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2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 4Matic+ Coupe – Car Review – New boss, not like the old boss

2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 4Matic+ Coupe – Car Review – New boss, not like the old boss

For as long as I can remember the AMG E55 badge has been regarded as one of the mighty kings of the jungle, only to be surpassed by – but never overshadowed by – the AMG E63 badge. Engines so big with numbers so mind-boggling, it made car enthusiasts weak at the knees. Oh and don’t forget the sound, a sound so loud it’s like Thor himself called down the Bi-frost to transporting him away. The E55 and E63 was never something to mess with.

Times have changed, and the manufacturers are in a race to the economic finish line. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a discussion for another time. How this can change final products is what we are focused on. The 2019 E-Class Coupe line-up comes with two different engine options, a 4-cylinder and a 6-cylinder. They no longer offer the big hungry V8’s for E-Class Coupe in New Zealand.

I was keen to find out what effect this might have to mighty E-Class AMG Coupe. 

The Range

The range available in New Zealand have 4 variants: E200 ($104,400), E300 ($124,700), E450 4Matic ($157,700) and the AMG E53 4Matic+ ($181,300).

Oddly the range only features two engines, a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder and a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder. That’s right – there is no longer a V8 option for the E class range, not even for the mighty AMG. 

As it’s an E-Class the standard equipment range is very high. Starting with the E200, it features the follinging: Leather upholstery, AMG sports pedals, COMAND online infotainment system, fast hard-disc navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone and internet compatibility, electrically operated park brake, memory function with 3 settings for all front seats, SPEEDTRONIC variable speed limiter, sports seats with horizontal quilting, sports steering wheel, steering wheel shift paddles, THERMATIC dual-zone automatic climate control, widescreen cockpit, 19-inch 5 twin-spoke alloy wheels, AGILITY CONTROL suspension with selective damping system and lowered, AGILITY SELECT with five driving programs, AMG bodystyling, KEYLESS-GO package, direct-Steer speed sensitive steering, ECO start/stop function, parking package with active parking assist, 360° camera, active bonnet, ADAPTIVE BRAKE with HOLD, 9 airbags, acceleration skid control, anti-lock braking system, brake assist system, driving assistance package plus, electronic immobiliser, and electronic stability program.

The E300 does not have a big list of additional options on top what the E200 comes with. The E300 features the following standard options: heated front seats, 20-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels, AIR BODY CONTROL Air Suspension, MULTIBEAM LED with 84 individually controllable LEDs, adaptive highbeam assist plus and tail lights featuring LED technology, and sports exhaust system.

The E450 has the following standard features, Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers, 9-channel DSP amplifier & 590-watt output, head-up display with virtual image windscreen projection, wireless charging system for mobile devices, metallic paintwork, panoramic glass sunroof with roller sunblind & heat-insulating glass and dark-tinted privacy glass from b-pillar to rear.

The AMG E53 comes standard with the following features, AIR-BALANCE including ionisation, ENERGIZING comfort control, Nappa upholstery, AMG performance steering wheel, AMG 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, AMG 20-inch 5 twin-spoke silver / black alloy wheels, AMG Night package, AMG spoiler lip on boot lid, AMG performance exhaust system and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

There’s a huge amount of different options to up-spec the AMG E53 – which can be found at Mercedes-Benz New Zealand website here – LINK

First Impressions

Much like the E300 Cabriolet we tested last year, the E53 AMG is a striking vehicle. Being that it’s an AMG is also looks like it’s flexing its muscles ready for action. It’s also black like the one before, which works well for its shape. I like the strong front shape, sleek sidelines, but thought the rear end was a bit to subtle.

It had all the right parts for a performance vehicle, big wide tyres, big brakes and two big exhausts. I was really looking forward to the experience behind the wheel and to understand the new direction Mercedes-Benz are trying out.

The Inside

Inside the E53 it’s all luxury, plain and simple. High-quality sports seats with multiple adjustments and memory settings available, it was no time at all until I became comfortable in the driver’s seat. There was not one single thing I could fault about the inside of the E53, it is a stunning place to be. 

The back seats looked a bit tight, I did jump in, but could not put the seat back into my driving position. I am tall, most under 6ft might not have as much an issue with this. I see it as good usable space for kids, however it looked a bit cramped for adults.

The dash was finished in my favourite: black ash with an open pore satin-like quality. It looked and felt like real wood, which raised the cabin’s level of luxury. There were some cool art deco like air vents. For something that can be so simple, they really went all the way with the design.

