by Gerhard Horn
To understand the existence of the Mercedes-AMG E53 sedan, we need to take you back to 2003 and the introduction of the E55 sedan. AMG had done some work with Mercedes before, but the E55 was a real headline-grabber. It had a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 producing 469 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, which made it more powerful than the 996 Porsche 911 Turbo of the time. Mercedes wanted a slice of the performance sedan pie - badly. Enough to take a stick of dynamite to a sledgehammer battle.
Enter the horsepower wars. BMW hit back with the now-iconic E60 M5, taking the segment into the 500-hp league. These days, you need more than 600 hp just to enter the competition. It's getting slightly out of hand, really. The point is, the current big-boy E63 S is a lot of car. Too much for some, in fact. That's why Mercedes-Benz had to introduce a series of AMG models sitting between the standard range and the mighty full-fat AMG models. The same thinking applies to the Audi S6 and the BMW M550i xDrive, both of which are positioned below their RS6 Avant/M5 big brothers. Don't think for a second that these models are for the weak and feeble, however. The Mercedes-AMG E53 is equipped with a turbocharged inline-six with mild-hybrid assist producing 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, sufficient for a 0-60 time of under 4.5 seconds. It looks good, has a beautiful interior, and possesses a sleeper car demeanor that will suit a more unassuming clientele.
The 2021 AMG E53 mostly carries over to the 2022 model year. The only differences are the addition of new standard equipment, these being a heated steering wheel and Adaptive Highbeam Assist, both of which were extra-cost options at $250 a pop last year. Finally, there is a new paint color - Nautical Blue Metallic. These changes come with a price increase to $75,000 - $1,100 up on last year's model.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG E53 4MATIC Sedan||
3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas
The E53 underwent the same facelift as the rest of the E-Class clan last year. It received new headlights and taillights styled to fit in with the German brand's new design language. LED lighting is standard at both ends of the E53. Design elements unique to the E53 compared to non-AMG models include the Panamericana grille and lower bumper with blacked-out air inlets. At the rear, it has a subtle spoiler and blacked-out, rounded quad exhaust pipes. A set of 19-inch alloy wheels is standard, but there is an excellent selection of 20-inch AMG wheels available. A power sunroof is standard, but you can opt for the optional Panorama roof for even more sunlight.
The 4-door E-Class is a generously sized luxury sedan that slots perfectly into its segment. The wheelbase is an impressive 115.7 inches, while the overall body length is 195.2 inches. It's 57 inches tall and 81.3 inches wide with the mirrors included. The E53 weighs 4,341 pounds. Thanks to the potent power delivery of the turbocharged inline-six, the weight is hidden well.
The AMG E53's color palette is 12 colors strong. Black and Polar White are free of charge. Metallic hues cost $720, and the selection consists of Obsidian Black, Graphite Grey, Mojave Silver, Lunar Blue, Cirrus Silver, Selenite Grey and, new for this year, Nautical Blue. Three designo colors are available, with the exuberant Cardinal Red being the most affordable at $1,080. Diamond White retails for $1,515, while Selenite Grey Magno in a matte finish will cost you a hefty $3,950.
These options work well with the fly-under-the-radar nature of the E53. Mercedes will also delete the rear badges for free so that you can have the ultimate sleeper in Polar White with the standard wheels. We find it particularly easy on the eye in Cardinal Red with the optional 20-inch twin five-spoke black alloy wheels, though.
The original idea behind AMG models was to provide Mercedes-like luxury with potent blunderbuss engines. Over time, the high-end AMG offerings have become more scalpel-like, leaving room for new models following the original partnership ethos. In our humble opinion, the E53 is the perfect example. Merc's turbocharged 3.0L inline-6 with mild-hybrid assistance is a brilliant piece of engineering, and it uses the 4MATIC+ system to transfer the power to all four wheels. The result is a 0-60 mph sprint time of 4.4 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. That's just over one second slower than the E63 S, though the latter will happily keep on going all the way to its electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph. As fast as the E53 is, the V8-powered BMW M550 xDrive will demolish it in a straight line; the Bimmer needs just 3.6 seconds for the benchmark sprint.
The all-wheel-drive formula has now been widely adopted in the performance sedan category. Even these AMG-lite models are equipped with the AMG-enhanced 4MATIC+ AWD system. The 53's main rivals are also both equipped with AWD. It's worth talking about the concept of peak performance at this point. Have we gone beyond the amount of power needed to have fun? The Porsche GT3 is a prime example of this concept. Its power output is relatively low compared to other high-end performance cars. Yet, if you ask any proper gearhead to fill a perfect ten-car garage, the GT3 would undoubtedly feature. The point is this: Power isn't everything. And we think the E53 is another fantastic example that proves it.
