What is it?
‘Performance derivative’ is a much-abused automotive term. Which is probably why BMW’s M division, Audi’s Quattro and Mercedes’s AMG arm are all listed as independent companies, underling their collective seriousness of purpose.
The new CLS 63 AMG is a case in point. It receives a bespoke engine and transmission, a new front axle, substantially modified suspension and steering systems as well a unique damping system.
The extensive styling changes inside and out are literally the icing on a seriously re-engineered cake. And AMG engineers have put over one million test kilometres into both the engine and the finished car.
It gets the company’s new M157 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 engine which replaces AMG’s old 6.3-litre naturally-aspirated V8. The M157 (like all AMG motors, assembled by a single engineer) is more powerful, torquier and an amazing 32 per cent more economical than the outgoing engine. AMG has also developed its own ‘Speedshift MCT’ 7-speed transmission, which ditches a conventional - and laggy - torque convertor for a much more direct-feeling ‘wet start-up clutch’ which runs in a oil bath.
One of the most important aspects of the CLS’s development lies in the huge efforts that the company has put into the new electromechanical steering system. The 14:1 ratio is 22 percent quicker than the standard CLS, its is said to be extremely rigidly mounted and its control unit takes information from a wide range of sensors (including lateral acceleration and under and oversteer characteristics) to calculate the forces it feeds back to the wheel rim.