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Mercedes-AMG E 53 2021 review: Coupe

The E53 Coupe has been facelifted for 2021, and it's better looking and better equipped than ever.
EXPERT RATING
8.3
The E53 large car broke plenty of new ground for Mercedes-AMG in 2018. Three years later, it's been treated to a facelift that doesn't really mess with what's been a largely successful formula. And yes, that's very good news.

The E53 range broke new ground for Mercedes-AMG when it debuted in 2018. Not only was it the E-Class large car’s new ‘entry-level’ performance option, but it was also Affalterbach’s first model to combine an inline six-cylinder engine with a mild-hybrid system.

Needless to say, the E53 was an intriguing prospect at the time, and now it’s come back into frame following a midlife facelift, which doesn’t appear to mess with what turned out to be a rather successful formula.

And with an E63 S flagship performance option still not available in the two-door E-Class line-up, the E53 is as good as it gets. But as you’ll find out when you read this review of its Coupe body-style, that is actually really great news. Happy reading.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2021: E53 4Matic+ EQ (hybrid)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency9.3L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$162,400

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

The E53 Coupe already had an alluring exterior design, but in facelifted form, it looks even better.

The big changes are up front, where the E53 Coupe now has Mercedes-AMG’s signature Panamericana grille insert, with the multi-louvre aesthetic previously the reserve of its ‘63’ models.

In fact, the entire fascia has been redesigned, with the grille flipped upside down, while the Multibeam LED headlights are flatter and therefore angrier. Naturally, the bonnet and bumper have been tweaked to match, with the former featuring strong powerdomes.

The E53 Coupe already had an alluring exterior design, but in facelifted form, it looks even better. The E53 Coupe already had an alluring exterior design, but in facelifted form, it looks even better.

Around the swoopy sides, a sporty set of black 20-inch alloy wheels is new, matching the window trim, while the only differences at the rear are the fresh graphics of the LED tail-lights.

Yep, the E53 Coupe still has a subtle bootlid spoiler and a prominent diffuser insert, which integrates the quad round tailpipes of its sports exhaust system.

Inside, the midlife facelift really makes itself known with its new flat-bottomed steering wheel with capacitive buttons and haptic feedback. This set-up is… fiddly, with presses often confused for swipes, so it's not exactly a step in the right direction.

And that’s particularly annoying because these controls are used for the carryover 12.3-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which are now powered by Mercedes’ MBUX multimedia system, which bundles in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

The big changes are up front, where the E53 Coupe now has Mercedes-AMG’s signature Panamericana grille insert. The big changes are up front, where the E53 Coupe now has Mercedes-AMG’s signature Panamericana grille insert.

While now familiar, this set-up remains the benchmark in nearly all regards and is therefore a brilliant upgrade for the E53 Coupe, thanks to its speed and breadth of functionality and input methods, including always-on voice control and a touchpad.

Materials-wise, Nappa leather upholstery covers the seats and steering wheel as well as the armrests and door inserts, while Artico leatherette trims the upper dashboard and door shoulders.

Conversely, hard, shiny plastics adorn the lower door panels. Given that ‘cow hide’ and other soft-touch materials are used on most other surfaces, it’s unusual that Mercedes-AMG didn’t go the whole way.

Elsewhere, open-pore wood trim features prominently, while metallic accents brighten things up alongside the sporty stainless-steel pedals and smile-inducing ambient lighting.

Nappa leather upholstery covers the seats and steering wheel as well as the armrests and door inserts. Nappa leather upholstery covers the seats and steering wheel as well as the armrests and door inserts.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Measuring 4835mm long (with a 2873mm wheelbase), 1860mm wide and 1430mm tall, the E53 Coupe is a genuinely large car, which is great news for practicality.

The boot has a pleasing cargo capacity of 425L, but it can be increased to an undisclosed volume by stowing the 40/20/40 split-fold rear bench via the handy manual release latches.

What really impresses is the amount of space inside. What really impresses is the amount of space inside.

It’s worth noting that while the aperture is wide, it’s not tall, which could be a problem for bulkier items alongside the tall load lip, although two tie-down points are on hand for securing loose items.

However, what really impresses is the amount of space inside. While the front sports seats are comfortable, the two rear passengers are in for the bigger treat, with room plentiful, mercifully ending the argument of who gets stuck in the uncomfortable second row.

