The 2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe is a distinctively-styled two-door performance model that surrounds drivers with plenty of technology and feature content for a finely tuned driving experience. Drivers benefit from a striking cockpit overflowing with detailed touches that fully support the price tag – though the AMG E53’s electrified new engine is the real star of the show.
At a glance, the AMG E53 Coupe seems the visual opposite of most of its competitors. Designers favoured smooth, flowing accents, steering clear of hard-edge cuts and slashes of so many competitors. The resulting appearance is clean, tidy, elegant, and – more importantly – unique.
Closer inspection of the E53’s appearance is rewarded by numerous subtle details, and shoppers after something that looks unquestionably high-end, but without being overdone or flashy, will like what’s going on. Don’t miss the quad-pipe exhaust tips, or high-performance braking components peeking out from behind the machined wheels. These are tastefully restrained indications of the E53’s performance capabilities.
On board, the expert deployment of gloss, aluminum, carbon fibre, stitching, leather, and high-resolution interfaces helps create a high-tech, high-luxury atmosphere. Like the body, much of the interior avoids hard edges, favouring a softer and more natural appearance. The cabin sees leather and aluminum flow like water, and numerous distinctive styling elements help set things off. Strategic ambient lighting pipes ignite the interior atmosphere after dark, too. Here’s a cabin that’s likely to wow owners and passengers on each visit, for years to come.
Useful safety feature content is fitted in abundance. Your writer’s favourites included the high-resolution, around-view parking camera system, and the potent LED multi-beam headlight system, which actively saturates unlit roadways with clean white light, via a beam pattern that can self-adjust for optimal illumination in a range of conditions.
A full compliment of hazard-detection systems, including pre-collision alert and blind spot monitoring, are also on board. Various autonomous functionalities help drivers steer and change lanes more safely, too. Powerful brakes, and predictable and drama-free handling (even in emergency situations) help round out the safety touches.
All electronic safety systems can be turned on and off to taste with ease – allowing drivers to quickly engage or disengage their preferred level of assisted driving.
As a two-door coupe, practicality is not the focus of the E53 – though it’s capable of handling a wide-range of everyday tasks with ease, depending on the situation.
Up front, there’s room to spare for two adults of average or larger size. Seats are relatively easy to board and exit, and there’s decent nearby storage space for smaller items.
Rear seats are accessed via an easy-to-use power-slide function that moves the front seats out of the way – though the low roof may complicate the entry of adult passengers to the second row. Once seated, average-sized adults will find enough room in each dimension, but only just.
Further, the trunk is wide but relatively shallow, and the opening is thin. The E53’s trunk, therefore, will accept a heavy load of groceries or shopping with relative ease, though larger items like camping coolers or small pieces of furniture may pose an issue.
User Friendliness: 7/10
Some of the controls and interfaces in the E53 may require first-time Mercedes owners to invest a few hours of use, before their operation becomes second nature.
For instance, the central command interface is manipulated via a track-pad and dial on the centre console. This assembly enables access to hundreds of functions with just a few millimetres of fingertip movement – though the control console does block the view of some nearby hard-buttons from the driver’s seat.
The gear shift selector is also mounted where most other cars keep their wiper stalk – so be careful not to accidentally shift into reverse or park, while you’re trying to clean the windscreen (which could be bad news for the transmission).
Finally, the placement of various seat controls onto the panel of the corresponding door is handy, but may take a little getting used to.
Conversely, those coming to an AMG E53 from another recent Mercedes product will likely feel at home very quickly.
The central command system is complex and fully-featured, though graphics, menu structure layout and overall navigation through the system are fairly straightforward and easily learned.
Many safety systems can be toggled via a centralized control console, to the left of the steering wheel. A handy on-screen infographic can also be summoned to clearly illustrate which of these is active.
All said, after a few days practice, little about interfacing with the E53 will cause you any stress.
As expected of a high-end performance coupe, feature content is abundant and comprehensive. All mandatory content at this price-point is covered nicely – including climate-controlled leather, a power trunk closer, a potent premium stereo, and a full selection of automatic, self-activating features including lights, wipers, high-beams, and more.
The E53 even includes various ‘energizing comfort’ settings, deployable via the climate control menu, to help enhance driver comfort. One mode, for instance, occasionally blasts an intensely-chilled breeze from the climate control (and seats!), in conjunction with a built-in air freshener and ionizer. The effect is enhanced by the strategic use of colour-changing interior accent lighting.
That’s just one example of several features designed to wow and awe owners on the daily.
The AMG E53 is powered by a unique new engine fitted with new electrification technology that will likely trickle down to more mainstream cars before very long.
The new turbocharged straight-six engine boasts three litres of displacement, with output rated at 429 horsepower, and 384 pound-feet of torque. To this, the new 48-volt electrification system turns the straight-six into its own power station – generating its own electricity as you drive it around. This gets stored in a dedicated battery for future use in a variety of unique ways.
Stored electricity can be used to add a boost of 29 hp to the engine’s efforts, using no additional fuel. Electricity can also be used to enhance throttle response at low revs, boost torque output across the rev range, and even pre-pressurize the intake tract via an auxiliary compressor that fills in when the exhaust-driven turbocharger isn’t yet up to speed. Also, with no conventional starter motor, the fuel-saving auto-stop/start system works more quickly and smoothly than most.
This all makes for a more responsive and refined powerplant – not to mention one that’s relatively easy on fuel, given its capability. It’s complicated stuff, but it’s all handled by the on-board computer.
Translation? There’s nothing additional for the driver to do. In fact, most will hardly even know anything unusual is happening – which is, of course, the point. Don’t miss the unique start-up sound, which sees the exhaust note ooze into existence, without the sound of a conventional starter motor.