This 3.0-liter inline-six is a marvelous piece of engineering. Even the masters of six-cylinder power plants, BMW and Porsche, concede that Mercedes made a proper split-personality engine. It consists of a 3.0-liter inline-six with an electrically-powered supercharger for low-down torque. Since the supercharger relies on electricity, there's virtually zero lag. Higher up in the rev range, a turbocharger takes over. And the 21 hp/184 lb-ft electric motor, also known as EQ Boost, is also capable of filling in the inherent power gaps in any internal combustion engine.
The result is 429 hp at 6,100 rpm and 384 lb-ft available from just 1,800 rpm all the way up to 5,800 rpm. In other words, you get the full wallop of torque from just above idle. Once again, it's about balance. When it comes to luxury motoring, low-down torque is preferred. It makes for effortless forward progress without mashing the throttle into the carpet. Peak power is delivered at 6,100 rpm, though it will spin to around 6,500 rpm before a shift is required. This is the other more exciting personality tied to this powertrain. While not as vocal as an AMG V8, the E53 comes with a pleasing six-cylinder soundtrack with its own cracks and burbles.
Power is delivered to the 4MATIC+ system via a nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic. Shifts are smooth and hardly noticeable in Slippery and Comfort mode, but it bangs through the gears in Sport and Sport+. You hardly feel the changes, but a momentary cut of the ignition system results in a pleasing bang as it shifts up. From a performance point of view, this engine and transmission combination is excellent. With maximum torque available from 1,800 rpm, you always feel like you're in the right gear. It's so torque-rich that it requires a shift in driving style when using manual mode. It's best summed up as whatever gear you were thinking, plus one.
The only odd thing about this engine is the six-cylinder noises it makes. It's strange hearing a noise associated with BMW coming out of the back of a Benz.
You don't get the E63's drift mode, but we don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. Whether it be in a Ford, BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, any drift mode should be called "I want to end up in a YouTube fail compilation" mode, but we're guessing that wouldn't fit on the screen. The E53 sedan does have an adaptive air suspension and an AMG-tuned 4MATIC+ AWD system. The latter is more dynamic than the standard 4MATIC system and won't hesitate to send a decent helping of the power to the rear axle. This isn't a track car, but you do get five driving modes courtesy of the AMG Dynamic Select system: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. You lose out on the 63's Race mode and overarching Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master settings. In short, you don't get the full shot of adrenaline. On the upside, you also don't get the overly firm suspension setup in the bigger brother.
The 2022 Mercedes-AMG E53 has enough dynamic talent to cover ground at an alarming pace. The speed-sensitive steering is accurate, and the AWD system inspires confidence. It's an excellent go-faster machine when the mood strikes. More often than not, you'll simply be commuting home, which should be a cosseting experience in something that wears the three-pointed star. This is where the E53 trounces its bigger brother. Merc's full-fat E63 S also has a Comfort setting, which should have been labeled as "Relatively Comfortable." In the E53, comfort mode does exactly what it says.
The mild-hybrid assistance has other benefits as well, including impressive frugality. According to the EPA, the E53 sedan is capable of gas mileage figures of 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined. This is a massive improvement over the E63 S and its claimed figures of 16/23/18 mpg. To adequately demonstrate the effect of hybrid assistance, we also need to compare it to the defunct and slower twin-turbo V6 E43. It produced similar power figures but was only capable of 19/25/21 mpg.
The E53 is equipped with a 21.1-gallon tank, giving it an estimated driving range of 528 miles on a single tank. This is highly impressive for a performance sedan.
Mercedes is synonymous with luxury, and the E-Class interior reflects this. The update has made the interior sleeker than ever before, though we're not big fans of the steering wheel design and the lack of an analog clock. Still, the overall quality of the interior and the large wraparound screen do make up for it. Space is ample, visibility is good, and Mercedes adds several luxury and practicality features as standard. The interior is easily on par with, if not better than, its main rivals. The only downside as far as we're concerned is the steering wheel - and not just in terms of the design. The piano black trim is prone to smudging, and it would drive us crazy trying to clean it every day. At least it gets standard heating this year.
There's ample space for four adults, and five at a push. As with most midsize sedan cars, the rear middle seat is only meant for occasional use. Front passengers get 41.7 inches of legroom and 37.5 inches of headroom. Rear passengers get 36.2 inches of legroom and 37.6 inches of headroom. The shoulder room is 57.8 inches in the front and 57.1 inches in the rear. This translates into a cabin that's exceptionally spacious for front and rear passengers. Completing a long-haul journey in this car would be a pleasure considering front seats have power adjustment and heating as standard, with ventilation and massage functions optionally available for the front occupants, and heating available for those in the back.
The standard interior upholstery is Black MB-Tex leatherette/Dinamica with red stitching. Nappa leather is a $2,990 option available in Black, Nut Brown/Black, Black/Macchiato Beige, and Black/Titanium Grey.
