Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: November 21, 2021
Without any true direct competitors, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe has always sat in a class of its own. It’s bigger than the BMW 4 Series yet not large enough to compete with the 8 Series. The Audi A5 and Infiniti Q60 don’t quite match up in size or price, and you can’t really compare more expensive GTs to it either like a Porsche 911 or Lexus LC 500.
You see, sales of personal luxury coupes pale in comparison with SUVs and even sedans. So what makes this mid-size, four-seater, two-door E-Class so unique that Mercedes would continue to offer it? It’s the price. For under $100,000, the E-Class Coupe is one of the best GT cruisers out there - serene, comfortable, and doused in luxury amenities, and it demonstrates a sense of composure generally reserved for uber-expensive GTs like the S-Class Coupe or Bentley Continental. Turns out you don’t need to sell your kidney to be coddled with massaging seats while looking fly down the boulevard. And if that wasn’t enough to get your mouth salivating, AMG wants to have a word. This is the E 53 AMG, and it’s why there is still a market for these particular types of vehicles.
While not as visually soft or as undistinctive as the E 450 Sedan we tested a few weeks back, the E 53 ramps up the eye candy with that Panamericana vertical-slat front grill. It creates such a paradox between its soft silhouette, rounded shoulders, and calm headlights, with the bold aesthetics of the grill. With it, the E 53 carries road presence that instantly draws your attention.
Every E 53 on the road should come spec’ed like this: black on black with that stunning chrome trim outlining the windows and accentuating the coupe’s elongated roofline. Our E 53 was loaded up with the optional carbon fibre package as well, so the side mirrors and rear spoiler were dressed up in that lightweight yet sturdy material. It’s a shame that they don’t offer an E 63 Coupe - while it may not sell very well, we think there’s a definite market for that kind of car in the $100,000 - $120,000 price range, and it shouldn’t cannabalize too many sales of the even more expensive SL-Class or the AMG GT.
The E 53 comes loaded with the same powerplant underpinning AMG’s other -53 Series models, and that’s a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six serving 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque through a 9-speed automatic gearbox. It is further paired with all-wheel drive and the EQ Boost mild hybrid system, which is a starter-generator that serves as an alternator and provides select hybrid functions, including up to 21 additional horsepower. Plus, an electric auxiliary compressor and an exhaust gas turbocharger help build high-charge pressure without delay, for faster increases in torque and acceleration.
Our E 53 was equipped with the optional AMG Performance Exhaust, which adds two additional internal flaps near the tailpipes, and it is wickedly loud, howling and gurgling up to the limiter in an almost BMW-like fashion. While not as dramatic as the chainsaw-ripping symphony of the CLA 45, or as racecar-like as the G80 M3, it’s wonderfully unique in a realm oversaturated with turbocharged V6s. Have a listen to our Exhaust Notes video below to see what we’re talking about.
And despite the noise would have you believe, the E 53 isn’t breakneck quick. Flooring it gets you up in a jiffy but never to whiplashing speeds. 0-100 km/h does come in a swift 4.4 seconds, but it never shoves you into your seatback like an M3 or C 63. As expected, considering it weighs 2,010 kg. For reference, the new Honda Civic weighs 640 kg less, or about seven, 200-pound humans, so don’t get fooled by all the AMG badging. It’s more a mid-tier competitor at that. Both the similarly priced, four-door BMW M550i (4.0 seconds) and Audi RS 5 Sportback (3.9 seconds) feel significantly quicker off the line.
Still, the E 53 Coupe is a steely-eyed road companion, constantly teasing you to drive faster and to explore every inch of its powerband. Grip is bountiful with its sure-fire all-wheel drive system, but the powertrain is seemingly let down by the clunky 9-speed that doesn’t hold a candle to the ZF 8-speed underpinning the BMW 5 Series. However, you can’t deny the AMG’s crispy shifts. At speed, it’s right up there with many of the best dual-clutches.
Even with the E 53 dialed back into its most comfortable settings, the ride exposes some rough patches when negotiating bumps and expansion joints due to its stiffer suspension setup, and the dampers seem to bottom out rather quickly. On smooth roads, its underlying firmness is more difficult to detect, but if undisturbed, comfortable, and smooth driving is your top priority, then it’s the latter, non-AMG that you want instead.
But what elevates the E-Class Coupe into penthouse territory is with the interior. The cabin is a visual and tactile feast for the senses. While the black leather isn’t as spectacular as the white and blue yacht theme available in the E 450 Cabriolet, it’s still gorgeous. And Mercedes hits another home run with their new steering wheel. The ergonomics might not have been improved, and the touchpad is still frustrating at times where it never seems to highlight what we want in the fussy menu system, but the aesthetics and details are astonishing, the Alcantara wrap is buttery soft, and the paddle shifters feel expensive and worthy of a premium offering. And like the previous AMG wheel, there are two circular dials budding out the lower spokes. The right dial controls the driving mode, while the left features mini screens that can be configured to activate the exhaust, suspension settings, traction control, and auto start/stop feature - handy when you need some performance in a pinch.
Two-seater coupes like the Jaguar F-Type and Toyota Supra have terrible outward visibility with monstrous B-pillars obstructing the view. Four-seater coupes however are a different story with the help of a larger rear window. The E 53 doesn’t even have a B-pillar at all, so the front and rear windows can roll down exposing an expansive and uninterrupted moon-shaped opening. Blind spots are a thing of the past.
And unlike the more expensive GT options on the market where the rear seats are just token items for dogs and small children, the E 53 Coupe’s are actually usable, housing enough space to seat six-foot adults. It might as well be called a sedan with its rear doors sealed shut. The only downside is convenience, and ingress and egress, which takes a bit of choreography to slip in and out.
The Mercedes E-Class Coupe continues to sit at its own table, offering a sleek mode of transportation with all the bells and whistles expected from a luxury coupe, and then some. The interior is ace, the fit and finish is impeccable, and the rear seats are actual functional pieces of furniture. The AMG variant ramps up the performance with strong acceleration and a delightful exhaust, but we would rather spend that extra money on the more focused, cosseting, and similarly-priced E 450 Cabriolet instead. They say Vitamin D is good for the soul.
Model: 2022 Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+ Coupe
Paint Type: Obsidian Black Metallic
Base Price: $90,900
Price as Tested: $109,300
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,848 / 1,857 / 1,430
Curb weight (kg): 2,010
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo inline-six cylinder with EQ Boost and electric auxiliary compressor
Horsepower: 429 hp @ 6,100 rpm
Torque: 384 lb-ft @ 1,800 - 5,800 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.6
Tires: 245/40R19 front; 275/35R19 rear