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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. 

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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+’. 

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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...

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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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