NAIAS 2018: Mercedes-AMG shows hybrids can have hot-rod performance

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Mercedes-AMG introduces E 53 and CLS 53 high-performance hybrids

Mercedes-AMG is perhaps best known for rolling out high-performance biturbo V8s these days. For the 2018 North American International Auto Show, the in-house tuning division has turned their attention to hybrids. The company has given the E-Class Coupe (and Cabrio) and CLS uprated engines and e-boost. These hybridized performance cars have been dubbed the E 53 and CLS 53.

Distinguishing the 53 series models are a twin-blade radiator grille, the front apron in A-wing design, the AMG-specific side sill panels, the rear apron with diffuser insert plus the round exhaust tailpipe trim elements in high-gloss chrome. Mercedes-AMG went as far as redesigning the mud flaps to aid in aerodynamics.

Furthermore, all models come with a trunk lip spoiler painted in body colour, but carbon fiber is also available. The E 53 Coupe and Cabriolet, along with the CLS 53, start out with 19-inch alloy wheels with the option to upgrade to 20 inches. The CLS 53 benefits from additional side air curtains, aimed at improving both aerodynamics and air flow.

Inside, there are more AMG exclusive trimmings to further separate it from the less sporting Mercedes-Benzes. Both cars get AMG seat upholstery layout and AMG badges, red seat belts plus trim elements in carbon fibre or glass fiber in matt silver. There's also the new AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather with individualisation options such as wood inserts in piano lacquer or DINAMICA microfibre in the grip area.

The main technical highlight of the E 53 and CLS 53 is the Formula One-inspired EQ Boost system. EQ Boost works by combining a starter motor and alternator with the electric motor and is fitted between the engine and transmission. It then charges via an electric auxiliary compressor and an exhaust gas turbocharger. The 48 V on-board electrical system works in conjunction with the new 3.0-liter, biturbo inline-six engine, giving a combined output of 435 PS and 520 Nm of torque. EQ Boost can also provide an additional 22 PS and 250 Nm of torque when needed. With this arrangement, Mercedes-AMG claims fuel consumption figures of up to 12 kilometers per liter in mixed driving.

Besides more power, AMG did tweaks to the underchassis to further enhance handling. All 53 series models come with AMG-tuned air suspension and it comes in three settings, namely Comfort, Sport and Sport +. The automaker also gave each car a unique front axle that is exclusive to this model line. Also re-engineered is the steering system, which comes with variable speed sensing modes. Brakes are also larger when compared to non-AMG variants.

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