RE: Mercedes-AMG E53 Estate: Driven

RE: Mercedes-AMG E53 Estate: Driven

Monday 25th February

Mercedes-AMG E53 Estate: Driven

The thinking man's AMG E-Class gains a hybrid-assisted straight-six - can it compensate for the missing V8?



Who actually drinks Diet Coke out of choice? Maybe out of habit, convinced you're getting a flavour of the real thing without any of the nasties. But it's never the same without the sugary hit. Arguably the same can be said of AMGs, the traditionally yawning gap between 'civilian' Mercs and the heavy metal flagships is now filled by a new generation of AMG Performance models like the V6-powered '43 versions of the C- and E-Class and, more recently, the new A35. Same brand. Reduced heart-racing stimulants.

Saying that maybe Diet Coke's not all bad, and a guilt-free means of enjoying the same flavour. Applied to the E-Class we've previously enjoyed the E43, its 401hp twin-turbo V6, 4Matic all-wheel drive and downplayed looks offering the AMG experience with a more realistic entry price and running cost. Mercedes buyers have, of course, had the option of AMG floormats and trim packages for years and enthusiastically gussied up their diesel C-Classes accordingly. But we're assured these AMG Performance models genuinely do benefit from the engineering expertise of guys who supposedly don't get out of bed for anything less than a 500hp V8.

It must have worked because the '43 range has been reborn and reinvigorated with the addition of AMG's super-tech, 435hp version of the new Mercedes straight-six. A conventional, exhaust-driven turbo wasn't enough. Nor was an additional electrically powered one. And so for the first time we have a proper hybrid AMG, the E53 gaining an EQ-branded, 22hp/184lb ft electric boost exactly like Lewis Hamilton's F1 car.


Just kidding. That'll only come with the One, but the '53 motor is still a significant first step into an electrified world for a brand defined by its love of unapologetically excessive internal combustion engines. As an understated estate it makes an appealingly real-world alternative to the E63, the fact it's Β£30K cheaper and slots into the E-Class range between that and the Β£56K E400d offering it plenty of room to stand on its own two feet.

We'll come to the engine but, fundamentally, the E53 follows the same format as its predecessor. Which is to say specific AMG tuning for the multi-chamber Air Body Control suspension, a rear-biased all-wheel drive system and sharpened responses for the nine-speed automatic gearbox. You of course get plenty of AMG-branded features, including 19-inch wheels and a bodykit on the outside and AMG Dynamic Select mode controls to elevate the driving experience over that of standard E-Class estates. There's also an AMG Performance Exhaust system, the apparently convincing quad pipes revealed to be bumper trim falsies on closer examination.

Direct rivals are notable by their absence, BMW has long-since given up on fast estates while Audi's best effort in the absence of an S6 is the V6-powered, 340hp A6 Sport 55 TFSI. Jaguar does a 380hp supercharged petrol version of its appealing XF Sportbrake S but doesn't sell it in the UK, the top model here being the 300hp diesel instead.


E-Class wagons have always been a thinking man's alternative to SUVs and crossovers, the more so with this technically intriguing engine and a return to the evocative straight-six layout. Its revival is less about a romantic association with tradition and more that long, thin engines free up space to attach turbos, electric motors/generators and associated plumbing.

Whatever, the appeal of a big straight-six in this day and age is clear enough. And the new motor raises power from the E43's 401hp to an even more appealing 435hp, though combined 'system' torque is listed as a near-identical 383lb ft. That's only half the story however, the combination of the electric motor and the 48V-driven 'e-turbo' meaning there's a double-dose of lag-free boost available the instant you get on the throttle.

Where the E43's twin-turbo V6 had that familiar 'squashy' throttle pedal you get with most turbocharged engines the '53 immediately feels a lot sharper, that peak torque figure stretching all the way from 1,800rpm to 5,800rpm and usefully mitigating the wagon's burly two-tonne kerbweight. The fat torque band does beg the question of why you need nine gears though, the transmission's CVT-like enthusiasm for high-rev howling annoying enough to have you selecting manual mode to enjoy the formidable in-gear flexibility.


While there's a sneaking suspicion of electronic enhancement it sounds good too, the new engine smoother and more sophisticated than the V6 it replaces. Whether you're mooching on the motorway or giving it a proper workout in the wilds this is a lovely powertrain, as impressive for its dazzling technology as it is the way it seamlessly deploys it to the road.

Returning to the theme of the intro there's less of the pulse-quickening thrill you'd get from doing the same in an E63. And the 4Matic system is very much geared to traction-enabled neutrality over rear-driven theatrics, though it maintains a light touch and the E53 has a pleasingly natural balance that does justice to the potency of the engine. Up to pace the suspension shows excellent body control and a nice combination of comfort and composure too, but even fancy multi-chamber air springs can't hide the weight of the thing and the low-speed ride has a disappointingly brittle edge. Some abrupt shifts from the gearbox also spoil the refinement when you're just cruising, this a rare dropped ball from a Mercedes automatic.