Notably, the E53’s electric guts, which include the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) system, are not add-ons to an existing engine; instead, the new powerplant is built entirely around electrification.
Performance is thrilling. Look for 0–100 km/h in about 4.4 seconds, rich reserves of seemingly endless torque, and a beautiful straight-six howl from the quad pipes out back, interrupted only for the occasional blink as the AMG Speedshift transmission hammers through nine forward gears with millisecond precision, never missing a beat.
In most situations, and especially in sportier drive modes, the powertrain responds dramatically to what drivers ask, with near-prescient immediacy. Here’s a hybrid-propelled AMG that puts on the sort of memorable performance that AMG drivers expect.
Comfort goes next-level in the E53, in various ways. For instance, motorized levers pass you your seatbelt once you’re seated, reducing the rearward reach required to access them. Seats are supportive and nicely bolstered, but remain soft and inviting – not stiff and constraining. Gears shift with a miniscule tap of the lever. Hundreds of other functions are manipulated with just a tiny tap or press. Translation? Most of your interactions with the E53 are all but effortless.
Relatively low highway noise levels and decent outward sightlines help add a layer of calm comfort to long-distance drives, too. Further, it’s nearly impossible to find anything on board that isn’t pleasing to both the eyes and fingertips.
In terms of occupying or interfacing with the cabin, there’s nothing notable to detract from comfort – though taller occupants may wish for more headroom up front, and more legroom in back.
During your writer’s test drive, the best expression of the E53’s comfort capability was apparent during after-dark drives on empty roadways. Here, the soft glow of the ambient lighting sets off the cabin with strategic accenting of various design elements, with the high-resolution, all-digital instruments proving easy to read from a glance. Add in the comfortable seats, and the potent lighting and stereo systems, and you’re nicely supported for laid-back cruising from a cabin that’s comfortable, and that feels and looks unquestionably high-end.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The most impressive aspect of the E53’s driving feel is its flexibility. In more comfort-oriented drive modes, the car is relatively relaxed, quiet, peaceful, and intentionally softens various driver inputs to the benefit of comfort and fuel efficiency. Set up thus, it’s a worthy long-haul tourer.
Sportier drive modes can be summoned with a tap on the console-mounted toggle, and the changeover is immediate. Shocks, steering, and throttle response all go into sports-car mode, and the E53 feels sharper, more instantaneous, and more eager. Attentive drivers will actually feel the car tense up beneath them. Another button press opens some baffles in the mufflers, dramatically increasing the volume of the exhaust sound audible from within the cabin.
Further tweaking allows drivers to set up their own individual drive mode, dialling in various sub-system calibrations to taste. All said, you are the boss of the AMG E53.
Steering feels nicely calibrated towards each mode: cruising in Comfort, it’s light and easygoing, despite adhering the car nicely to its position between the lines. In sportier settings, the steering is faster and heavier – but not so heavy that it feels labour-intensive. Many drivers will find the steering in sportier drive modes to feel mischievous: that is, encouraging them to have a little fun (or a lot).
Brake pedal feel isn’t the most precise in the segment, though this prevents them feeling too “touchy” in more laid-back driving. Braking performance, however, is near-startling: stand on the left pedal, and you’ll wonder if your back is still touching the seat, and, whether you’ll go right through the seatbelt – though even emergency stops are handled with composure. Specifically, that’s because the E53 all but resists the temptation to nose dive, and because the action of the ABS system is nearly imperceptible at the pedal.
Even driven severely, the E53 never feels out of its comfort zone. Just watch out for rougher roads: the high-tech suspension helps maintain ride quality at high levels, but can only do so much. Rougher in-town roads often coaxed more harshness and noise from the ride than I like at this price-point, and the low-profile sports tires can allow many an impact to transmit, unfiltered, directly into the cabin.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
You might consider the electrification of the new AMG E53 to be more about enhancing performance than saving fuel – though it does do both.
On one hand, you get more power, more torque, and more response, with a respectable fuel bill for its output. To compare, BMW M3, with comparable performance figures, uses over a litre more fuel per 100 km, in certain driving. Your results will vary – if driven as intended, the AMG E53 will still chug gasoline like nobody’s business.
The gist? Unless you’re a die-hard lead-foot, the technology on offer here will see you using less fuel, more of the time, while enhancing performance all the while.
With pricing from the mid-high $80,000 range and an as-configured ask of about $100,000, E53 is surrounded in its marketplace by numerous highly compelling alternatives – depending on what the shopper desires. For similar money, numerous faster, bigger, prettier, and even fully-electric machines are accessible.
It’s always nice to have choices – and this will be a good one for the shopper after relatively fuel-efficient thrills, world-class luxury and technology, an elegant body, and a cabin that fully supports the asking price.
Your writer has been reporting on a lot of new electrified cars lately, and many more are coming. Safe to say, I’ve been enjoying this whole electrification thing so far – primarily (and maybe especially here), because of how automakers are using the latest in hybrid technology to turn in better performance, and better fuel mileage, with no compromise. Sounds win-win to me.
|Peak Horsepower||429 hp|
|Peak Torque||384 lb-ft @ 1,800–5,800 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.3/8.5/10.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||425 L|
|Model Tested||2019 Mercedes-AMG E 53 4Matic+ Coupe|
|Price as Tested||$105,045|
$16,250 – AMG Driver’s Package $1,900; AMG Night Package $850; Intelligent Drive Package $2,700; Comfort Package $700; Premium Package $6,200; Lighting Package $1,000; Head Up Display $1,500; 360 Camera $650; Metal Weave Trim $250; 20-inch AMG wheels $500