Most of the interior trim selections are free of charge. You can choose between Natural Grain Black Ash, Brown Ash, Natural Grain Brown Ash, and Natural Grain Grey Ash wood trims. Aluminum trim is also available free of charge in either a longitudinal or carbon grain.
The Metal Weave option retails for $600, while the designo Black Piano Lacquer with Flowing Lines costs $1,300. For the full racy effect, you can add the $2,850 AMG Carbon Fiber trim. The steering wheel can be upgraded with a Dinamica covering for $600 or in a combination of Dinamica and Nappa leather for $500. Red seat belts won't cost you anything extra but the designo black Dinamica headliner is $1,600 and also requires the Sun Protection Package for $800.
When it comes to the executive express segment, interior space takes priority over cargo capacity. None of the competitors have an impressive trunk, and the Mercedes is unfortunately below par within this segment with 13.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That's enough for most families, but packing for a weekend away will require some serious Tetris skills. The cargo capacity can be vastly increased by folding the rear seats down in a 40/20/40 split.
Interior storage is adequate rather than excellent. Front passengers get large door pockets, a center console storage bin with two cupholders, storage space underneath the center armrest, and a glove compartment. Rear passengers can fold down the middle seat, which has a shallow storage compartment and two flip-out cupholders.
The E53 comes standard with several luxury, comfort, and safety features. Practically speaking, it has remote start, connected services for three years, power-folding side mirrors, keyless go, a power trunk with hands-free access, an illuminated entry system, and a universal garage opener. To remind you that you're no longer shopping in the non-premium segment, the Merc adds power-adjustable and heated front seats with memory, dual-zone climate control, a 64-color LED ambient lighting system, a surround-view monitor, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Safety highlights include driver assistance systems like attention assist, forward collision warning with emergency braking, blind-spot assist, a surround-view camera, rear cross-traffic alert, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, and rain-sensing wipers, to name just a few. A lot of items are still left on the options menu, however. Examples of what a bigger check will get you include adaptive cruise control, active multi-contour seats with a massage function, soft-close doors, and heated rear seats.
The 2022 E-Class has the latest MBUX interface. It consists of a 12.3-inch touchscreen interface, a touchpad controller, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming, HD Radio, six months of SiriusXM, and two USB-C ports. This system plays your favorite tunes via a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system.
Thanks to MBUX and the touchscreen interface, the E53's infotainment system is easy to use. You can ignore the clunky touchpad and control everything via the screen or by speaking to the car. MBUX is at the forefront of voice-recognition functionality; to use it, you simply say, "Hey Mercedes" followed by a command. This system can do a lot more than skip a track and will even adjust the temperature if you say you're feeling a bit chilly. Once again, the options list proves inviting with items like a Burmester high-end 3D sound system with 23 speakers, augmented video for navigation, a head-up display, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz E-Class range as a whole received an underwhelming 78 out of a possible 100 points from J.D. Power for quality and reliability. The 2022 models have been recalled for a malfunctioning seat-belt locking retractor. We'd be pretty annoyed with eight recalls for the 2021 model, too. Not all recalls apply to the E53, but eight is still a pretty significant number for a car that has been in production for a while. The problems specific to the E53 sedan include a side-impact crash sensor that may loosen, a rearview camera image that may not display properly, a faulty front seat position switch, a malfunctioning seat limiter, and the inaccurate vehicle location being sent out for emergency services - a well-known bugbear affecting many Mercedes models.
To give new owners some peace of mind, every new E-Class is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile basic and powertrain warranty.
There isn't a model-specific safety review for the Mercedes-AMG E53 sedan, but the E-Class range scored the full five stars overall in all of the NHTSA review categories. The only four-star result was for the specific front driver side test. The IIHS gave the 2021 E-Class a Top Safety Pick+ award, which is the highest rating a car can achieve from the authority.
The E-Class range is stacked with safety features, and the AMG E53 is no different. It has full LED lights, rain-sensing wipers, seven airbags including a driver's knee airbag, ABS brakes, traction and stability control, and a surround-view camera system. Mercedes also includes a few basic driver assistance features, including attention assist, forward collision warning with emergency braking, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic assist, Pre Safe, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, and a parking assistant. For the latest generation of driver assistance features, you need to add the Driver Assistance Package. This package includes adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, active blind-spot assist, active lane keep assist, and lane change assist, to name just a few. You can also add rear-seat side-impact airbags for $700. An AMG head-up display is a useful upgrade and will add $1,100 to your bill.