No, it's no E63 substitute. But as the V8 model moves into a new realm, the E53 combines a relatively attainable taste of the AMG experience with a genuinely impressive combination of technology and firepower, the sleeper vibe all the more satisfying for the fact there's nothing else at this price that combines such a broad range of talents.


SPECIFICATION - MERCEDES AMG E53 4MATIC+ ESTATE

Engine: 2,999cc 6-cyl with exhaust driven turbo, electrically driven turbo and mild hybrid motor/generator
Transmission: 9-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 435@6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 383@1,800-5,800rpm
0-62mph: 4.5sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 2,020kg (EU, including driver)
MPG: 31.7 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 203g/km
Price: Β£65,790 (Β£72,455 as tested, comprising Premium Plus package with Panoramic roof, Burmester surround sound and Keyless-Go Β£2,595; Hyacinth Red paint Β£685; Driving Assistance Plus package Β£1,695; Comfort Package with Air Balance fragrance dispenser and Energising Comfort Control Β£395; 20-inch AMG wheels Β£1,295)










Author
Discussion

Blackpuddin

Original Poster:

9,303 posts

151 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Welcome back Dan!

B0bman

46 posts

106 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
I’d like one of these!

AC43

7,293 posts

154 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Perfect real-world subtle fast estate.


kbee540

150 posts

154 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
No doubt a smashing car, but man do I hate fake exhaust pipes/trims...tyhe only thing worse than fake vents with the solid bits of ribbed plastic. Just seems lazy.

numtumfutunch

3,298 posts

84 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Pretty sure that's the Snake Pass but not sure of the stone bridge pic. Goyt Valley?

Dan Trent

1,856 posts

114 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Blackpuddin said:
Welcome back Dan!
Now then!

Appreciated. How's everyone been?

Dan

Dan_1981

13,994 posts

145 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
AC43 said:
Perfect real-world subtle fast estate.
This.

Would be my choice for aneverday practical, fast family car.

Like it. And £65k doesn't seem that bad when a Jeep Wrangler is £45k and an pretty XF can be specced up to this price.

Harry_523

179 posts

45 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Seems to strike the perfect middle ground between a regular diesel wagon and a full fat AMG. Good noise, Good speed, and not too horrific range. Could be onto a winner, though I wonder if BMW will put the 745e powertrain in a 5 series wagon?

TWPC

643 posts

107 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
This looks lovely, but do Merc let you delete the fake exhaust pipes?

Good to have you back, Dan.

Arsecati

305 posts

63 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Damn, that is one handsome looking car.

Dan Trent

1,856 posts

114 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
TWPC said:
This looks lovely, but do Merc let you delete the fake exhaust pipes?
Not from the factory - the trims are all integrated into the bumper where the real pipes stop short somewhere behind. You'd have to take the falsies out of the bumper if you were to do it 'properly' with aftermarket pipes or extensions to the stock ones and I've a nasty feeling they're not so easily removed.

Dan

Ares

8,705 posts

66 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
I'd not be so bothered about the fake pipes. Mine has double twin pipes, and they look awesome....however, they get stted up so easily, and with 10,000 miles needed special treatments to keep them shiny.

It might be again the grain, but for a performance orientated car to have that solution keeps the aesthetics optimum. Like it or not, no-one likes dirty pipes wink

Nerdherder

1,437 posts

43 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
"The thinking man's AMG" LOL! I like the recipy though.

MDMA .

5,130 posts

47 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Nice. I'll wait 5 years when they drop below 20k though smile

AC43

7,293 posts

154 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Dan Trent said:
Blackpuddin said:
Welcome back Dan!
Now then!

Appreciated. How's everyone been?

Dan
Hi Dan, good to see you back.

Car-Matt

1,923 posts

84 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Probably my perfect one car do it all garage


Davey S2

12,081 posts

200 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Very nice but crucially 9bhp down on the RS4 so no cigar in a game of Top Trumps.

popeyewhite

10,388 posts

66 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
numtumfutunch said:
Pretty sure that's the Snake Pass but not sure of the stone bridge pic. Goyt Valley?
Derbyshire Bridge, just off the Cat and Fiddle. It's the far end of the Goyt just after Goyt Clough. Shots in the locale of the C+F also included. Must have been very early morning to find it so quiet!

Mr E

18,756 posts

205 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
This sort of thing is very much my bag.
Looks good in red too.

But, having checked down the back of the sofa, I’ll stick with the old N/A V8 thanks.

Ares

8,705 posts

66 months

Monday 25th February
quotequote all
Davey S2 said:
Very nice but crucially 9bhp down on the RS4 so no cigar in a game of Top Trumps.
Wins on exhaust count though.