Controlled AMG lunacy in a package that plays hard without being a difficult everyday cruiser.
What are you seeing here is potentially the end of an era for not only Mercedes-Benz and AMG, but also to a bodystyle that has been a hallmark of the E-Class story ever since the legendary W114 and W115 of the late 1960’s and 1970s.
Despite assurance from the three-pointed star, a claim from Italy last year alleged that Stuttgart is weighing-up the possibly of dropping not only the E-Class coupe and cabriolet, but also the soft-top and two-door versions of the C-Class, an allegation seemingly substantiated on the back of the new W206 C-Class being offered only as a sedan and an estate.
Come 2023 the report from Autoblog Italy claims, a new model will bow, the CLE, in spite of little to nothing being known about it at present, or even seen as spy photographers have so far had no success snapping it.
If the claims are proven accurate, it would certainly come as a bitter pill to swallow for not only devotees of the E-Class, but also enthusiasts of the two-door mile munching Benz unable to stretch to the equally under fire S-Class Coupe.
Making matters even worse is the prospect of AMG’s electrification strategy which, again according to reports, could lead to the C43 and C53 becoming wholly electric models within the next few years.
A badge that could soon represent electric only propulsion
Given how a baton is often passed on to other models, this could well include the next E53 and result in the loss of what is arguably one of the finest engines on sale today since its debut in the first ‘53’ badged model, the CLS, three years ago.
It was therefore a sombre few days in the company of the facelift E53 Coupe recently as the knowledge of what is likely to be the final encore on a number of fronts loomed large. Gloom soon turned the proverbial frown upside down though as the notion arose that Affalterbach had produced something truly special were it to be the final goodbye.
Elegant and instantly recognisable as a Mercedes from the rear.
Although my previous encounter with the E53 was something of a mixed picture stemming from the fact that it was the cabriolet almost two years ago, the appeal of the coupe radiated stronger as the combination of the sinister Graphite Grey Metallic paint finish, five-spoke 20-inch AMG light alloy wheels, carbon fibre detailing and of course the distinctive coupe silhouette as well as the Panamericana grille looked purposeful and fantastic without going overboard in typical AMG fashion.
As subtle as the exterior revisions have been, Benz has been a tad busier on the inside with the inclusion of the new AMG Performance specific steering wheel sporting the ominous AMG Dynamic Select and adaptive suspension dials, AMG graphics and readouts with the dual 10.25-inch instrument cluster and MBUX infotainment system and a new Heads-Up Display.
Red ambient lighting forms part of 64 colours
As fantastic as the optional Burmester sound system fitted to our tester was, it was overshadowed by the undoubted star of the E53, the powerunit.
Ensconced behind the leather/Alcantara clad wheel surrounded by carbon fibre and strapped into the fabulously conformable AMG seats, the mild-hybrid assisted 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six responds with such vigour from the get-go that you cannot help but select Sport or Sport+ modes and leave it there.
In addition to the 16kW/250Nm delivered by the 48-volt system, the engine itself produces 320kW/520Nm and while docile with a soulful six-cylinder rumble at low speeds, explodes into a crescendo of aural pleasure with the sport exhaust on, which happened a lot, and the upper regions of the rev-range exploited.
The optional dual 10.25-inch MBUX infotainment system and instrument cluster
While likely to be lamented by some craving a V8, which is only reserved for the E63 S sedan, the character and delivery of the straight-six is such that a bent-eight was not missed as each downshift from the nine-speed TCT ‘box emitted a barrage of pops and bangs that left smiles as well as yelps of pure ecstasy.
The ‘box itself meanwhile is slick and regardless of being in automatic or flicking the paddles in manual mode, shifts and reacts with little hesitation in addition to being unobtrusive when you flick the Dynamic Select dial back into Comfort mode.
An AMG that doesn’t break your spine
As to be expected, the E53 feels sharp and not lacking in grip thanks to the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, while the ride, while unsurprisingly firm in even in Comfort, doesn’t shake your spine to pieces apart from on very uneven or bad surfaces.
Optional 20-inch AMG light alloy wheels
Stick to the less coarse black stuff, the E53 pulls the signature Jekyll & Hide by becoming a superbly comfortable long distance GT with oodles of luxury inside and a confidence-inspiring, sure-footed feel, as a result of that 4Matic system.
As for fuel consumption, the big Benz, with some care, recorded a best of 12.0 L/100 km. Not bad considering the power station up front and close to two-ton kerb weight.
As much as V8 would have been the ideal sweetener for some, the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe 4Matic+ to give it its full name was found lacking for very little as it manages to straddle the line between comfort and performance with such ease.
In fact, the biggest point of contention was the price that rose from R1 630 600 to a wallet and check book troubling R2 046 700, with all of the fitted optional extras tallied-up. Choose your toys wisely though, and you will end up with an accomplished cruiser/bruiser that departs, if indeed so, quietly followed by a knockout punch and sly smile.