The last time Mercedes rationalized the C-Class and E-Class into a freestanding coupe and convertible, the Germans called the result the CLK. Debuting in 1997, the CLK sat on the C-Class platform but adopted the E-Class’s more mature styling. In this latest C- and E- remix, the lines have shifted. The result is known as the CLE, sitting on the already-rationalized MRA II platform that supports the latest C-Class and E-Class, the Mercedes-Benz version adopting styling more familiar from the E-Class Coupe. On the CLE’s AMG variant, the styling moves in the direction of the old, bad boy C-Class AMG.
This is the first AMG out of the top rank — think, 63 and up — to get AMG’s pumped-up hood with the heat evacuation vent running between power domes. And even without the black paint and optional AMG Night Package, the AMG CLE 53 is everywhere more intense than the retiring AMG E 53 and even the AMG C 63 S.
AMG’s new family look strikes a pose, starting with a larger, more pronounced grille than on the current AMG E 53, underlined by a splitter across the front fascia. A DRL eyebrow sits above the headlights, two additional LED spots in each lamp recalling the E-Class heyday of quad lamps. The hood begins that steep sweep up to the swept-back windshield, while further down, a pair of fender vents help draw cooling air over the “thoroughly modified” turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine. A short deck ends in a more pronounced spoiler. Down in back, the rear fender vents are embellished with black trim, and AMG’s four round exhaust finishers poke through a diffuser. An AMG Performance Studio Package goes over the top with aero flics on the front and rear fenders, an even stouter decklid spoiler, and an even beefier diffuser.
Standard 19-inch wheels can be optioned to 20 inches as on the photo car above. Either way, the coupe’s track is wider by 2.3 inches in the front and three inches in back compared to the standard CLE. Buyers who opt for the larger size will find Michelin Pilot Sport S 5 tires sized 265/35 in front, 295/30 in back.
Up front, the well-traveled mild hybrid inline-six has been upgraded to be more powerful and efficient. Tweaks like reshaped intake runners and exhaust manifold, a larger turbo with 5.8 psi more boost, and a new auxiliary electric compressor raise output to 443 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque; torque can be run up to 443 lb-ft for 12 seconds thanks to an overboost function. This motor without the update peaks at 429 hp and 384 lb-ft in today’s AMG E 53.
The CLE’s 48-volt motor-generator contributes to efficiency and smoothness, adding 23 hp and 151 lb-ft at lower speeds and filling in troughs in power delivery as the ICE motor does its thing. Shifting comes courtesy of AMG’s nine-speed automatic.
We know the interior formula by now: A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, an 11.9-inch infotainment display, AMG’s Performance steering wheel, lots of satin metal and carbon fiber, a set of comfy AMG seats or the AMG Performance Seat Package in MB-Tex and microfiber or optional Nappa leather, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The dynamic formula is getting routine on the spec sheet, cribbed from the new AMG SL and 2024 AMG GT, and soon to appear on the new G-Class, but it’s still anything but routine in action. There’s the hydraulic AMG Ride Control suspension with Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ maps. There are five AMG Dynamics modes (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual) three AMG Dynamic Select program (Basic, Advance, Pro). And there’s AMG Performance 4Matic+ in cahoots with rear-wheel steering.
The AMG CLE 53 will be just as ready for a date at the tea house as one for the track. It’s a bit mature in look, however, and likely so in price, whenever we get that. The departing AMG C 63 S starts at about $83,000, the departing AMG E 53 starts at about $85,000, our guess is the MSRP bullseye won’t leave much change, if any, from $90,000 before options.