Style with substance: 2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 road test review

A Mercedes-AMG CLS53 in an underground carpark.

Craig Duff

Posted June 06, 2022

They say the devil wears Prada, and few drape it more elegantly than the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53. The prestige four-door coupe is a fusion of design and determination.

Four-door luxury coupes are a rare breed. They’re an expensive indulgence for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Mercedes has rationalised the range for this iteration of the CLS, with the AMG CLS 53 the only version on offer. It’s not quite the fully fledged V8-propelled AMG 63 powerhouse you’ll find in the more conventional E-Class sedan, but it is more than enough to get the blood flowing.

And you won’t see too many limousines cruising out for a track day.

Owners will win the fashion stakes while also claiming bragging rights.

For a bit of added flair, the CLS 53 has an impressive external LED display along with a multitude of interior “mood” lighting to match your temperament, from toned-down yellows to ragged-edge reds.

Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 | RACV

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What’s the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 cost?

A standard CLS 53 starts at $183,600 before on-road costs. The Limited Edition version adds $14,000 to the bottom line.

Just 20 examples of the global 299-car consignment were directed to Australia. Beyond the highly specified regular models, the LE adds a generous dollop of visual bling and bespoke inclusions, ranging from the white or grey metallic paint finish to a carbon fibre interior trim, two-tone leather upholstery, red seat belts, 20-inch black alloy wheels, power-closing doors and the Dynamic Plus pack which adds a Race drive program with drift mode.

Buyers of the “normal” CLS 53 who want the carbon fibre interior look will need to find an extra $5,500.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km and a pack covering the first five visits to the dealership (which corresponds with the warranty period) costs $6,150.

Rivals in this rarefied segment include the Audi S7, priced at $168,900 before on-road costs, the BMW 840i Gran Coupe at $184,900, Maserati Ghibli Modena S at $178,500 and the Porsche Panamera from $203,500.

How safe is the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53?

ANCAP’s pockets aren’t deep enough to crash-test every example of automotive exotica on sale in Australia.

The CLS is a case in point. Despite the lack of an official star rating, the big Merc is based on the E-Class and that was rated a five-star vehicle when it was tested in 2016.

Default equipment in the four-door coupe includes The CLS53 packs in nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, cross-traffic assist, active blind-spot assist, traffic sign recognition and driver drowsiness detection, to name but a few.


The 2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 is a luxury four-door coupe.
The CLS range has contracted in Australia to just the single model.
Interstate or freeway cruising is the sweet-spot for the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53.

What’s the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 like inside?

Carbon fibre is like Vegemite. Some people prefer a conservative application; others layer it on. The designers of the CLS 53 are obviously in the latter category.

The interior of the CLS 53 is already imposing, from the four turbine-inspired air vents to the pair of 12.3-inch screens that dominate the dash.

The infotainment screen includes the expected satellite navigation, smartphone mirroring and digital radio, with the audio outputs emerging from a 13-speaker Burmester system.

The powered front seats have inbuilt heaters and the entire upholstery is leather.

Wireless phone charging is standard, along with a sunroof.

An ambient lighting display stretches across the dash and into the doors and features 64 colours. Finding your preferred hue is a great way to while away time when stuck in traffic.

Being a coupe, space in the rear seats isn’t a priority. Adults can fit in the back, but the lack of leg room means taller bodies probably won’t appreciate an interstate jaunt.

What’s under the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53’s bonnet?

A turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine is supplemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system dubbed “EQ Boost” to provide the CLS with no shortage of get up and go, despite its considerably heft.

Mercedes quotes a 100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds.

Engine outputs are 320kW and 520Nm, delivered to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The mild hybrid can boost those outputs by 16kW/250Nm and basically fills in any holes in the torque curve to keep the car at peak performance. A welcome by-product of the system is an unobtrusive and near-instant response during stop-start take-offs.


The digital displays in the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 are state of the art.
The AMG-tweaked turbo six-cylinder engine hits 100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
The ambient interior colours can be modified to suit any palette or occasion.

Is the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 efficient?

No one buys an AMG-badged Mercedes in the expectation it is going to be a fuel miser, particularly when that vehicle weighs more than two-tonnes with a driver on board.

The CLS 53 does better than expected, with a claimed combined fuel consumption of 9.2 litres every 100km.

Expect that to sit closer to mid-10s; more if you’re purely driving around town.

How does the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 drive?

How fast do you want to go? If the answer is supremely fast, buy the E 63 AMG coupe. It is powered by a 4.0-litre turbo V8 and will hit 100km/h in around 3.4 seconds. That’s electric-car quick. It’s also only a two-door coupe, so it lacks the practicality of the CLS 53. Buying this car is a case of conceding a little pace for a lot of looks.

Australian speed limits don’t let you explore the remits any AMG can afford owners unless they’re prepared to take it to a track. That isn’t something most CLS 53 buyers would consider.

This is a performance car, but the preference is on owners enjoying the overall experience rather than the outright pace.

The preferred terrain for this luxury cruiser is interstate roads and fast, sweeping curves. In that case there’s no arguing with the capability of the machine.

The air suspension absorbs big bumps, at low or high speeds. Being an AMG vehicle, some road noise does intrude into the interior. Deal with it. A BMW M-car or Porsche Panamera intentionally delivers similar sounds - it's part of the visceral experience of having a high performance vehicle.


The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 uses air suspension to cushion its occupants.
The CLS 53 badge indicates a combination of conventional engine power and a 48-volt "mild hybrid" assist that tends to fill in the low-down torque deficit.
Front and rear space in the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 will comfortably accommodate four adults.

Should I buy a Mercedes-AMG CLS 53?

Matched against its competitive set, the Mercedes wields itself with distinction. The steering, speed of response to steering or throttle inputs and overall ambience make it a top-shelf proposition.

Because it doesn’t wear a “63” badge, some (more expensive) rivals are absolutely quicker, and some enjoy more room in the rear seats.

Horses for courses and if the looks of the Mercedes-AMG resonate, then this is a resolutely good vehicle.


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.