A few weeks ago Double Apex was invited to the introduction of the revised E-Class range. We could not attend that event held in Gauteng, but we did recently get to sample the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe for a few days in the Cape.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa introduced the entire family of revised E-Class models early this year. The sedan, coupe and cabrio versions (we don’t receive the wagon in SA) were all presented at the same time with new appearances and technology.

Follow Double Apex on Instagram and Facebook where we share more car content.

New appearance

All versions now feature a newly shaped grille and headlamp design. The sportier AMG ‘53’ variants feature Mercedes’ ‘Panamericana’ grille, instead of the standard diamond finish, the former has 12 vertical slats. 

Other touches that differentiate AMG versions are four round exhaust tips, a lip spoiler atop the boot and bespoke 19-inch wheels. Our loan unit was fitted with optional 20 inch items finished in matte black. They create a menacing appearance against the metallic silver paintwork of the body. On the whole the AMG Coupe is a handsome vehicle with elegant lines and well-resolved proportions.

New tech

The E-Class is halfway through its lifecycle (unlike the S-Class and C-Class that are brand new), which means that, until now, it has not featured the firm’s new generation MBUX infotainment screen. Both Coupe and Cabriolet derivatives get the 12,3-inch central touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, as standard. Occupants can interact with the system through a new touchpad infotainment controller. The driver can control the MBUX through buttons on the steering wheel or via voice command.

Incidentally, the steering wheel is also of a new design and features a new appearance as well as a set of capacitive buttons. In the case of the AMG versions, there is a rotary dial and a switch that allows the driver to quickly set up the drivetrain according to five preset driving modes: slippery, comfort, sport, sport+ and individual. In doing so you can alter the response of the engine, transmission, suspension and change the weight of the steering.

Under the skin

The Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe has the same 3,0 litre engine that features in all other ‘53’ badged models. This new generation inline six-cylinder is force fed (by an exhaust gas compressor and electric compressor) and features an electric (EQ) boost component. Peak power is rated as 320 kW with 520 N.m of torque on tap from 1 800 – 5 800 r/min. See the engine specifics in the video at the bottom of this post.

Mercedes-Benz says that the E53 Coupe can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4,4 seconds and it has a top speed of 250 km/h (or 270 km/h with the optional AMG Driver’s Package). To haul the Coupe down from speed it is fitted as standard with 370 mm cross-drilled and vented discs clamped by four-piston calipers up front and 360 mm discs with single-piston calipers on the rear wheels.

On the road

Thanks to the integrated starter generator (ISG), which is the mild hybrid/electric component of the powerplant, the engine does not have a starter motor. That means it fires with a smoothness usually experienced in hybrid powered cars. In comfort mode the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe is mild mannered and keeps its voice hushed. The excellent Burmester hifi provides the soundtrack to your daily grind.

It can pootle around the city and it’d be ideal as a daily driver. The nine-speed automatic transmission blends gearshifts seamlessly and the wide band of torque makes light work of all situations. Even on the 20-inch alloys the car has a commendable ride. But it’d be silly of us to spend time with an AMG car and not let it stretch its legs…

In the wild

Thankfully the Western Cape has an abundance of arterial roads that are far from the urban jungle. Roads that are in relatively good condition and offer a good mix of driving conditions. Out in the wide open spaces we flicked the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe’s drive selector all the way over to its most racy setting and WOW…

The inline-six changes character from mild-mannered cruiser to racecar-like hooligan. At full chat the motor yowls all the way to 6 500 r/min with ease, never running out of puff on its way to the far side of the rev counter. When you suddenly lift off the loud pedal the motor responds with a volley of crackles from the exhaust.

When dealing with slow-moving traffic the transmission will skip gears as it down shifts to effect a quick pass. If you are in the mood gears can be selected by chunky paddles (of a new design) that are mounted to the rear of the steering wheel rim.

Speaking of the steering. For us the action felt a tad on the light side. It lacks the feedback we’d ultimately like in a sportscar. Having said that, the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe imparts a high degree of driver confidence thanks to the all-wheel-drive system, so you never quite feel when you are broaching the edge of traction, or that you need to really know where it is on the road. You’d have to be travelling at far greater speeds than is safe for this to take place on public roads.

Summary

Mercedes-AMG has built a reputation in recent times thanks to rip-snorting V8 motors that were fitted to just about every model in the portfolio. In the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe the company has shown that it can produce cars with far more finesse, cars that provide a high degree of driver enjoyment without the need for massive power outputs. 

We’d wager that over any stretch of road the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe will be as quick as its “63” badged siblings in the hands of most drivers. We walked away from the Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe extremely impressed. If you’re in the market for a sports coupe in this price range you’d be silly to ignore the E53.

Model: Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe

Price: R1 618 000

Engine: 3,0-litre inline six, turbocharged

Transmission: nine-speed auto, AWD

Max power: 320 kW

Max torque: 520 N.m

Top speed: 250 km/h

0-100 km/h: 4,4 sec

Fuel consumption: 8,1 L/100 km