The most powerful CLS could be here in 2018

It’s been 13 years since Mercedes-Benz invented a new niche with the CLS model, and the four-door coupe entered its third generation at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. Now sporting a more aggressive exterior design with styling cues borrowed from the AMG GT sports car, the CLS borrows most of its underpinnings and interior features from the E-Class. In short, it’s a fancier E-Class with a coupe roof and sportier styling, which makes it one of the most exciting Mercs available for 2018. With the four-door coupe on its way to dealerships next year, we’re looking to seeing a brand-new AMG version on public roads by 2019.

Although not yet confirmed by the folks from Stuttgart, a beefed-up variant of the CLS is most definitely in the works. Just like the outgoing model, it should share underpinnings with the AMG E63 sedan and it’s safe to assume that it will be offered in two trims. There will be a "base" CLS63 model and a slightly more powerful CSL63 S version. The new AMG-prepped CLS will go against the existing Audi RS7 and the next-generation model that the German firm is likely to unveil in 2018. It remains to be seen whether there will still be a BMW M6 Gran Coupe to compete with, but the AMG CSL63 will definitely add a bit color to the midsize segment. Let’s find out more about it the speculative review below, which also includes a rendering of the upcoming four-door coupe.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG CLS63.

Exterior

  • Sportier front bumper
  • Larger bumper intakes
  • New rear diffuser
  • "V8" front fender badges
  • Black window trim
  • "AMG badges"
2020 Mercedes-AMG CLS63
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The AMG model will have a more aggressive bumper with large outlets onto the sides and a bigger splitter below

A natural evolution of the previous model, the third-generation CLS is slightly more aggressive than its predecessor even without the AMG treatment. It has a unique grille that becomes wider toward the base (a feature borrowed from the AMG GT sports car), a forward-slanting nose that we don’t see on other big Mercs, and a pair of menacing-looking headlamps. The engine hood is also new, now completely surrounded by body surfaces.

So how can AMG make this CLS sportier up front? Well, it will probably get the usual upgrades, most likely similar to those seen on the AMG E63 model. X-Tomi’s rendering provides a few valuable hints here, as it includes a more aggressive bumper with large outlets onto the sides and a bigger splitter below. The four-door coupe should also get a revised main grille with a thicker horizontal slat with an "AMG" badge.

The performance division should only replace the diffuser with a more aggressive element and maybe add a spoiler

Onto the sides, AMG will do very little to alter the CLS’ sexy looks. The new car retains the high, arching waistline or the original CLS, but it has a cleaner, more elegant appearance now. The low greenhouse with frameless windows and the muscular rear haunches that blend smoothly into the flat rear end complete the unique profile of the sedan. AMG upgrades in this area will be limited to just black window trim as standard, V-8 badges on the front fenders, and exclusive wheels wrapped high-performance tires. Subtle but effective.

Moving around back, AMG will have to deal with the significantly redesigned rear end, now equipped with two-section taillights with sharp edges and a bumper-mounted license plate. The arched decklid and the beefy bumper with vertical vents on each side is still there, so there’s plenty of familiar stuff to work with. But don’t expect to see massive changes from AMG here. The performance division should only replace the diffuser with a more aggressive element and maybe add a spoiler for optimized aerodynamics.

Needless to say, it would be hard for AMG to ruin the CLS neat looks, so I’m expecting the CLS63 to be the sexiest AMG on the market once it hits dealerships. And it will look great in the bright green color in the rendering.

Interior

  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • New Nappa leather upholstery
  • Aluminum and carbon-fiber trim
  • Sports seats
  • AMG Track Pace app
2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 pictured here.

AMG-specific upgrades should begin with a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in black leather

The new CLS’ interior is heavily based on the E-Class, so it’s safe to say that the AMG model isn’t much of a mystery. You just have to look inside the AMG E63 and picture all the changes that Mercedes has made for the CLS. In case you haven’t compared the two yet, the CLS comes with new A/C vents in a jet aircraft turbine design, new wood trim, exclusive seats, and the Energizing Comfort feature.

