2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53 drive review: A glimpse of AMG’s next decade

What does this new system mean for drivers? For starters, 0-60 launches in 4.4 seconds, smoother powertrain response at all speeds, a nearly imperceptible stop/start system and better fuel economy. An AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic transmissions sends power to all four wheels, courtesy of a retuned AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel-drive system; this system connects the permanently driven rear axle to the front axle via an electro-mechanically controlled clutch, transitioning from rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive when necessary.
The rest of the AMG recipe is also there, including more aggressive design details like the signature twin-blade grille finished in silver chrome, unique bumpers front and back, a lip spoiler, round twin exhaust tips finished in high-gloss chrome, a rear diffuser and other visual elements. The changes more pertinent to handling include a wider track along with standard 19-inch wheels.
On the inside the CLS53 boasts dual 12.3-inch screens, with the infotainment screen transitioning seamlessly into the instrument cluster. Mercedes calls it the “widescreen cockpit.” The cluster itself is all digital now, offering a variety of cluster display modes including a custom-configurable look. The infotainment system can be operated by the familiar rotary dial located on the center console but also by voice commands, which can also be used to control the A/C system. Even so, there are plenty of buttons on the center stack as well as the steering wheel, which features touch-sensitive buttons for swiping motions that can be used to control the digital instrument cluster. In the CLS53’s case, that steering wheel is the AMG Performance wheel wrapped in leather, offered in a choice of a microfiber surface or wood inserts.