speed automatic transmission, plus 4Matic+ all-wheel drive.

Oh and also, it’s topped off with the updated CLS body and tech package, which we detailed in the launch story earlier this year. 

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

The award for the biggest in-car touchscreen in the Mercedes-Benz range goes to the S-Class, but the CLS 53 carries over the wide, twin screen setup of the original launch car. The steering wheel has been updated though if you’re still not a fan of the swipe controls, best look elsewhere now.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

We’ve never really come to terms with the touch sensitive controls on Mercedes-Benz steering wheels either, but on the outside the car gets new front and rear bumper designs, with the CLS 53 getting a quite aggressively angled bootlid spoiler. 

Larger brakes and wheels, along with the four exhaust tips identify the CLS 53 from the base model, but beyond that there’s very little other visual adornments. It’s a low-key, elegant performance car but the good stuff with these guys are all under the bonnet and within the chassis.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

The CLS chassis is largely based upon those of the E-Class medium sedan, though at five metres in length the CLS 53 is a pretty big car by local standards. The drivetrain is also carried over from the 2018 launch version, not that it needed much in the way of improvement anyway. With more than four hundred horses worth of power from the very smooth six-cylinder turbo engine it punches forwards with serious authority.

It’s a mild hybrid, and the integrated starter motor brings an additional 16kW and 250Nm to the show when the car is accelerating.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

There’s an optional sports exhaust for an extra S$7,400 if you like, but even in standard form the car does rumble with some serious menace at startup. It’s one of those cars that is louder outside than it is inside, where the cabin insulation keeps it all business class for the Burmeister audio system to do its job. It’s not a boy racer type engine note though, but a weighty one that does make its presence felt within the cabin, in subtle ways.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

When in motion there’s little doubt that this is a car designed for fast progress on the German autobahn, and the adaptive all-wheel drive system will proportion engine power to the front and rear as needed to keep a firm grip on the road, and it really does stick to the line you point to with great accuracy at speed. The long wheelbase doesn’t make it as agile as more compact sports cars, but it does feel smaller the quicker you go through corners. The CLS 53 will do slow and steady in comfort, but despite its understated looks it’s a car built for sporty driving. 

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

There are roomier cars you can get for the money, and the whole swoopy curvy design of the CLS does compromise the back seat headroom though it’s not by much these days as designers have managed to make it work better than before. The boot is reasonably big and the rear bench folds flat to expand carrying capacity.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 in Singapore

In the age of super fast electric cars like the Audi-Tron GT and on the back of increasingly escalated petrol prices however, the idea of a large and powerful internal combustion engine in a performance car isn’t as enticing as before. The CLS is also quite an expensive car for something so understated. The half-million dollar price tag puts it firmly in BMW M3 and M4 territory, and those guys wear their performance bits outside in a much more showy way. However, the CLS is a bigger car than the BMW M3 and M4. There’s no Mercedes-AMG E-Class equivalent to the CLS 53, and you’ll have to spring for a Mercedes-AMG E 63 S for nearly S$200k more if you really want a similarly sized sedan and not a ‘four-door coupe’. The E 63 S does have more than 600 horsepower, so it’s a case if you get what you pay for.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic+

Drivetrain type Petrol-electric mild hybrid 
Engine 2,999cc, inline 6, turbocharged 
Power435hp at 5500 – 6100rpm
Torque520Nm at 1800-5800rpm 
Gearbox9-speed automatic
Electric Motor16kW
BatteryLithium Ion, unknown capacity
System PowerNot stated
System Torque Not stated
0-100km/h4.5 seconds
Top Speed250km/h
Fuel Efficiency9.8 L/100km 
VES Band / modifier C2 / +S$25,000
AgentCycle & Carriage
PriceS$554,888 with COE and VES
Availability Now
Verdict Fast and understated, it’s the car for the Mercedes-Benz fan and driving enthusiast, if you can afford it


4-door 5 seat CLS 53 AMG CLS-Class Mercedes-Benz petrol sedan

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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