The AMG E53 Coupe presents big coupe looks with subtle hints at the significant performance enhancements that lie underneath. It’s got power, grace, and a heavy dose of premium technology all wrapped in a package that is undeniably Mercedes-Benz.
In every setting, the AMG E53’s presence is unmistakable. Its smooth body sides, long curves, high shoulders, and precise details all speak the same big coupe design language. That’s furthered by the lack of a B-pillar which leaves the side window open area completely uninterrupted. The long dash-to-front axle ratio and rearward cabin position present a naturally balanced stance while the AMG-unique bumpers, hood, and quad exhaust outlets deliver a clear message that this is the sporty version of the lot.
A similar message is set forth by the interior where luxury and sport clearly integrate the latest technology. Anyone familiar with the other E-class models will immediately recognize the dual 12.3-inch displays that provide a wealth of information. So much so, that it’s certainly worth a dedicated hour to learn all that the system has to offer and to set your personal preferences.
One of the most obvious AMG-specific interior touches is the new four-bar sport steering wheel. As futuristic as it looks, its usefulness is also a bit ahead of its time. The touch-sensitive controls make the most of the limited real estate, however, they require a concentrated effort to ensure proper thumb placement and precise swipe motion which never quite feels natural. The rest of the steering wheel delivers an engaging driving experience with a thick rim and two digital dials that allow for fast powertrain and chassis setting changes. Those may seem gimmicky at first, but I found myself optimizing the car’s settings more often for various driving situations than I would have otherwise with just the controls on the center console – even though they are easy to locate.
The sport seats are heavily bolstered for good support when hustling through winding roads and there’s also enough adjustability and support to still feel fresh even after a few hours on the road. Adding to the comfort and low-stress levels of regular commuting and long-distance driving is the $1,700 optional Driver Assist package. It might seem expensive considering many manufacturers include adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist features as standard equipment, but this is next-level technology and it inspires a level of confidence that few other systems can match.
Taking things into your own hands, however, is when the AMG gets to show off its sporty talents. The 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine is not just tuned for more power but it’s also been thoroughly reworked for better response. When launching from a stop an integrated motor that is bolted to the crankshaft, churns 162 lb-ft of torque at a moment’s notice, and 0.3 seconds later, an electric supercharger is already providing 6.6 psi of boost while it spins at 70,000 rpm. That allows enough time for the larger exhaust-driven turbocharger to spool up and pack 29 psi into the cylinders. Despite the complexity of bringing each system together, the result is an incredibly linear power curve from idle to redline. On paper, the power unit achieves 429 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 384 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,800 rpm, however, that hardly speaks to the satisfying quick reaction at any speed – something lost during this turbocharged-power era. Running up to redline delivers a satisfying shove forward and a tingling exhaust note while the AMG nine-speed torque-converter transmission fires off fast and very firm upshifts.
That exceptional performance is largely made possible by the E-class’ powerful 48-volt electrical system which also has a starring role on the efficiency front. A 1kWh battery supports extended engine-off periods (with full air-conditioning power because the compressor is now electrically driven), extremely quick engine restarts, coasting with the engine off, and even a very leisurely, but smooth, 500-rpm idle speed. The EPA’s rating of 24 mpg combined was easily achieved despite stretches of hard driving and heavy commuting traffic.
The extent of AMG’s handiwork doesn’t end with the engine. The rear-wheel-biased all-wheel-drive system constantly adjusts the power between the front and rear axles to benefit the car’s balance and traction while the adaptive air-suspension system is dialed in to deliver athletic handling without losing its ability to provide a serene ride.
Stepping away from the Mercedes, its lasting impressions solidify. This car is the real deal. Its luxurious looks are matched by an equally luxurious interior; Its subtle hints of power are fully endorsed by a drivetrain that not only delivers a sporting thrill but does so with grace and surprising efficiency and the athletic chassis provides a platform that can eat up highway miles while also delivering grins as it accurately takes one apex after another. This car’s $86,000 price tag is nothing to scoff at, however, its design and engineering successes have formed one of the most fulfilling vehicles available. It will not leave you disappointed.