by Gerhard Horn
The Mercedes-AMG E53 coupe is the quickest version of the brand's comfortable, classy two-door. Mercedes-Benz has never offered full-fat, go-faster versions of the E-Class coupe and convertible, so there's no boisterous twin-turbo V8 here. Power is not in short supply, however, as the E53 is equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with EQ Boost, enough for healthy outputs of 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. The coupe makes a compelling case for itself. Unfortunately, the E53 competes in a dwindling segment and has no direct rivals from Audi or BMW. It seems buyers either want their two-door luxury coupes in a racier, more compact form (C63 coupe) or as a large grand tourer (S63 coupe). The AMG E53 coupe occupies a middle ground that has received less love in recent years, so one must look to the stunning Lexus LC or the more dynamic BMW 8 Series to find rivals, and both are pricier; so, is the E53 in a fortunate position at this price point or is it the last of a dying breed? Let's find out.
The 2021 E53 Coupe carries over to 2022 virtually unchanged. However, Adaptive Highbeam Assist that used to be part of the optional Exterior Lighting Package is standard from this year, as are rear-seat USB-C ports. There is also a new Manufaktur Starling Blue Metallic paint option available on the E53. These are the sum of the changes, the final one being a corresponding price increase of $1,350.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG E53 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas
The E-Class coupe was already a handsome car to begin with, and last year's facelift has made it even more attractive with its new headlights and slimmer lights at the rear. LEDs are standard at both ends, with the front also getting LED daytime running lights. The E53 comes with a model-specific Panamericana grille, power bulges on the hood, and quad exhaust tips at the rear. A set of 19-inch AMG twin five-spoke alloy wheels is standard, and you can choose between two available AMG design packages to help it stand out even more. There is also a standard panorama roof.
The E-Class coupe may sit alone in its segment but it's actually very similar in its dimensions to the BMW 8 Series coupe. Its length of 190.6 inches makes it a mere 0.5 inches shorter than the Bimmer, although the E53's wheelbase is two inches longer at 113.1 inches. The Merc stands 56.3 inches tall and is 80.9 inches wide with the side mirrors extended. It may appear to be relatively compact, but thanks to the mild-hybrid assistance and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, it has a curb weight of 4,429 pounds.
The E53 engine is fascinating because it's a more compact version of the concepts first introduced by the hypercar holy trinity more than a decade ago. Instead of using electricity for efficiency, why not use it to make cars more exciting as well? Most of the power comes from a 3.0L turbocharged inline-six engine, and between it and the 9-speed AMG Speedshift gearbox, Mercedes mounted a small electric motor. It's called EQ Boost, and it essentially provides an additional 21 hp/184 lb-ft to fill the gaps in the torque curve and provide low-end grunt. The total system output is 429 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 384 lb-ft between 1,800 and 5,800 rpm. An AMG Sport Exhaust is standard, delivering a pleasing BMW-like 6-cylinder howl to 6,500 rpm. It's not the most exciting sound in the world, but far from the worst turbocharged noise in existence.
The engine and gearbox work together beautifully. The engine never feels strained, and thanks to all that low-down grunt, it's always ready to leap forward, although it doesn't feel like a hard-edged 2-door sports coupe. AMG's Speedshift transmission is exceptional and does a fine job whatever mode the car is in. You get closely spaced gear ratios for brisk acceleration and three overdrive ratios for increased efficiency. If you're a numbers person, the 0-60 sprint will take 4.3 seconds.
The Mercedes-AMG E53 coupe comes with an impressive selection of AMG-enhanced hardware and software. Instead of the basic 4MATIC system, it has 4MATIC+. This AWD system is capable of sending 100 percent of the power to the rear axle. It also has AMG's adaptive air suspension, three-stage stability control, and AMG Dynamic Select with the AMG Drive Unit on the steering wheel. The latter allows you to make the exhaust a bit louder and scroll between the various driving modes. Standard driving modes include Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Slippery. The settings for the AWD, adaptive damping, and stability control depend on the mode you select.
While the E53 has all of these impressive features, it never feels like a proper sports car. It's just too heavy to chuck into a corner. You can induce oversteer, but it feels undignified. The turn-in is quick and direct, and the brakes are powerful, but the E53 coupe feels more like a grand tourer with its hushed engine and polished drivetrain. It's more at home covering ground at rapid speeds than it is on a track. In Comfort mode, it's a bit of a mix. The ride is on the firm side, and it's even worse if you opt for larger alloy wheels.
