Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the next-generation of its high-performance AMG powertrains, and along with it, a glimpse into the future of high-performance cars from the company. Dubbed the AMG 53-Series, the new drivetrain debuted on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe, AMG E 53 Cabriolet, and AMG CLS 53 four-door.

The new drivetrain technology incorporates a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine sending power through a 9-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. Using an inline-6 instead of V6 in the AMG 43-Series cars, the engine features an electrically operated auxiliary compressor to help reduce boost lag. Sandwiched between the engine and the transmission is a starter-generator that Mercedes-AMG calls EQ Boost. Under certain conditions, the EQ Boost adds additional power and torque to give an immediacy to acceleration that wouldn't be possible with just the gasoline engine alone.

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New, not throwback, technology

The new engine is a return to the inline-6 configuration for Mercedes-Benz, but this is no throwback. By itself the engine makes 429 horsepower thanks to an exceptionally clever turbocharging system. Most turbos work only on the pressure of exhaust spinning a turbine, which is connected to a compressor. This creates a delay between when the driver hits the gas, and when the turbo makes boost. The new AMG 53 seires engines use a turbo, but also use an auxiliary electric compressor that adds boost well before there's enough exhaust pressure to activate the turbo. The upshot is that Mercedes-AMG promises virtually zero turbo lag.

Also helping aid off-the-line response is the EQ Boost electric motor-alternator. Fitted between the engine and 9-speed automatic transmission, EQ Boost works in a couple of different capacities. First, it's a supplement to the drivetrain itself, adding up to 21 additional horsepower and 184 additional lb-ft of torque, with the goal of giving the 53 Series cars near-instantaneous throttle response. While the 53 Series cars never operate in a strictly EV mode, the EQ Boost does let the car roll from a stop under electric power before starting the engine, and a "glide" function will shut off the engine at light throttle under certain conditions. This is in addition to the usual hybrid jobs of start-stop and energy recuperation.

No drive belts

Interestingly, the EQ Boost is also the sole generator of electricity in the AMG 53-Series cars, meaning even the 12-volt accessory functions--audio system, windows and lights, and so on--operate through a DC/DC converter. Since there's no 12-volt alternator, and the car uses electricity for air conditioning, power steering and even the water pump, there are no drive belts affixed to the front of the 6-cylinder engine, shortening it considerably.

The new engine is paired with the AMG Speedshift TCT 9-speed automatic transmission we've already enjoyed in many of the company's 43-Series AMG models. The transmission sends power to all four wheels using an AMG-optimized version of Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel drive system. Drivers can choose from one of five Dynamic Select modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ or the programmable Individual setting. Additionally, the Dynamic Select modes also control the firmness of the air suspension.

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AMG CLS 53, E53 Coupe, E 53 Convertible

This new drivetrain debuts on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53, the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe, and the Mercedes-AMG E53 Convertible. All three have distinguishing features, such as twin-blade elements in the grille, and an "A-wing" design to the front bumper, along with a unique split 5-spoke wheel design. The CLS is already a style leader, and the new AMG CLS 53 takes it all a step further, with a much more aggressive look and stance. Inside all the vehicles is the "glass cockpit" we've seen in so many other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, with two 12.3-inch LCD displays behind a single wide-screen sheet of glass. The look is fully customizable, with Classic, Sporty and Progressive options, and the ability to show multiple engine readouts.

CLS 53 Edition 1

When the CLS 53 launches in late 2018, an Edition 1 will be available to a lucky few. The interior boasts copper highlights, and black Nappa leather with copper contrast stitching which is also used on the instrument panel, door panels, piping, and elsewhere. Edition 1 models also get carbon fiber and copper stitching on the center console and steering wheel, along with an Edition badge and other touches.

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