Above the dash were two 12.3-inch widescreen displays: One for the driver that displayed all of the relevant driving information and the other was the central media display screen. This system started out in the S-Class and has been working its way down the models, it was impressive, and everyone who saw it was left drooling over it.

The driver’s display is great and comes with a lot of customizable options. This had the RPM gauge and speed in the centre of the screen, on the left it displayed the nav and on the right, it showed some driver’s information.

The central media screen offered the typical menus and features seen in most of the Mercedes models, with access to nav, media, phone, vehicle settings and profiles, and a digital manual. Everything was super easy to navigate, either form the twist dial in the central console or the new touch-sensitive swipe buttons on the steering wheel.

The boot was a good size too at 425 litres, which is a decent and in line with other vehicles of its class. The back seats fold down, which allows for a larger, more flexible loading space.

The Drive

In all of our performance reviews, we try to break it down into two main segments, the daily drive and the performance drive. Some cars can do both well, while others can do one or the other. 

The AMG E53 is a great daily driver; so refined, so comfortable, so easy to live with. Once in the driver’s seat, everything feels natural, steering is light and easy, yet very responsive. I always had a good level of feedback and awareness to where the wheels were pointing. The array of onboard tech is great, from the information displayed across the two widescreen dash screen to the huge list of safety features.

The 3.0-litre engine produces 320kw of power and 520Nm of torque. Not the number we are used to seeing with many of the AMG models available. It feels like the wrong size, but it could just be a more refined option for the AMG range. This engine also features new engine technology called EQ Boost. The engine could be referred to a mild hybrid system which incorporates a powerful integrated electric starter motor/generator providing an acceleration boost while the conventional turbo spins up. This means that much like an electric motor, you get instant performance when you ask for it. This engine technology is great, however, I feel it’s something more like the previous E500, not a new AMG.

The sound is another area where AMG has always been on point. Due to the engine size, the noise has changed from that knee trembling V8 to a hot hatch pop and crackle. It sounds good and many will like it, but I personally feel the sound is not right for this class of vehicle. It needs to be bigger, deeper, louder. Again more signs that it’s pushing some models to be more refined, not raw.

In Sport Plus mode the E53 feels a lot sharper and right on the edge of anticipation. It’s ready to go at a feather-like touch of the throttle. When you push on that go button, the car pushes forward at an impressive rate. 0-100kmph is reached in 4.4 seconds. This car is fast, not eye-watering, but still fast. Just as fast as my 10-year-old Audi RS6, the only difference being that it’s much more economical. And in the market where SUV’s are doing sub 5 second times to 100km/h, the E53 was starting to feel more posh than aggressive. 

The overall handling of the E53 was on point, steering was effortless, direct and accurate. Paired with such a good suspension system, placing it anywhere on the road felt like second nature. The steering felt even faster and tighter in Sport Plus mode, really giving you that connected to the road feeling. 

The brakes were just right, much like every AMG we have tested before, the right amount of feel and control. Whether it be for a small correction or a full-on emergency spot, I always felt confident in this car. 

If the AMG badge stands for raw performance, this AMG E53 seems to drop the ball. But in saying that, if you want an AMG and you don’t want raw, what options do you have. 

Remembering this is a $182,000 performance vehicle, it’s exciting but not mind-blowing. If I was to compare it to the previous generation, it’s more in line with the older E500. Good package, decent power, nice sound. For many this will be a nice package. Nice is what your mum says when you tell her how much power your car has and have fast it is. Nice just doesn’t cut it for me when you have an AMG badge. Call me old fashioned, but I like AMGs to be powerful, as scary as Donald Trump, and just as loud.

But that may not be for everyone, this more refined Obama like version of the E-Class coupe is less work to live with than the older models.  

The Competition – Large Performance 4-door Sedans/Coupes

The large luxury coupe market is not a big one. In fact, the performance coupe market is rather stretched in the $100k to $200k bracket – a market where Mercedes-Benz and the AMG badge could stand tall above the crowd. Right now Audi is not selling the RS5, as they have a new updated model on the way. Lexus has the RC F Carbon, which is one of my personal favourite cars, amazing V8 sound and such an exhilarating ride.

Speaking of V8 sounds, the C63 S Coupe has one and it’s $10k cheaper than the E53.  