While the EQ Boost system is used to increase the power, it also serves another purpose. With the electric motor filling in the power gaps, the engine doesn't have to work as hard. The Stop/Start feature is also much less annoying. The result is a set of impressive EPA-estimated figures. It's claimed that the E53 can do 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined, which is astounding for a car with more than 400 hp. The 53 engine is only marginally less efficient than the detuned 450 engine. Just one mpg separates them on the city and highway cycles and their combined cycle figure is the same. The E53 is equipped with a 17.4-gallon tank, good for a range of 435 miles between fuel stops.
Despite sacrificing some practicality for style, the E53 coupe remains reasonably spacious for what it is. Adults under six-feet tall will have enough legroom and just enough headroom at the back, although taller individuals will start to find their heads brushing up against the roof. Notably, the E53 offers a substantial 6.4 inches of additional rear legroom compared to the BMW 8 Series coupe. In front, as expected, there is more space to stretch out and it's comfortable enough for longer journeys.
Merc includes power-adjustable front seats with heating and a power-adjustable steering column as standard, so finding the correct driving position takes a few seconds. You can store up to three driving positions with the standard memory function. Visibility is good, and ingress and egress are easy thanks to the large, wide-opening doors, although getting into the back requires a bit more agility.
Coupes aren't known for being practical, and you have to make some sacrifices here as well. The trunk offers ten cubic feet of cargo capacity, but you can fold the rear seats forward to create a larger cargo area. The 10-cube trunk is large enough for luggage for two people, and you can chuck a few extra items on the rear seats.
Rear passengers do get a set of cupholders mounted between the two individual seats, but storage space is much better in the front. Front passengers get two cupholders, a decent glove compartment, ample storage space underneath the armrest, and functional door pockets.
As the priciest E-Class coupe, the E53 is generously equipped with everything you need to keep you comfortable, safe, and entertained. It comes standard with power-adjustable front sport seats with memory, front seat heating, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start via the Mercedes app, a 64-color LED ambient lighting system, a power-adjustable steering column, a power rear sunshade, panorama roof, a power trunk closer with hands-free access, illuminated entry, and a HomeLink garage door opener. Standard driver assistance features include front collision detection with auto emergency braking, blind-spot assist, automatic parking assistance, front/rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, rain-sensing wipers, and rear cross-traffic assist, to name just a few. For an additional charge, you can add items like soft-close doors, adaptive cruise control, and an AMG-specific head-up display.
To the left of the 12.3-inch digital driver's display, you'll find another 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia display fitted as standard and running Merc's updated MBUX software. You can interact with it using the touchscreen, a touchpad controller, touch control buttons on the steering wheel, or simply by saying "Hey Mercedes" and making a request. It has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, online navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, and SiriusXM with a six-month trial subscription. To charge devices, you get multiple USB-C ports and one wireless charging pad. This year, rear-seat USB-C ports are added. A 13-speaker Burmester sound system is standard but can be upgraded to a 23-speaker Burmester 3D surround-sound system. Since this is an AMG product, you can add the AMG Track Pace system that measures acceleration and lap times. That being said, the E53 coupe is not a track car so we wouldn't bother.
A review of the AMG E53 coupe model's reliability doesn't make for promising reading and that goes for the E-Class lineup as a whole. The 2020 model was recalled nine times, and some of the issues spilled over the 2021 model, which was recalled eight times. Not all of these recalls are relevant to the E53 coupe, however. The applicable recalls include a front passenger seat missing an adjustment stop limiter, an inaccurate vehicle location being sent out for emergency services, a seat that is positioned too close to a potentially deploying airbags, a faulty front seat position switch, a rearview camera image that may not display properly, and a side-impact crash sensor connector that may loosen. The 2022 model has been recall-free so far.
Every 2022 Mercedes E-Class and AMG E53 coupe comes with a four-year/50,000-mile basic and powertrain warranty, although no complimentary scheduled maintenance is offered.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS provides a rating for the 2022 AMG E53 Coupe. The E-Class on which it's based scored exceptionally well, however. The NHTSA gave it a full five-star rating. The IIHS was even kinder, giving the 2021 model the Top Safety Pick+ award. This award is only applicable to models equipped with the optional $1,700 Driver Assistance package.
