DETROIT, Michigan – So they aren’t exactly more affordable versions of the blistering, fully electric SLS coupe or the hybrid Project ONE for billionaires, but Mercedes-Benz is introducing three unprecedented models whose powertrains bring the AMG performance division into the electric age. The svelte CLS sedan as well as the coupe and cabriolet versions of the E-Class are kicking off the brand-new 53 Series.
All three are powered by a new 3.0-litre inline-six which is boosted by a conventional turbocharger and an electric compressor. The latter is supplied by an electric motor installed between the combustion engine and the nine-speed automatic gearbox. There, it has the dual role of alternator and starter. The electric compressor instantly springs into action to produce torque at low engine rpm, and the turbocharger then takes over to increase power during acceleration.
The combustion engine generates 429 horsepower and a maximum torque of 384 lb.-ft., which helps the CLS 53 4MATIC sedan clock in at 4.5 seconds in the 0-100 km/h sprint. This performance is also achieved in part by its flawless all-wheel drivetrain.
The EQ Boost alternator/starter produces 21 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque all on its own. It supplies a 48-volt electric system whose lighter wiring is four times more efficient. The classic 12-volt system still supplies the lighting and control interfaces in the cabin. Among its numerous roles, the starter/alternator also controls the almost imperceptible stopping and restarting of the combustion engine while ensuring the consistency of the idle and a “freewheel” mode.
The three versions of the 53 Series can be recognized from the outside by a two-branch grille that used to be reserved for models with a V8 engine, a front skirt, AMG sculpted rocker panels, a rear shield with diffuser and rounded chrome exhaust tips. The small spoiler on the very edge of the trunk comes in various colours. It can, however, be replaced by a carbon fibre spoiler for a few extra dollars.
Moreover, the three 53 Series vehicles have a new virtual dashboard with multiple configurations, two 12.3-inch screens and an AMG sport steering wheel. They also offer five driving modes that harness the air suspension, which controls and maintains continuous stability, depending on the load.
This suspension also helps raise the body to overcome steeper driveways and then brings it back down at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics, handling and stability with a lower centre of gravity. Braking is enhanced with four large composite steel discs grabbed in front by four-piston callipers.
A special Edition 1 version of the CLS 53 will be offered when the new series launches. Its interior finish will include various copper details to provide contrast against the nappa leather seats.