New 2021 Mercedes CLS and AMG CLS 53 facelifts revealed

The Mercedes CLS has been updated with a fresh face, interior updates and the brand’s latest technologies

The Mercedes CLS has been facelifted for 2021, with a new look outside and updated interior trims arriving for the brand’s Audi A7 Sportback rival. It’ll be available to order in the UK this summer, with prices expected to start from around £60,000. 

Mercedes has kept exterior design changes limited to a new front bumper with larger intakes and a chrome splitter, plus a newly found piece of chrome trim strip for the rear valance, above a black rear diffuser. There are also two new 19-inch alloy wheel designs to choose from - a five spoke wheel and a ten spoke. 

AMG Line models get a sportier makeover, which includes a larger front splitter, deeper side skirts, a spoiler for the boot lid and a new radiator grille. The standard alloy wheels are also swapped for a set of AMG-branded 20-inch units, available in two colours. 

Inside, the biggest change is the adoption of a new nappa leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel, equipped with the same capacitive technology found on the recently revised E-Class saloon and the all-new C-Class. The updated sensor technology means that the driver no longer needs to place steering input through the wheel to let the car’s semi-autonomous systems know they’re in control - simply having hands gripping the wheel is enough.

Alongside the updated steering wheel, the CLS is now available with an updated range of interior trims. The combination of material and leather upholstery now includes a centre console in open-pore brown walnut or high-gloss grey wood. Leather upholstery options have been expanded to include a new two-tone grey option and a black and brown combination. 

As standard, the CLS comes with two 10.25-inch screens; one for the instrument cluster and a centrally positioned touchscreen broadcasting the car’s infotainment functions. These can be upgraded to a dual 12.3-inch dual screen system.

Special trim options from Merc’s Designo catalogue have increased in number, giving buyers access to five new two-tone nappa leather upholstery finishes and new exterior paint finishes, including cashmere White Magno, Emerald Green and Jupiter Red.

At the top end of the CLS range, there’s the updated AMG 53, which features a redesigned front bumper alongside an AMG signature grille with vertical slats. Buyers can opt for the AMG Night Package and the AMG Exterior Carbon II package too - the former introducing gloss black detailing, the latter adding carbon-fibre elements to the car’s exterior. 

Buyers also get performance focused upgrades, such as standard adaptive air suspension, bucket seats and bigger brakes.

The sporty flagship can be specified with two further option packs. The AMG Night Package II swaps the car’s standard radiator grille for a dark chrome piece and replaces its chrome badging with darkened alternatives. The AMG Dynamic Plus package adds red-painted brake calipers and a nappa leather/microfiber-trimmed AMG steering wheel.

Facelifted Mercedes CLS: engine and drivetrains

UK buyers will have three engine choices when the updated CLS goes on sale; two diesels and a straight-six petrol for the range-topping AMG CLS 53. 

The entry-level CLS 300d is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder mild-hybrid diesel unit, which produces 261bhp and 550Nm of torque.The unit features a 48-volt integrated starter-generator, which harvests energy that would otherwise be lost when the car is coasting. The electricity is stored in a compact battery pack and can be redeployed under hard acceleration, providing an extra 20bhp.

Like every model in the UK CLS line-up, the 300d’s powertrain sends drive to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. It returns claimed fuel economy figures of between 42.8 and 48.7mpg, with CO2 emissions from 153g/km.

Above that, there’s the non-electrically assisted CLS 400d. It’s powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel, which develops 325bhp and 700Nm of torque. Mercedes says that’s enough for a 0–62mph time of 5.2 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph.

The performance edged Mercedes AMG CLS 53 features the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder mild-hybrid petrol engine as the recently launched AMG E 53. It produces 423bhp and 520Nm of torque. Mercedes claims the AMG-fettled CLS can from 0–62mph in 4.5 seconds. 

From the factory, the range-topping CLS’s top speed is limited to 155mph. However, buyers can pay to have that limiter raised to 168mph, by speccing Mercedes’s optional AMG driver package. 

Hungry for more Mercedes news? Read about the company’s planned 804bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain here

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