Behind our 184cm driving position, there’s two inches of legroom as well as an inch of headroom, although toe-room is almost non-existent.

Being a four-seater, the E53 Coupe divides its rear occupants with a tray that contains two cupholders, while they also have access to two side cubbies and a small central cubby with two USB-C ports. This cubby is positioned between the air vents at the rear of the centre console.

While the front sports seats are comfortable, the two rear passengers are in for the bigger treat. While the front sports seats are comfortable, the two rear passengers are in for the bigger treat.

And yes, even child seats can be fitted, with two ISOFIX and two top-tether anchorage points available should they be required. In fact, the long front doors make this task less challenging, although those big doors do become problematic in tight carparks.

All of that’s not to say occupants in the first row aren’t treated well, because they are, with the centre console’s cubby featuring two cupholders, a wireless smartphone charger, a USB-C port and a 12V power outlet.

Other storage options include the decently sized central bin, which contains another two USB-C ports, while the glovebox is also of a decent size, and then there’s the overhead sunglasses holder.

The centre console features two cupholders, a wireless smartphone charger, a USB-C port and a 12V power outlet. The centre console features two cupholders, a wireless smartphone charger, a USB-C port and a 12V power outlet.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Priced from $164,800 plus on-road costs, the facelifted E53 Coupe is actually a staggering $14,465 more affordable than its predecessor.

But if you’re not a fan of its body-style, the $162,300 E53 sedan (-$11,135) and $173,400 E53 Cabriolet (-$14,835) are also available.

Either way, standard equipment not already mentioned includes metallic paintwork, dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors with heating, keyless entry, rear privacy glass and a power-operated bootlid.

The facelifted E53 Coupe is actually a staggering $14,465 more affordable than its predecessor. The facelifted E53 Coupe is actually a staggering $14,465 more affordable than its predecessor.

Inside, push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, a 590W Burmester surround-sound system with 13 speakers, an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, a power-adjustable steering column, power-adjustable front seats with heating, dual-zone climate control and an auto-dimming rearview-mirror feature.

Direct rivals for the E53 Coupe are non-existent, with the closest being the smaller – and therefore much more affordable – BMW M440i Coupe ($118,900) and Audi S5 Coupe ($106,500). Yep, it’s a unique offering on the market, this Merc.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The E53 Coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine that produces a hearty 320kW of power at 6100rpm and 520Nm of torque from 1800-5800rpm.

The unit in question has one traditional turbocharger and an electric-powered compressor (EPC), which is available at engine speeds up to 3000rpm and can spool up to 70,000rpm in just 0.3 seconds for instantaneous punch.

The E53 Coupe sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in a handy 4.4 seconds. The E53 Coupe sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in a handy 4.4 seconds.

But that’s not all, because the E53 Coupe also has a 48V mild-hybrid system called EQ Boost. As its name suggests, it has an integrated starter-generator (ISG) that can provide up to 16kW and 250Nm of temporary electric boost.

Mated to a nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission with redesigned paddle-shifters, and Mercedes-AMG’s fully variable 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, the E53 Coupe sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in a handy 4.4 seconds.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The E53 Coupe’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 9.3L/100km, while its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 211g/km.

Given the performance on offer, both claims are pretty good. And they’re made possible by the E53 Coupe’s 48V EQ Boost mild-hybrid system, which has coasting and extended idle-stop functionality.

The E53 Coupe’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 9.3L/100km. The E53 Coupe’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 9.3L/100km.

That said, in our real-world testing, we averaged a more realistic 12.2L/100km over 146km of driving, although the launch test route only involved high-speed country roads, so expect a higher result in metropolitan areas.

For reference, the E53 Coupe has a 66L fuel tank, and it will only drink more expensive 98RON premium petrol.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

ANCAP awarded the fifth-generation E-Class sedan and Estate its maximum five-star rating in 2016, although it doesn’t apply to the E53 Coupe, due to its differing body-style.

That said, advanced driver-assist systems still extend to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep and steering assist (including emergency), adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, traffic-sign recognition, driver-attention alert, high-beam assist, active blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert, tyre-pressure monitoring, park assist, surround-view cameras and front and rear parking sensors.

