The perfect blend of luxury and performance.
Mercedes-Benz has been on a roll of late, producing some of the finest luxury cars in any segment it so desires. The E-Class is just one such exploit, a midsize luxury sedan that has become an icon of modern luxury and interior design. But those with gasoline in their veins have always wanted more; AMG models have come along to satiate those desires but have often been inaccessible and overly harsh for the E-Class's intended market. Mercedes-AMG hit the sweet spot when the E53 arrived for 2019, taking all the luxury of the standard E-Class, but pairing it with a potent-yet-civil powertrain in the form of a new inline-six (Mercedes first since the end of the 20th century) coupled with a mild hybrid system.
It heralded a new era, one that has quickly seen the powertrain rolled out across numerous products in the brand's lineup. But after just two short years on the market, Mercedes-Benz has facelifted the E-Class Sedan, and with it, given the Mercedes-AMG E53 an update, too. Arguably the best embodiment of the Mercedes-AMG ethos of luxury and performance in one package, the E53 Sedan is about to get even better for 2021.
While the mid-life refresh of the E-Class lineup carries subtle updates in the form of remolded lights and bumpers, the changes the E53 has been endowed with are far less subtle. Instantly recognizable as an AMG, the diamond grille of last year's E53 has been done away with in favor of the AMG Panamericana grille design flanked on either side by reshaped headlights with a more organic shape. Beneath these elements, the redesigned front bumper carries traditional AMG cues of blacked-out winglets and air inlets, with a new vertical strut design in the central region.
The rear gets a similar treatment, with a reshaped rear apron housing a new diffuser, while the signature quartet of exhaust pipes remains a fixture - blacked-out and utilizing circular exits to differentiate the E53 from its full-fat E63 sibling.
The most identifiable feature of the new rear end is the redesigned taillamps - two-piece LED units that are split over the trunk lid and that eschew the somewhat blobbish design of yesteryear in favor of something sleeker, with definite influence from the new A-Class sedan.
The design is finished off with standard 19-inch alloy wheels with a twin five-spoke design, with optional twin-five spoke alloys in 20-inch diameters, while three new colors have been added to the exterior palette in the form of Mojave Silver metallic, Cirrus Silver metallic, and Graphite Grey metallic.
Overall, the changes are subtle, but the E53 now sports more aggression than it had before, a welcome change for lovers of the AMG brand.
The E-Class has set the bar by which we judge automotive interiors in recent years, combining spacious environments with high-quality materials and a design that perfectly blends old-school luxury with a modern tech interface. With the facelift of the Mercedes-AMG, this has been taken a step further, however, with the introduction of MBUX to the E-Class lineup. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience makes use of the same dual-screen display as before - dubbed the "Widescreen Cockpit" - but the latest generation infotainment suite unlocks new means of linking the car with its occupants with integrated voice commands and an AI-based system to help control all aspects of the driving experience.
The driver display is also fully customizable with three themes to choose from: Modern Classic, Sport, and Supersport - the latter displaying a central tachometer. The E53 also receives AMG-specific displays that show data such as a gear-speed indicator, engine data, G-force meter, and a race timer through the AMG Track Pace app.
As an AMG, the E53 also receives some bespoke interior touches with seats upholstered in a standard combination of black MB-Tex synthetic leather and Dinamica microfiber. Contrast stitching in red adds a sense of sportiness, as does an AMG badge embellished in the seatbacks. To add an even racier aesthetic, red seatbelts are also available, along with a range of trim choices including carbon fiber dash and door inserts.
The E53 denomination took over from the E43 when Mercedes-AMG equipped the E-Class with the newly developed 3.0-liter inline-six engine paired with the EQ Boost mild hybrid system. The good news for the 2021 facelift is that this powertrain continues unchanged, still developing peak power of 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. It's the smoothest integration of turbocharging and electric power on the market, with a 21 hp/184 lb-ft EQ-Boost motor supplementing torque down low, an electrically powered supercharger providing instant low-down responses, and a traditional turbocharger operating at the higher end of the engine spectrum.
The system sends outputs to all corners via an AMG-tuned 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system while a nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic gearbox handles things in between. 0-60 mph takes a claimed 4.4 seconds, while the AMG Dynamic Select system enables the driver to tailor the attitude of the E53 through five driving modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual.
While the E63 has been criticized for being too harsh on the road, the Mercedes-AMG E53 takes on a softer demeanor. It's thanks to a softer state of tune on the AMG Ride Control + system which finds a basis in Mercedes' standard air suspension. A multi-chamber air suspension pairs with adaptive damping to provide a ride that's smooth in Comfort mode and planted in Sport and Sport+ modes.
As has been the tradition for decades gone by, the E53 will face stiff competition from both Audi and BMW in the form of the Audi S6 and BMW M550i xDrive respectively. But there's also slightly newer competition from homegrown rivals like the Cadillac CT5-V.
Pricing is yet to be announced, but with the 2020 E53 Sedan priced from $73,800, we expect the 2021 facelift to remain around the $75,000 mark.