Mercedes-AMG CLE 53 cabriolet guns for BMW M440i

2 weeks, 6 days ago - 7 May 2024, autocar
Mercedes-AMG CLE 53 cabriolet guns for BMW M440i
New drop-top gets 442bhp, bespoke AMG styling upgrades and performance-led chassis tweaks

The new Mercedes-AMG CLE 53 cabriolet has been revealed as the Affalterbach performance division’s entry-level drop-top. It is aimed squarely at the BMW M440i and packs 442bhp, more aggressive styling and a series of performance-focused chassis upgrades.

Arriving as the latest model from Mercedes’ AMG division to be given a mild-hybrid powertrain – joining the A45, C43, and GT 53 4-Door Coupé - it uses the same 'M256’ 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six as the E53 saloon, with the addition of a 48V starter-generator.

This provides 442bhp and 413lb ft, but torque can be increased 442lb ft for 10sec periods when the driver selects the car's overboost function.

The car covers 0-62mph in 4.2sec – quicker than both the BMW M440i and Ford Mustang GT – and its top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. This can be raised to 174mph as part of an optional AMG performance package.

The engine's power is distributed via a torque-vectoring four-wheel drive system and nine-speed gearbox. The transmission itself comes with a double-declutch function and is said to have "zero lag" when shifting no matter which drive mode is selected.

While the engine is broadly the same as the preceding unit used in the E53 cabriolet, its internals have been uprated with materials such as aluminium and zirconium, used for lightness and better heat management, as well as “improved performance and stability even at the edge of the envelope", according to its maker. 

The twin-scroll turbochargers have been beefed up with a pressure-boosting electric compressor that produces 39lb ft of additional torque in 10sec bursts. A separate electric compressor also works to improve both off-the-line performance and low-down response.

The cabriolet has also been given a raft of styling upgrades to match its AMG billing. Its flared front wheel arches accommodate a front track that's 58mm wider than the standard CLE's and there is an AMG-specific front grille, deeper front and rear bumpers, enlarged air intakes, quad exhausts and new alloy wheel designs – available in 19in or 20in sizes.

Elsewhere, the car gets rear-wheel steering as standard, twin-chamber dampers configured to minimise body roll and larger brakes. An optional AMG performance package adds red brake calipers, a drift mode, a ‘race start’ function that lowers the 0-62mph time to 4.2sec, and specialised engine mounts for smoother performance. 

Specific to the cabriolet, the driver can configure the car with Mercedes' Aircap system, which uses a wind deflector to direct airflow away from the heads of the driver and passenger.

The fabric roof can be raised or lowered in 20sec, and the car's leather-trimmed seats come with a coating that's said to keep them 12deg C cooler than its untreated equivalent when in direct sunlight. As with the SL, it receives an 11.9in touchscreen, which can be adjusted between 12deg and 32deg of inclination from the vertical.

Mercedes has remained tight-lipped on pricing, but the coupé starts from £72,990 and we expect the cabriolet to command a premium of around £5000.

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