AMG-specific upgrades should begin with a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in black leather and fitted with Touch Control, electroplated shift paddles, and a bezel with the brand’s logo. The regular seats will be replaced by sportier units with improved lateral support. These should be wrapped in the usual black Nappa leather and Dinamica microfiber as standard, but the options list should include lighter colors like Nut Brown or Macchiato (with matching door center panels). Mercedes should also offer the AMG Performance seats with integrated headrests.

The more expensive and powerful CLS63 S model should get additional standard features

The more expensive and powerful CLS63 S model should get additional standard features, including Nappa leather on top of the dashboard, a 12 o’clock marking on the steering wheel, contrast topstitching, and am AMG crest on the headrests. The seats should get custom piping and grey seatbelts, while the center stack will have a new analogue clock. The standard aluminum trim and the optional carbon-fiber and matte silver glass-fiber inserts should round off the cabin design.

Tech-wise, the AMG CLS63 should benefit from the company’s latest AMG Track Pace app. Introduced to supplement the Racetimer app in the beefed-up E-Class, it enables drivers to analyze and improve their track driving style as well as share their performance with other AMG drivers via social media platforms like Facebook and Youtube. Developed for for Apple iPhones only for now, the app is connected to the on-board race app via WiFi or Bluetooth and gets all vehicle data in real time from the Comand Online infotainment system. The app can also be connected to GoPro cameras so that the driver can make an interactive video of his weekend at the race track.

Drivetrain

  • New 4.0-liter V-8 engine
  • 563-horsepower "base" model
  • 603-horsepower CLS63 S version
  • 0 to 60 mph in as quick as 3.3 seconds
  • AMG nine-speed automatic transmission
  • 4Matic all-wheel-drive
2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 692883

Note: 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 pictured here.

The engine and transmission will likely come from the AMG E63

Since previous AMG versions of the CLS shared drivetrains with other Mercedes-AMG models, it’s safe to assume that the new variant will do the same. The engine and transmission will likely come from the AMG E63, as it happend before 2017. However, just like the E-Class model ditched the 5.5-liter V-8 in favor for the newer 4.0-liter V-8, the AMG CLS63 will adopt the brand’s more modern powerplant. Output figures should be identical to the sedan, so expect the CLS to come in two flavors: a "base" CLS63 and a range-topping CLS63 S version.

The entry-level version will probably arrive with the same 563 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque as the AMG E63. This will account for a 13-horsepower and 32-pound-foot increase over the previous 5.5-liter V-8 engine. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph should be achieved in around 3.4 seconds with these specs, while top speed will be limited to the usual 155 mph.

The CLS63 S should cranks out a whopping 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of twist

Moving over to the CLS63 S, customers should get access to a more exciting 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of twist with this model. That’s 18 horses and 37 pound-feet more than the previous car. Hitting 60 mph in this version should take 3.3 seconds, a tenth-second quicker than the CLS63. Top speed should also increase by a whopping 31 mph to 186 mph. Compared to the outgoing model, the new AMG CLS63 will be around two tenths quicker to 60 mph.

Both versions will get AMG’s latest Speedshift nine-speed sport transmission specifically tuned for the CLS. The unit should boast re-engineering hardware and software, which will return quicker shifts and smoother operation. Additionally, it could get the AMG E63’s Drift Mode, which can be engaged by selecting the Race drive setting, deactivating the ESP, and then putting the transmission in Manual mode. This setup will turn the CLS63 into a rear-wheel-drive car.

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 High Resolution Exterior
- image 697095

Note: 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 pictured here.

Both models will be exclusively available with the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive

As you might have already guessed, both models will be exclusively available with the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system. The system will include fully variable torque distribution on the front and rear axles for optimum traction and will bring smooth transition from rear-wheel to all-wheel drive and back again due to the control unit being integrated into the vehicle system architecture as a whole.