ANCAP awarded the fifth-generation E-Class sedan and Estate its maximum five-star rating in 2016. ANCAP awarded the fifth-generation E-Class sedan and Estate its maximum five-star rating in 2016.

Other standard safety equipment includes nine airbags, anti-skid brakes and the usual electronic traction and stability-control systems.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Like all Mercedes-AMG models, the E53 Coupe comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is currently the benchmark in the premium market. It also comes with five years of roadside assistance.

Better yet, the E53 Coupe’s service intervals are rather long, at every year or 25,000km – whichever comes first.

It’s also available with a five-year/125,000km capped-price-servicing plan, but it costs an expensive $5100 in total, or an average of $1020 per visit, with the E53 Coupe’s fifth trip charging $1700 alone. Ouch.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

If an E53 Coupe was your daily driver, you’d be very happy, because its balance of comfort and performance is just about as good as it gets.

Stick the boot in and the engine responds with a level of enthusiasm that only electrification can provide. Not only does the ISG provide timely thrust, but the EPC helps the E53 Coupe reach its maximum torque, although it has to work harder for peak power.

That said, despite the addition of the EQ Boost system and the EPC, the E53 Coupe still feels like a proper Mercedes-AMG model, staying true to the high-performance mantra while offering a different approach.

Critically, all the drama is there, as it charges towards the horizon with intent as the transmission swaps gears smoothly, providing relatively quick shifts and revving on the down changes when required. It all adds up to a properly exciting drive.

However, it’s the E53 Coupe’s sports exhaust system that’s likely to command all the attention with its crackles, pops and overall booming soundtrack in the Sport mode. It can also be manually engaged in any mode by pressing a button in the centre console.

If an E53 Coupe was your daily driver, you’d be very happy. If an E53 Coupe was your daily driver, you’d be very happy.

And given the E53 Coupe’s 4Matic+ system is fully variable, it offers plenty of grip when briskly accelerating and enjoying the soundtrack, but its rear end can still step out briefly when cornering hard.

Speaking of handling, the E53 Coupe goes around corners surprisingly well, defying its large dimensions and considerable 2021kg kerb weight by exhibiting strong body control.

Coming into bends, the E53 Coupe can also lean on its sports brakes, which pull up with absolute confidence.

And when you’re guiding the E53 Coupe through the twisty stuff, the electric power steering comes to the fore, with its speed-sensitivity and variable ratio.

The steering set-up is somewhat disappointing at times, however, with the feedback not quite up to the level of a proper performance car.

On well-maintained highways and city roads, it’s got suitable levels of smoothness. On well-maintained highways and city roads, it’s got suitable levels of smoothness.

That said, it is quite direct and feels meaty in hand – two traits that are necessary for success – with this heft increased in the Sport drive mode. Comfort is where it’s at, though, if you ask me.

That said, the E53 Coupe’s suspension uses air springs and adaptive dampers to make it a comfortable cruiser.

Sure, this set-up’s tune does prove to be a little firm on lower-quality country roads, with most bumps and lumps felt by occupants, but on well-maintained highways and city roads, it’s got suitable levels of smoothness.

In keeping with this luxurious feel, the E53 Coupe’s Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels are pretty damn good, with tyre roar and wind whistle easily missed while enjoying its aforementioned Burmester sound system.

Verdict

As it turns out, the automotive world really doesn’t need an E63 S Coupe, because the E53 Coupe really does give you all you’ll ever need.

Simply put, the E53 Coupe’s balance of performance and luxury is bang on, while an E63 S Coupe would arguably prioritise one too much over the other.

Indeed, if you’re interested in a ‘relatively affordable’ grand-tourer that can get up and go when required, you could do a lot worse than the E53 Coupe.

Pricing guides

$175,400
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$96,900
Highest Price
$253,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
E300 2.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $130,900 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2021 E300 Pricing and Specs
E53 4Matic+ EQ (hybrid) 3.0L, Hyb/PULP, 9 SP $170,900 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2021 E53 4Matic+ EQ (hybrid) Pricing and Specs
E350 EQ (hybrid) 2.0L, Hyb/PULP, 9 SP AUTO $141,300 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2021 E350 EQ (hybrid) Pricing and Specs
E200 2.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $101,900 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2021 E200 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Design9
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Safety9
Ownership8
Driving8
Justin Hilliard
Deputy News Editor

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