Benz is known for making big, in your face performance cars but its latest effort is a more mature offering and could be one of its best yet.
Benz is known for making big, in your face performance cars but its latest effort is a more mature offering and could be one of its best yet.

Tested: Mercedes’ new muscle car

Mercedes-AMG isn't known for its restraint.

The luxury brand's hot-rod arm is responsible for hilariously over-the-top machines ranging from the explosive A45 hatchback and steroid-fed C63 sedan to twin-turbo V12-powered autobahn bruisers, gangsta-spec G-Wagens and record-braking track weapons stuffed with roll cage scaffolding.

The Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe could be one of the brand’s best performance cars.
The Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe could be one of the brand’s best performance cars.

But one of its best cars takes a different approach.

Suave and sophisticated, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe might be the most stylish model in the range. Clean lines, pillarless doors and traditional proportions lend a timeless elegance to a big two-door with few direct rivals.

Audi, BMW and Lexus don't sell coupes this size, making it something of an orphan in the prestige car game.

And unlike the E-Class sedan, the coupe isn't available with a V8 engine.

It’s stylish and sophisticated.
It’s stylish and sophisticated.

Instead, the range-topping AMG model makes do with a relatively new 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine boosted by mild hybrid assistance.

The petrol motor is good for 320kW of power and 520Nm of torque, while the electric motor delivers 16kW and 250Nm. Hybrid power is mainly used at low speed to facilitate smooth stop-start performance and off-the-mark acceleration, returning a 4.4-second sprint to 100km/h.

This is one of Benz' best engines. Smooth, willing and surprisingly tuneful, the inline six plays a sweet song under load before quad exhausts crackle under a closed throttle. It sounds much more refined than the V6 found in the cheaper "C43" coupe, and is quicker to boot.

The E53 is propelled by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine boosted by mild hybrid power.
The E53 is propelled by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine boosted by mild hybrid power.

The E53 is a flexible performer that feels punchy without shocking you with its pace. Relaxed around town and effortless when pressing on, the engine spins freely beyond 6000rpm. Mercedes' conventional nine-speed auto is smoother than the more mechanical-feeling unit found in V8-powered AMGs, and all-wheel-drive delivers sure-footed traction in the wet.

Forget the raucous approach of the similarly priced C63 Coupe - this E53 is an altogether more mature proposition. Fun to drive and capable of delivering genuinely rapid cross-country pace, the E53 does so without the fire and brimstone of its more popular cousin.

The E53’s interior is luxe.
The E53’s interior is luxe.

Is that a good thing? That's up to you.

Priced from $164,800 plus on-road costs (about $178,000 drive-away), the most expensive E-Class coupe is pitched toward wealthy design-led couples drawn to its smooth looks and long list of luxury features.

It has 20-inch wheels as standard, plus a 13-speaker Burmester stereo, supple Nappa leather, an enormous panoramic sunroof, comfortable sports seats and Mercedes' latest capacitive-touch steering wheel.

An E53 coupe will set you back about $178,000 on the road.
An E53 coupe will set you back about $178,000 on the road.

The E-Class' driver assistance suite is as good as it gets, as is a beautifully presented infotainment system combining twin 12.3-inch screens with a head-up display, voice activation, smartphone mirroring and much more.

The combination of luxury and pace proves there's more depth to Mercedes-AMG than hairy-chested V8s.

VERDICT 4/5

The Mercedes-AMG E53 is a gem. It's not cheap, but enthusiasts will appreciate its eye-catching design and satisfying performance.

MERCEDES-AMG E53 COUPE

Price: About $178,000 drive-away

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder, 320kW/520Nm

Warranty/servicing: 5-year/unlimited km, $5100 for 5 years

Safety: 5 stars, 9 airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane keeping and traffic jam assistance, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Thirst: 9.3L/100km

Cargo: 425 litres

Spare: Repair kit

 

Originally published as Tested: Mercedes' new muscle car



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