The four-door coupe should also benefit from the cylinder deactivation feature that was introduced with the AMG E63 sedan. In the partial-load range, cylinders two, three, five, and eight are deactivated, lowering fuel consumption. The system also works in the "Comfort" transmission drive program, when the cylinder deactivation system is available from 1,000 to 3,250 rpm. The transition from four to eight-cylinder operation should be "immediate and imperceptible," so that the passengers do not experience any loss of comfort.

Prices

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 High Resolution Exterior
- image 697093

With pricing for the regular CLS not yet available, it’s difficult to estimate how much the upcoming AMG version will cost. However, we do know that the CLS is usually a bit more expensive than the E-Class. We also know that the U.S. market usually gets the range-topping S versions only, so the beefed-up CLS is likely to cross the pond in CLS63 S trim only. The outgoing model retails from $108,900, so the new-generation version should cost at least $110,000 before options.

Competition

Audi RS7

2015 - 2016 Audi RS7 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Launched in 2013, the RS7 rose to fame quite rapidly and became the AMG CLS63’s main rival in this small niche. Developed alongside the same guidelines, it sports a unique design in the Audi lineup with a coupe-style roof, a short, notchback-style decklid, and unique taillights. The RS package added larger vents and revised bumpers to the standard A7, but the current Audi is not quite as sporty as the CLS in terms of exterior design. However, it’s pretty potent performance-wise, with its twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 generating 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Audi launched a more powerful version in 2016, called the RS7 Performance and upgraded to 605 horsepower. Just like the AMG CLS63 it has a sports automatic transmission — but with eight speeds instead of nine — and an all-wheel-drive system. A 2015 update added Audi’s latest infotainment system, Matrix LED headlamps, 4G mobile internet, and minor styling tweaks. The second-generation A7 was introduced in 2017, but the RS7 version has yet to be launched. A 2018 release is likely. Pricing for the current RS7 starts from $113,900.

Read our full story on the Audi RS7 and RS7 Performance.

BMW M6 Gran Coupe

2016 BMW M6 High Resolution Exterior
- image 585454

The M6 Gran Coupe was introduced at about the same time as the RS7 as a four-door version of the M6 Coupe. The four-door shares its entire front end with the two-door version, but the rear section was revised to better fit in this niche. Inside the cabin, we can find the same M6 coupe features but with extra room for rear-seat passenger. The sharing continues under the hood, where the Gran Coupe packs the same twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 560 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. Less powerful, the Bimmer is also slower than the CLS63, needing 4.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, while top speed is limited to 155 mph (unless you get the M Driver Package which increases it to 189 mph). Unfortunately, the Competition Pack developed for the M6 isn’t available for the Gran Coupe, so owner miss out on the 600-horsepower upgrade. The current M6 Gran Coupe retails from $119,800 in the U.S., but the vehicle’s future is uncertain. BMW has already discontinued the 6 Series and word has there won’t be a successor anytime soon, so the Gran Coupe could get the axe too.

Read our full review of the BMW M6 Gran Coupe.

Conclusion

2020 Mercedes-AMG CLS63
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There’s been a lot of talk about Mercedes-Benz not planning to offer a shooting brake version of the third-generation CLS. That would be sad, especially given that the current market is trading more and more station wagons for crossovers, especially in the U.S., but the AMG version is more than likely to continue. And by bringing a new AMG CLS63, Mercedes will be doing the right thing, as the latest four-door coupe is one of the most exciting Mercs out there in terms of design. The AMG version would be the four-door AMG GT we’ve been asking for so long now, with the gorgeous, sporty looks backed by a powerful drivetrain and solid performance.

  • Leave it
    • * Won’t be cheap
    • * No shooting brake version?

References

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 661154

Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Mercedes-AMG E63

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 High Resolution Exterior
- image 692886

Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 698223

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe.

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