2022 AMG CLS 53
Price: $115,000 CAD
Colour: High-Tech Silver Metallic
I recently drove the 2022 Mercedes C300 4Matic and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I have been away from the vehicles produced by the three-pointed-star for a while and it’s nice to be back. I drove another Mercedes that surprised me in the form of the 2022 Mercedes AMG CLS 53. This is a sport inspired version of the standard CLS. It’s not the full banana AMG clown show but it does provide a little of that AMG thrill when you want it. The AMG CLS 53 is a daily driver with a fancy pair of sneakers.
Power & Performance
The AMG CLS 53 delivers an inline-6, turbo charged engine with a 48V Mild Hybrid Assist that delivers 429hp and 385lb/ft of torque through a 9-Speed automatic transmission. All that power is delivered to the road through Mercedes’ 4Matic AWD system. This combination gives you lots of grunt that is supremely stable and keeps the car driving straight when you put your foot down. The vehicle doesn’t snarl or scream at you when you get aggressive with the throttle but it lets you know it hears you.
The drive modes on the CLS vary from “slippery” to “race”. I spent most of my time in “comfort” and “sport”. Sport+ and Race were a little too aggressive for regular driving with all the rev holds and blip shifting on the downshift although it must be said the noise was entertaining. This speaks to this cars dual identity. You could daily this thing with ease and enjoy every commute but when you want to hammer it and let off a little steam it’s only a few button pushes and you’re off and running.
The 2022 AMG CLS 53 is a handsome brute. This is another example of the four-door “coupe” thing the Europeans have been doing for a while now. I get what they mean by the description and the sportier roofline that tapers in the back certainly contributes to the good looks of this car. I don’t like calling a sedan a coupe but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years it’s that when I express an opinion neither my wife nor the automakers pay an attention.
There’s another trend in the automotive business that I’m not fond of and that’s hidden tailpipes. The C300 had those but they still fitted sporty looking facades into the bumper right in front of the real tailpipes. This is a very frustrating design element. Fortunately, on the CLS you get proper twin tailpipes. Real exhaust out the tips in the back. Lovely.
The interior of the 2022 AMG CLS 53 is a nice place to be. The materials used are top shelf and feel special. The test model I drove had red leather seats which look incredible. I’m hit and miss on red leather. Depending on the vehicle it can be magical like in the CLS or disappointing as I’ve seen in other vehicles. It’s a specific color that needs coordination and the CLS gets it right.
As lovely as the interior of the CLS is, it is also small. Climbing in and out can be a challenge if you’ve conditioned your body with a strict regimen of drive-thru’s. The rear seats are a particular issue as the small cabin combines with that tapered rear roofline I mentioned earlier to leave you with little to no headroom for full-sized adults. I’m 5’ 8” and sitting in the back behind my own seating position I was rubbing my head on the roof.
The CLS has a curious bit of technology. Located in the console is a strange, 90’s inspired touchpad that controls functions in the infotainment screen. It’s a piece of black plastic that sort of works but is cumbersome and awkward. Mercedes probably has ten other systems they could use in this car but they chose this one. I’m not sure I can square that in my head. Given the placement of this pad everytime you reach for something in the cupholder or go to grab your phone in the wireless charging pad you brush the touchpad and change your screen. I found this thing very frustrating and unusable.
The CLS comes with wireless charging which is tucked in front of the cupholders in the centre console. While I’m glad the technology was included in the vehicle the placement of this pad is idiotic. The pad itself is pretty small and jammed next to it are charging ports. The cupholders effectively block access to the charging pad so you’re going to have to clear a path before you can grab your phone.
The infotainment system on the CLS is integrated into a larger, single screen that holds the dash cluster as well. It has all the usual functionality and, as is typical with Mercedes, you can customize anything and everything you’d like. The screen resolution is excellent and it also features touch functionality. Curiously, much like the Genesis G90, while it has CarPlay and Android Auto, they’re both wired – no wireless connectivity. I know, I complain about this a lot but is it too much to ask? Is it so hard for the worlds automakers to get this done?
The sunroof on the CLS was curiously small. The trend these days is toward full glass roofs and the little window you get on the CLS, while sufficient, seems quaint and old-fashioned. The tapered “coupe” roofline is probably the culprit here but a car that comes in at the price point of this one really should have full glass.
The 2022 AMG CLS 53 has a true feel of quality. There’s no pretending here. This is a Mercedes tank and is really built like one. It feels heavy and solid which plants you to the road. It inspires confidence when driving. The interior materials are all top shelf (except that touchpad, what were you thinking Mercedes?) and feel modern and up to date. This is a quality product.
CQI – 8. Good overall quality carpet.
On the German side of things there is plenty of competition for the CLS. You can get a BMW series although in Canada all we have access to is the 760 and that starts at an eye watering $147k. Audi has a more reasonable option with the S7. It has a little more horsepower and torque and looks just as nice. If you’re interested in a dark horse consider the Genesis G80. It’s highest trim is $30k cheaper and offers most of what you find in the CLS with the exception of the snobbery associated with the Mercedes badge. Drive them all and see which one tickles your buying bone.
The 2022 AMG CLS 53 is a lovely car. Yes, it’s cramped and that touchpad made me want to hurt myself but aside from those little issues the vehicle is a top-notch sports sedan. You can daily drive it and it will deliver every single time. On a day when you see fit to put on your running shoes she will sprint with a respectable time. This is also a good-looking car. It’s not a coupe regardless of what they try and sell us. It’s really just a handsome sports sedan. In a world where those are becoming like an albino rhinoceros, the CLS is to be admired.