2024 Mercedes-AMG CLE53 Has Wide Fenders, 443-HP Mild-Hybrid Inline-6

Mercedes-Benz has been thinning its U.S. herd over the past couple years, discontinuing slow-selling cars like the A-Class sedan and consolidating other models that cannibalize each other. One of the most recent examples is the new CLE coupe, which was unveiled earlier this year. The CLE slots in between the old C-Class and E-Class coupes in terms of size, acting as a replacement for both, and now Mercedes-AMG has worked its magic on the CLE to create the CLE53.

The CLE53 is powered by an updated version of Mercedes’ 3.0-liter inline-6 engine we know and love, which in AMG form has a turbocharger, an electric auxiliary compressor (essentially an electric supercharger), and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system with an integrated starter generator.

Upgrades to the engine include new piston rings, tweaked injection, and reworked combustion chambers with redesigned inlet and outlet channels. The electric supercharger is new and offers near-continuous operation over longer periods of time and more torque at a wider range of speeds, and the turbocharger is a new, larger F1-style exhaust gas unit – working together, these provide 22 psi of boost, 5.8 psi more than before.

Rear 3/4 view of a matte black Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe driving on a road

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Total output is 443 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque – though up to 443 lb-ft of torque is available for up to 12 seconds when overboost is engaged – and the 48-volt system gives its own boost of 23 HP and 151 lb-ft at low speeds. That’s 14 HP and 59 lb-ft more than the old E53 coupe and 41 HP and 74 lb-ft more than what you get from the new four-cylinder C43 sedan, and it’s also 68 HP and 74 lb-ft greater than the six-cylinder CLE450 coupe. Mercedes says the CLE53 will hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, around half a second quicker than all three of those cars. (The old C43 coupe used an even less-powerful twin-turbo V6.)

A 9-speed automatic transmission is the only option, and the CLE53 comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system that provides fully variable torque distribution. The CLE53 also gets bigger brakes with four-piston front calipers, steel suspension with adaptive dampers, three-stage speed-sensitive steering, and standard rear-wheel steering that turns at up to 2.5 degrees.

AMG’s Dynamic Select features five different drive modes and three different stability control settings, and things like the engine, steering, suspension and transmission can be configured separately. An AMG Dynamic Plus package adds active engine mounts, a Race drive mode and a Drift mode that completely disengages the front axle to make the CLE53 operate in rear-wheel drive.

The engine bay of a Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Unlike the mid-tier AMG versions of the old C-Class and E-Class, the CLE53’s exterior styling is much more differentiated from a regular CLE coupe. Its dramatically flared fenders allow for a track that’s 2.3 inches wider at the front and 3 inches wider at the rear, and there are functional vertical vents aft of the front wheels. This gives the CLE53 a mean stance, especially with the optional 20-inch wheels, and the photos show the car wearing Michelin’s new Pilot Sport S 5 tires.

Up front you’ll find AMG’s Panamericana grille and a trio of large air intakes in the bumper. The hood has a functional vent like that of the C63, and the optional digital headlights have blue accents. The rear bumper has larger corner vents, a lovely ducktail spoiler, and a more pronounced diffuser with quad round exhaust tips.

Step inside and things are a bit less exciting. The CLE53 gets sporty bucket seats with fixed headrests, a flat-bottom steering wheel with drive-mode buttons, a “Supersport” display scheme, and lots of red accents. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same as the standard CLE’s cabin (which itself is nearly identical to the C-Class), with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 11.9-inch central touchscreen, squircle air vents, dynamic ambient lighting, and a mix of aluminum, carbon-fiber and gloss black trim.

Interior view of a Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

The CLE53 coupe will go on sale in the U.S. in 2024, likely in the middle of the year, and it will be joined by the CLE53 cabriolet later in the year. Pricing for the standard CLE hasn’t been announced yet, but expect the CLE53 to start at around $80,000.

Coming after the CLE53’s launch will be the range-topping CLE63, but we don’t yet know what will power it. The new C63 has a plug-in-hybrid powertrain that uses a four-cylinder engine for a total of 671 HP, but given the CLE’s use of six-cylinders, a four-pot doesn’t seem likely. Mercedes recently unveiled a new plug-in variant of the GLE53, which pairs this same inline-6 with an electric motor and a 31.2-kWh batter for a total of 536 HP. I bet the eventual CLE63 will use a version of that setup with more than 700 horsepower, which will be shared with the next-gen E63.

Front view of a matte black Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe driving

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Side view of a matte black Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Rear view of a matte black Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

The wheel and front fender of a matte black Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Dashboard shot of a Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe's interior

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Photo of a Mercedes-AMG CLE53 coupe's front seats

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

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