A great deal of work has gone on beneath the CLE 53’s body, too. Much of which hits the mark, with one sizeable component that doesn’t. That’s where we’ll start, because the 3.0-litre straight-six engine is the car’s Achilles’ heel. 

It’s based on the same unit fitted to the regular CLE 450, with AMG redesigning the inlet and outlet channels in the combustion chambers, fitting new piston rings and a new exhaust gas turbocharger that allows for an increase in boost pressure from 0.4 to 1.5 bar. It has the optimised fuel injection system, too.

Combined with a mild-hybrid system, the numbers are not insignificant. Peak power is rated at 449bhp, and torque stands at 600Nm with overboost deployed. 

Despite this detailed work, it’s an engine that feels less than the sum of its parts. The throttle response is languid in both Comfort and Sport mode, and even when you twist the rotary control mounted on the base of the steering wheel to Sport+ (or even Race – only available with the AMG Dynamic Plus package) the engine’s responses lack the expected AMG spark. It’s slow to rev and, as such, gaining momentum seems to take longer than you’d expect; despite a claimed 0-62mph time of four seconds, it never feels alive nor exciting. And certainly nowhere near your expectations of an AMG engine.

However, what AMG has achieved is the creation of a very precise and unexpectedly detailed chassis that provides the CLE 53 with a platform to behave more like a performance car. At high speeds it can feel flat and uninvolving, prioritising grip and a neutral balance to suit a broader spectrum of drivers. Its variable 4MATIC+ four-wheel drive system remains neutral, the steel springs and sport-oriented damper settings provide reassuring levels of stability; the CLE 53 feels resolutely pinned to the road surface.

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