Brand/ModelEnginePower/Torque0-100km/h, secondsFuel, L/100kmBoot Space, LitresPrice Highest to Lowest
Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Coupe3.0L straight 6 Twin Turbo320 / 5206.64.4425$181,300
Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63 S Coupe4.0L V8 Twin Turbo375 / 7003.910.3380$173,200
BMW M4 Coupe3.0L straight 6 TwinPower Turbo331 / 5504.08.3445$172,700
Lexus RC F Carbon5.0L V8351 / 5304.510.9370$172,500

The pros and cons

ProsCons
  • Strong sleek design, front and side
  • Looks like a powerful performance car
  • Luxury modern interior
  • Great technology, lots of toys
  • A huge amount of customisation 
  • Great daily driver
  • Scary AMG performance, where are you?
  • Stright 6 engine lacks the excitement AMG should offer in this price range
  • Engine noise not enough for the calibre of vehicle
  • Rear end design, a bit dull compared to the front
  • Rear seats become useless with tall driver and front passenger

What we think

I find myself at an impasse with the AMG E53 Coupe. If it was not for that AMG badge, this car would be a great luxury cruiser, packed with all the latest mod cons. I loved it as a daily driver, so nice and feature packed. However, it does have that AMG badge, but it feels like it shouldn’t. To sum it up, every time I told someone I was currently testing the E53 AMG Coupe and that its a stright 6, their answer was “Oh that sucks”.

I like AMG’s to make you think twice about doing something stupid, they should feel dangerous and exciting. Every AMG I have tested to date, bar this E53 has lived up to that expectation. Times are changing and there must be a market for these more refined models. As the flagship AMG E class coupe, the E53 is a bit placid compared to what is available in today’s performance coupe marketplace. The AMG E53 does not have the soul or seat of your pants factor that I would look for and that the previous generation of AMG’s has had.  

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great car, lovely to drive, luxury comfort and build quality. If this has been the E500, it would probably get a 5 chevron rating. But for me that AMG badge combined with its high price tag, sets certain expectations, that I feel have not been met. If I had to make this decision, I would just buy the AMG C63 S Coupe, as it’s more car for less money. 

Let’s just hope they don’t like to hold on to this new boss for long and bring back the old V8 boss for those who want something a bit extreme.

Rating – Chevron rating (3.5 out of 5)

drivelife-car-review-chevrons-three-and-half

2018 Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet

Vehicle TypeLuxury Convertible Coupe
Starting Price$181,300 plus on-road costs
Tested Price$181,300
Engine3.0-litrel straight 6 cylinder, EQ-Boost
Power Kw / Torque Nm320 / 520
Transmission9G-TRONIC transmission
0 – 100 kph, seconds4.4
Spare WheelSpace saver 
Kerb Weight, Kg1970
Length x Width x Height, mm4826 x 1860 x 1428
Fuel Tank, litres66
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  8.8L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  12.5L / 100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

TowingN/A
Turning circle11.37

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty3-year warranty
ANCAP Rating5 Stars

It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.

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2 Comments

  1. jerry daniels
    11th July 2019 at 5:09 am Reply

    good article and i thought very accurate – but the piece i think you pros miss is as someone who wants to drive a high performance car daily (without worrying about weather or if not my right foot was a tad heavy prior to tyres being warmed up etc) then mild amg i.e. you wont try and kill me if i get it wrong…… is exactly what i want. I want to spend time and have fun with my car safe in the knowledge im not putting my passgeners in danger should i get it wrong or the weather becomes vaguely wet (i think nz and uk share much in terms of that aspect of our weather!). like having a big dog, sure he needs to bark but id rather not worry that he may turn on me. You seem to say that was what AMG owners bought into. Id never have bought into the brand if that were still the case. But i’m not a pro journalist with cars at my fingertips to pick for exactly the right occasion, my right ocacasion car needs to be ready and waiting outside, irrelevant of what the oaccasion is….so far it’s been brilliant at thousand mile trips, 155 on the autobahn and exciting over mountain passses with mutiple bends and elevations up and down. Didn’t try and kill me or my sons once. I think you’ll find this is an increasingly popular niche. Re sound as you say its not v8 but is there a better straight six and does it make you smile? Im not 25/35 any more and dont feel the need to have people look at me in my louder than yours machine. I dont want sports car hardness, impracticality and lack of compfort or lack of self driving tech but i want speed and i want to avoid crashing as im an ok driver im not a track driver…perhaps amg owners all should be or maybe they used to want ot be. Seems to me amg are keeping up with their potential new customers.
    .

    1. John Galvin (JSG)
      11th July 2019 at 6:28 pm Reply

      Hi Jerry, thanks for taking the time to give your thoughts and feedback, much appreciated. I totally agree with what you’re saying. As I mentioned it was a great car, but it was not what I would personally look for in an AMG. Mercedes-Benz has a massive range, one that you sometimes think is too big, but the market is there for all of these niches. Which goes to show they do know the market and its buyer well. I hope my review didn’t come across to negative, it’s just my 2c from an enthusiasts point of view.

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