Mercedes-AMG CLE 53: a new name for the performance coupe world

The first AMG-fettled CLE is the 53 model with a 449bhp six-cylinder engine

The Mercedes CLE has quite the task on its hands to replace the two-door versions of both the C-Class and E-Class. To give the new coupe a helping hand, Mercedes-AMG has now bolstered weaponry by adding the hot CLE 53 variant.

Rivals for the Mercedes-AMG CLE 53 are few in 2023. The Mercedes will have to compete with the BMW 440i in the sporty coupe sector and, less-obviously, there’s the new Ford Mustang arriving in 2024. Audi’s S5 alternative was taken off sale earlier this year. 

The standard Mercedes CLE is offered with four and six-cylinder petrol units and also a diesel mild-hybrid. The 53 uses a six-cylinder petrol like the 375bhp CLE 450 but it’s tuned to 443bhp and 560Nm of torque (with an overboost function to 600Nm). The CLE 53’s engine is also a mild-hybrid with a 23bhp integrated starter generator and a 48V motor. 

The old Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe (there wasn’t a 53-badged version of the C-Class to sit below the C 63 flagship) took 4.7 seconds to go from 0 to 62mph and the E 53 Coupe took 4.4 seconds. The new CLE 53 is quicker, taking 4.2 seconds to complete the sprint. Power is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission, fettled by AMG to deliver a more engaging driving experience. AMG has fitted big four-piston front brake calipers with perforated discs and there’s an extra ‘Sport+’ driving mode too, which alters the engine, steering, transmission and chassis. 

There’s rear-wheel steer as standard with up to 2.5 degrees of movement (not as much as the E-Class’ 4.5 degrees), which Mercedes claims helps to boost agility and stability. Also fitted as standard is Mercedes’ ‘Ride Control’ - an adaptive damping system which can either focus on refinement in ‘Comfort’ mode or towards a more engaging feel in ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’. 

The 53 comes with some subtle exterior tweaks (most likely to make room for the upcoming CLE 63 model). There’s an AMG-specific front grille with bespoke inserts, flared front and rear wheel arches which house a wider track (an extra 58mm in the front and 75mm to the rear), plus 20-inch alloy wheels. As we’ve seen with previous 53-badged Mercedes-AMG cars, there’s a set of round quad-exhaust tips to the rear. 

Inside the CLE 53, it’s broadly the same cabin you’d find elsewhere in the CLE range with a dash layout featuring a 12.3-inch driver’s display and 11.9-inch central touchscreen. The 53 is exclusively offered with leather or Nappa leather, however, and the headrests gain the AMG logo. 

The driver’s display features a new ‘Supersport’ mode which places greater focus on the tachometer. An AMG menu allows you to access the car’s data with gear-indicators, a lap timer and G-force metres all on show.

Mercedes hasn’t revealed pricing of the CLE 53 just yet, but we expect it to eclipse the current most expensive model (the £72,765 450 4MATIC Premier Edition) quite comfortably when it goes on sale in early 2024.

Click here for our list of the best performance cars on sale right now...

Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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