Mercedes reveals sleek hybrid AMG 53 models

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

After debuting its boxy, gas-guzzling, off-road G-class SUV to the world Sunday night, Mercedes changed gears at the Detroit auto show Monday to show off its sleeker, electrified, on-road side.

The German automaker unveiled new AMG 53 performance variants of its lovely E-Class models -- the CLS, E-Class Coupe, E-Class Cabriolet – which are animated by powerful, mild-hybrid, inline-6 cylinder engines.

The Mercedes-AMG CLS53: Who says hybrids have to be slow and boring? Not Mercedes. The German automaker is hoping to charge up performance fans with the NAIAS debut of the new Mercedes-AMG CLS53. It's an anticipated 429-horsepower take on the more mainstream version of the CLS, seen above -- the third-generation coupe-like sedan that made its debut at the recent LA Auto Show. The CLS53 will be motivated by a turbo-six 3.0-liter gas engine and electric drive system.  The hybrid will not only boost mileage but help deliver instant torque while the turbos start spinning.

The “53” designation is part of the automaker's dizzying, alphanumeric ladder of increasingly aggressive trims, with 63 being the most potent. Mercedes is reportedly reserving the 63 designation for a V-8-powered GT sedan. Still, the 53-series 3.0-liter turbos are significant as they continue to proliferate a Mercedes lineup that is marching to an electrified future.

Augmented by the same 48-volt lithium ion battery found in the base CLS (introduced at the LA Auto Show), the powertrain is both more fuel-efficient and more powerful. Output in the base CLS is 362 horsepower and 664 foot-pounds-of-torque --numbers that rise to 429 and 384 for the 53-series models. Zero-60 acceleration will fly by in 4.4 seconds.

The ponies are mated to a quick-shifting, nine-speed automatic transmission with winter-friendly all-wheel drive.

The 53s are distinguished by twin chrome blades on the radiator grille as well as chrome, duel exhaust pipes in back. The touches upgrade an already fierce-looking fascia mated to Mercedes signature gorgeous coupe roofline on the CLS sedan and E-class Coupe models.

Leather seats are embossed with the AMG logo and come in multiple colors. The instruments and infotainment screen are encased behind Merc’s continuous “Widescreen Cockpit” glass layout. The infotainment system is controlled either by motion-detected swipes across the steering wheel, voice commands, or a touch-pad on the console.

The sleek 53s will be on sale late this year next to the square G-class as 2019 models.