The 2022 Mercedes-AMG E53 coupe is not a bad car. In isolation, it's pretty fun. Unfortunately, it competes in a segment of one. Usually, this would count in Merc's favor, but this particular segment is lying bleeding on the floor, waiting for the flatline. For proof, look no further than the upcoming CLE, which will replace both the C-Class and E-Class coupes.
In this segment, you have two kinds of shoppers. The one is buying the car as a status symbol, which is fine since wanting the world to know you're successful is Basic Human Desires 101. The other buyer is an enthusiast, looking for something sporty and engaging. The status buyers have migrated over to crossover coupes because, in the 'burbs, you're nobody if you don't have an impractical SUV with a sloping roofline. Go figure. The enthusiasts know the practical limitations of the body style and accept that it's better as a two-seater. They also know that you can get a lot more car at the E53's $77,600 price. If you only need two seats and some relative practicality, there are several cars you can turn to. We can think of the BMW M2/M4, Audi RS5, Ford Mustang, and the Chevrolet Corvette off the top of our head. All of them are affordable and will kick the E53's teeth in when it comes to performance driving. In short, it's not so much the car, but rather the segment. Every other manufacturer has given up because there's no demand left for a car like the E53 coupe.
The price of the AMG E53 coupe begins at an MSRP of $77,600, excluding the $1,050 destination charge in the USA. That's more affordable than the BMW 8 Series, which starts at $7,400 more in RWD guise. Still, you can easily spend over six figures on the E53 by selecting enough options.
There's only one model, but it's worth looking at the options menu. We'd stick with a basic metallic color and the standard 19-inch wheels. Any bigger, and the ride is too firm. Since you want to make a statement, you need to add the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package ($1,750). The inside needs to be as stunning as the exterior, so you add the designo Nappa leather ($4,200) and the Warmth & Comfort Package for $800. This also adds the Driver Assist Package that will cost $1,700, which is fine because we'd want it anyway. Finally, no luxury car is complete without a high-end sound system, so adding the $4,550 Burmester 3D surround-sound system is a must. Add all of this and you end up with a car that will set you back $90,600, not including destination. Essentially, it amplifies the problem we were talking about with the E53 coupe's segment.
While the E-Class coupe's segment is dead, there is still demand for coupes a size down. And if you've got your heart set on something wearing the three-pointed star, we've got good news for you. The C-Class coupe offers more legroom and headroom in the front but its rear seats are more cramped. For just $650 more, you can have the AMG C63 S coupe, and for $6,950 less, you can have the base AMG C63 coupe. In both cases, you'll be getting an angry schoolyard bully that will kick the E53's well-defined buttocks. The base C63 has 469 hp/479 lb-ft of torque, while the S provides 503 hp and 516 lb-ft. Both models are way more rapid than the 429 hp/384 lb-ft E53. The E53 takes 4.3 seconds to hit 60 mph, while the C63 S will get there in 3.7 seconds. It's also worth investing in a C63 now, because it will be the last of the angry twin-turbo V8 rear-wheel-drive AMGs. From here on out, you're looking at turbocharged four- and six-cylinder hybrids. Yes, the C63 is a gnarly car. It has too much power (just the right amount) and a ton and a half of charisma. Buy one now before Merc launches the four-cylinder replacement.
If you can afford to pay $90,000 for a E53 coupe with a few additional toys, there's no reason you can't buy CLS 53 instead - it starts at less than $4,000 more. With the E63 S sedan no longer available, the CLS offers a great alternative, with svelte coupe-like styling that arguably doesn't take a back seat to the E53 coupe's - and a lot more practicality with an extra set of doors. It has the same engine, transmission, 4MATIC+ AWD system, and performance as the E53 coupe, but much easier access for the rear-seat passengers - even though it doesn't offer more space in the back seat. The trunk, however, is nearly 20 percent larger at 11.9 cu-ft and its combined mpg only 2 worse. It's partly because of cars such as the CLS that coupes' days are numbered. We'd take the CLS 53 that combines better practicality with the same sense of style.
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