by Jay Traugott
The 2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe forms part of the all-new 53 Series model designation, slotting in as the only AMG-badged E-Class Coupe, replacing the E43 in the process. According to Mercedes, the E53 Coupe is an amalgam of performance capability, luxury-sport character, and excellent efficiency. For 2019, a new mild-hybridized inline-six turbo engine with a displacement of 3.0 liters, replaces the outgoing V6 bi-turbo engine, granting the E53 outputs of 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. This is paired to an AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission, feeding power to the 4MATIC all-wheel-drivetrain. With the 6 Series Coupe now defunct and Audi offering only four-door coupes in this segment, the E53 Coupe exists in somewhat of a vacuum, giving it a unique niche to occupy. With considerably more road bias than the full-blown E63, a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds is an impressive feat. With new technology powered the way, could the E53 be our first glimpse at the hybridized future of Mercedes-AMG?
The 2019 E53 takes the place of the E43 in the E-Class line-up and rides into the new year having received a moderate facelift, new AMG features, and a new electrified inline-six engine. Most notably, the AMG-badged E53 receives a new 3.0-liter straight-six engine with an integrated EQ Boost starter-alternator and an extra 35 hp. Some of the cosmetic upgrades include the twin-blade radiator grille, the front bumper in an A-wing design, the AMG-specific side sill panels, the new rear bumper housing four round tailpipes, and a newly designed hood. A newly designed AMG Performance steering wheel is also featured, and a few new interior upholstery, material, color, and trim options have been added to the lineup.
Along with the upgrade from E43 to E53, Mercedes-AMG has seen fit to award the top-ranking E-Class Coupe with some new clothes to celebrate the occasion. As part of its 2019 facelift, the E53 coupe is fitted with a silver chrome twin-blade radiator grille previously reserved for the V8 AMG models and is given an A-wing design front bumper and a lower front splitter in silver chrome. Mildly flared arches play home to 19-inch AMG twin five-spoke alloy wheels with black accents, while around back, a new rear bumper and diffuser house four round tailpipes - the new signature of mid-range AMG models. The rear also features an integrated lip spoiler, while the roof of the coupe plays host to a tinted panoramic sunroof.
The dimensions of the E53 Coupe are naturally more compact than those of the sedan; surprisingly, along with its scant dimensions and despite losing two doors, the coupe model has a curb weight of 4,429 pounds, which is 88 pounds heavier than the sedan model. It measures 190.6 inches in length, 80.9 inches wide including the mirrors, and stands 56.3 inches tall. The 113-inch wheelbase is longer than both the Audi RS 5 and longer in fact than the BMW M850i, despite the BMW technically competing a class higher than the midsize E53.
Key to the new '53' designation is a newly developed mild-hybrid powertrain. The E53 Coupe sees the return of the Mercedes inline-six with a new turbocharged 3.0-liter, which finds itself augmented by an EQ Boost starter-alternator, an electric compressor, and a 48-volt electric system powering the two. The electric components add in an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, supplementing the combustion engine and ceding 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque in totality. Not only does the electric boost help with torque-fill on take-off, but it also powers an electric air compressor that spools up the turbo on a moment's notice, mitigating any potential turbo-lag there might be.
The configuration of gas and electricity is a highly refined and efficient piece of craftsmanship. Turbo-lag is all but absent from the mix and throttle responses are alarmingly immediate. The initial shove in the back feels more V8 than inline-six, but the soundtrack is definitely six-cylinder. It's strange hearing the howl of a straight-six motor from behind the wheel of a Mercedes, but it suits the car's character and rounds off a thoroughly impressive powertrain.
The nine-speed auto gearbox is just as impressive, delivering quick and smooth shifts throughout the drive. On the other end of the gearbox, power reaches all four corners via Mercedes' 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system.
Though with a softer and more supple ride than the sportier CLS, the AMG Sport air-spring suspension in the E53 is still tuned for performance, giving it a harder edge than a full-blown comfort setup. Three-mode dampers give the driver the opportunity to swap between a vaguely floaty ride on one end of the spectrum or a solidly buttoned-down ride on the other which mitigates body roll through the corners at the expense of harshness over rippling surfaces. While it doesn't quite handle larger undulations and densely rutted roads very well, moderately rough surfaces and bumps are managed more than adequately.
The steering - an electronically power-assisted setup - is direct and feels natural in hand, weighting up adequately as you pile on the speed and as the front tires load up. It's not dripping with feedback, but it's talkative enough to boost driver confidence when carving up a curvy mountain road. It's aided by a natural rear-wheel-drive feel as that's the 4MATIC+'s default bias, shuffling torque to the front axle only when two driven wheels can't keep a tight enough grip on things.
Despite weighing the better part of 5,000 lbs, there's an athleticism to the E53 Coupe, with the sleek two-door exhibiting impressive levels of grip, potent braking performance from upgraded stoppers, and a great sense of control on the open road. It's not a track day weapon, but it is real-world fast.
The goal of hybridization is generally to reduce fuel consumption, and while the E53 utilizes an electric boost for the sake of performance, gas mileage estimates have improved over the old E43 as well. Up between two and three points on each cycle, the E53 returns EPA estimates of 21/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, requiring premium unleaded gasoline to get the most out of the new six-pot. With its 17.4-gallon gas tank filled to the brim, with mixed driving styles, the AMG E53 Coupe can manage a total range of around 400 miles before having to stop at the nearest gas station.
The AMG E53 Coupe seats a total of four passengers. The seats throughout the cabin are reasonably comfortable but are made slightly firmer than ideal because of deep contours and dynamic bolstering - not necessarily ideal for the daily commute but a boon on a more spirited drive. The driver can effortlessly find an optimal driving position with competent forward visibility thanks to the highly adjustable seat and steering column, the former with multi-way power adjustment including four-way lumbar support; however, as a by-product of the coupe design, the sloping roofline does hinder rearward visibility to some degree. The adjustable front seating makes for easy ingress and egress as the seats also power-slide forward, allowing for entry and exit to the rear seats with ease. The rear seats are a little cramped for regular use, though, and are best utilized for only the smallest of adults, as genuine six-footers will find things highly uncomfortable after more than a few minutes hunched over.
Coupes sacrifice practicality at the altar of style, and the E53 is no different. Just 10 cubic feet of storage space is available in the trunk, down from the 13.1 on offer in the sedan counterpart. Still, a week or two's worth of family groceries should easily fit into the trunk of the E53 Coupe. Cargo space is easily accessible thanks to the wide opening trunk lid and grocery bag hooks, while hands-free access and electronic closing are added for further convenience. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat latches are also located within the trunk, allowing easy expansion of the available space.
There are numerous in-cabin storage options, including practically-oriented, wide door pockets, a spacious center armrest console, dual cupholders, a key holder, a phone charging tray, and an average-sized glovebox. The rear pockets are compact but useful for smaller items, and there are two cupholders situated between the back seats.
On this high-end performance-based luxury Coupe, a broad array of features are fitted as standard. Occupants of the E53 are accommodated by power-adjustable and heated front sports seats with memory function and kept comfortable by dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-operated tilt-and-slide glass panoramic sunroof, while 64-color LED ambient lighting with illuminated vents adds a touch of luxury or kitsch to the mix depending on your chosen hue. Other standard features include an illuminated entry system, remote start via the Mercedes me connect mobile app, a Smartkey with Keyless-Start and Keyless-Go, HomeLink garage door opener, and 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. The exterior mirrors are power-folding and the rain-sensing windshield wipers feature magic vision control. Lastly, the AMG E53 features a range of driver-assist features including a standard rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, pre-collision braking, available lane-keeping assist and active steering assist, and a head-up driver display.
Although not yet featuring the new MBUX system, the infotainment system in the E53 is still modern, capable, and premium in look and feel. The dual 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch high-resolution central display span nearly two-thirds of the available dash width. Utilising the latest COMAND interface, the system can be controlled either via steering wheel-mounted controls or via the central control pad. It's not the most intuitive system, bested by Audi's more logical MMI system, but it's by no means the worst, and the graphics are clear and crisp. The system boasts full AM/FM/HD radio/SiriusXM functionality and is equipped with Bluetooth hands-free and media streaming, as well as USB inputs and NFC streaming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, with navigation also native to the system with traffic services by TomTom. Sound quality is ensured by a standard 13-speaker Burmester sound system, with the option to upgrade to a 1,450-watt 23-speaker setup.
Mercedes continues to falter on improving the reliability of its vehicles; with three recalls pertaining to the 2019 E53 Coupe. These recalls range from simple matters of the car not detecting the seatbelts as fastened to more severe issues like the brake assist not engaging or the powertrain control unit resetting, resulting in the engine stalling while driving. Consequently, J.D. Power allots the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E-Class with a predicted reliability rating of only two-and-a-half out of five. The AMG E53 is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty with various warranty extension options.
The E53 Coupe hasn't been evaluated for crashworthiness by the NHTSA or IIHS, and neither have any of the base E-Class coupe variants. The IIHS has, however, evaluated the sedan on which the coupe is based, awarding it top marks in all tests and bestowing the title of 2019 Top Safety Pick + upon it. While there are structural differences, equipped with the same range of technologies we expect the E53 Coupe to perform similarly. Safety equipment comprises seven airbags including a driver's knee airbag, blind-spot assist, and a rearview camera, while optional features include everything from car-to-X communication and evasive steering assist.
The E43 wasn't exactly in need of replacement, but the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe has come along anyway, and the E-Class Coupe range is better for it. While marginally quicker in a straight line and just as capable through a set of corners, the E53 brings with it a unique character, reviving the inline-six for the Mercedes brand and doing so in a big way. The EQ Boost and electric compressor give it an edge in terms of both drivability and frugality, while adaptive air suspension gives the E53 the duality of comfortable cruiser or back-road bomber. Jam-packed with style and technology, there's little the E53 Coupe can truly be faulted on. Sure, it's heavy, and it sacrifices practicality for the sake of style, but it also exists in a segment with no other competitors, giving buyers the option of something classier and more spacious than a 4 Series, but substantially cheaper than an S-Class Coupe. It's a win all-round for the E53 Coupe, and it bodes well for the electrified future of the AMG brand.
The 2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe receives a price increase of $2,100 over last year's E43 Coupe, and shoppers can now expect a starting MSRP of $73,700 for the 2019 AMG E53 Coupe. That is excluding tax, registration, and licensing fees, as well as Mercedes' processing, delivery, and handling fee of $995. Be careful with the options, though, as ticking too many boxes can quickly see the price rise to almost $80,000.
|AMG E53 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Hybrid
The Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe is reviewed as a standalone model at the top of the E-Class Coupe line-up.
Powered by a new inline-six engine with electric augmentation, the Coupe is equipped with a selection of sport-tuned underpinnings, which include an AMG Sport Suspension based on air body control, an AMG Performance Braking System, and an AMG Sport Exhaust System. Additional AMG-themed features have also been added, such as the newly designed AMG three-spoke sports steering wheel with paddle shifters, front sports seats, and brushed aluminum pedals. As a high-end E-Class Coupe, it also receives, as standard, a comprehensive range of luxury vehicle features, including power-adjustable and heated front seats with position memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 64-color LED ambient lighting system with illuminated vents, as well as state-of-the-art infotainment set up on a 12.3-inch display screen with a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system.
Competing in a class of its own, the E53 Coupe will draw attention from all corners, especially from buyers wondering if its as capable a coupe as the BMW M4. While the C63 Coupe is actually the M4's rival, the E53 and M4 share a lot in common. Both feature two-door bodies propelled by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-sixes, both producing circa 430 hp. But there are a lot of differences, too. The M4 is smaller, lighter, devoid of electric assistance, and is purely rear-wheel-drive. It's the most hardcore of its kind and is built with a singular purpose - to be an everyday coupe that eats lap times for breakfast. With less weight and more torque, it's quicker in a straight line than the E53, and with less weight, it's more nimble through the corners, too. But it's smaller and less practical, and on-road, it's compromised with poorer ride quality. The E53, by contrast, is comfortable and luxurious, outfitted with more features and greater levels of connectivity. It's also real-world fast, so while the M4 might beat it on any track you can think of, the E53 is the one you'll want to live with on a day to day basis. Sure it's $4,550 more than the M4, but it's worth every cent.
Yet another competitor from a lower segment, the RS5 again typically does battle with the C63 Coupe, but like the E53 it has a turbocharged six-cylinder, but it develops 444 hp to the E53's 429, while also producing 59 lb-ft more torque. Like the E53, the RS5 is equipped with standard all-wheel-drive, and it's suitably rapid, quicker in a straight line than the E53. Both are composed through a set of corners, but dynamically, the E53 is shown up by its excess heft. It's partially the battery and electric motors, and partially the fact that it's a much larger vehicle, but it can't match the RS5's nimbleness. What it can match is the comfort, and it bests the Audi by a good margin in this regard. The RS5 isn't the most dynamically talented among its peers and many view it as more of a rapid GT car than an all-out sports coupe. But if the RS5 is a GT car, then the E53 simply has it beaten, as it's more comfortable, more refined, and boasts even more tech. With just $500 separating the two, the E53 is a more sensible luxury buy.