The E53 is a well-balanced package - in other words, it does a decent impression of a four-door sports car while still offering the luxurious experience expected of a regular E-Class. Using the logical side of the brain, one might even be tempted to say that it's better than the manic E63 S. Just think of the kind of driving you do daily and how often you get to use more than 600 horses. It doesn't happen that often, and even when it does, the E53 is hardly a slouch. It's a better-balanced car than its bigger brother, which struggles to get the luxury part of the formula right. The E53 also comes with an impressive safety rating, loads of luxury and practicality, and one of the best interiors in the business. It also represents a significant saving over its bigger brother.
Still, buying a car is often an emotional purchase. The same arguments made above can be made using the standard E-Class with its turbocharged four-pot. Prestige matters, and to some, nothing but the mighty 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 will do. We'd be proud to own an E53 - it's a perfectly balanced car with enough performance to satiate our needs.
The Mercedes-AMG E53 has a base price of $75,000 in the USA, excluding the $1,050 destination charge. By comparison, the 63 S sedan costs almost $35,000 more. We don't care who you are, that figure should at least make you think twice about how much speed you need.
As a standalone trim, there is only one Mercedes-AMG E53 sedan. It comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged and mild-hybrid-assisted inline-six engine with 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission transfers the power to the road via an AMG-tuned version of the Mercedes 4MATIC AWD system.
Standard features are extensive and include 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail lights, power-folding exterior mirrors, dual-zone climate control, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, leatherette/Dinamica seat upholstery, keyless entry and push-button start, remote start, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and a hands-free power trunk lid. Standard safety features include Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Pre Safe, forward-collision alert with automatic emergency braking, attention assist, a parking assistant, blind-spot assist, a surround-view camera, and rear cross-traffic alert. The infotainment system has a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, SiriusXM, two USB ports, navigation, Bluetooth streaming, and a 13-speaker Burmester audio system.
There are various packages available to enhance looks, safety, and luxury. You can choose between the AMG Night Package or the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package on the style side, or switch out the power moonroof for a panorama roof. You might also be tempted by the no-cost decklid badge delete option.
The Driver Assistance Package is a must, if only for the added peace of mind. It adds 15 driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control, active Stop & Go Assist, active lane-keeping assist, active blind-spot assist, and evasive steering assist, to name a few. Intelligent LED headlamps can be optioned on as part of the Exterior Lighting Package, and an AMG Performance Exhaust can be selected.
In the cabin, the Warmth & Comfort Package can also be added on for rapid front-seat heating and includes heated front armrests. Switching out the standard seat belts for red items won't cost you anything, but you can spend between $500 and $600 on wrapping the steering wheel in Dinamica or a combination of Dinamica and Nappa leather. Standalone options include ventilated front seats, a head-up display, heated rear seats, or a banging 23-speaker high-end Burmester surround sound system.
There's only one model in the 2022 Mercedes-AMG A53 sedan lineup, so it's a worthwhile exercise to see how much you end up spending once you add all of the nice options.
We went for a Cardinal Red body, black 20-inch AMG wheels, and the AMG Night Package. On the inside, we added Black Nappa leather and the AMG Carbon Fiber trim, as well as the Warmth & Comfort Package with more effective heating in front. Finally, we added the Driver Assistance Package, an AMG Head-Up Display, and the high-end Burmester 3D surround-sound system.
The total for this car came to nearly $95,000, including the destination. It's a lot of money, but still cheaper than the E63 S.
BMW came to the same realization as Mercedes: The M models were getting so powerful that there was a considerable gap between the standard models and the full-fat M models. That's why it introduced the M Performance models. The BMW M550i xDrive sedan sits between the six-cylinder 540i and the M5. It has a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 producing a not-insignificant 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The E53 only has 429 hp and 384 lb-ft, so the difference in performance is quite significant. The BMW gets to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, nearly on par with the M5 and better than the Merc's 4.4 seconds.
The M550i xDrive uses quite a bit more fuel, though, with EPA figures of 17/25/20 mpg to the AMG E53's 22/29/25 mpg, but it strikes a better balance between performance and comfort than the E53. Considering the big gap in performance between these two cars, the BMW's $1,800 higher asking price is insignificant. We'll go for the V8 rumble of the M550i.
The CLS is a prettier E-Class with a coupe-like exterior. It uses the same turbocharged six-pot and can get to 60 mph a split-second faster: it's 4.3 seconds vs 4.4. The rest of the car is the same as well, right down to the 115.7-inch wheelbase and the AMG-tuned AWD system. The CLS also has the newer MBUX infotainment system, but it loses out big time when it comes to practicality. Rear passengers lose more than an inch of headroom and legroom, and the CLS has an 11.9-cube trunk compared to the E53's 13.1-cube trunk. Mercedes charges around $8,000 more for the CLS 53, and the design isn't enough of a reason to go for it. To our eyes, the Mercedes-AMG E53 Sedan looks better anyway.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Mercedes-AMG E53 Sedan: