2019 Mercedes E53

PHOENIX — Please excuse my being didactic, but to fully appreciate the 2019 Mercedes E53 coupe, it will help the reader to have a modicum of high-performance automotive knowledge, and an interest that goes beyond getting from point A to point B with a reasonable amount of gas and least amount of trouble-free driving.

The auto-buying public has 100+ variants of Mercedes models from which to choose. The mid-sized E Class alone is offered as a sedan, coupe, convertible or wagon. All are exceedingly sporty and luxurious, and are the brand’s most popular choice.

For the driver that wants more performance, those four vehicles are also offered as AMG premium models with an irresistible list of additional features, including a potent hand-built engine with massive horsepower, 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, gobs of pound-feet torque, and an AMG-enhanced 9G-TRONIC transmission that turns the seemingly innocent looking E Class into a masterpiece of a performance monster that is AMG’s calling card.

This torrent of power comes courtesy of a new-for-2019 turbocharged inline-six with an electric assist boost system that incorporates some hybrid technology to deliver 429 horsepower (up from 396 in last year’s E43) and 384 lb-ft of torque and a new name to match: E53.

It has standard sport suspension based on air body control, and AMG Dynamic Select which allows the driver to change driving parameters at the flick of a switch. There are various modes available from Comfort to Sport; Sport+, Individual and Eco.

Behind the wheel, the car rockets out of the gate like Usain Bolt in a 200-meter sprint and can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.0 with instant response and no turbo lag while snapping through the gears via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph.

Consistent with all Mercedes product offerings, there’s a long list of options one could add and our test E53 came equipped with $17,840 in extras including Nappa leather seating and carbon fiber trim; 20-inch AMG twin five-spoke wheels; performance exhaust system; heated, ventilated and massaging front seats; head-up display; and a driver-a
ssistance package that includes a host of safety features, including rear end collision protection, active steering assist, automatic speed takeover, evasive steering assist, active emergency stop, and more.

It also came equipped with the new semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist function, a radar- and camera-based assistance system that supports the driver with changing lanes on multi-lane roads. It’s a sub-function of DRIVE PILOT.

When the driver activates the turn indicator for more than two seconds to change lanes, the car steers into the adjacent lane. The vehicle will only change lanes autonomously if the sensors do not detect any vehicles in the relevant safety zone. It is inconsequential whether the car wants to change to the left lane for overtaking or wants to return to the right-hand lane. I used it continually on a long drive between Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., and it worked flawlessly.

Distinguishing the AMG coupe from the regular Mercedes E-Class is a new hood with its pair of power domes, chrome twin exhaust pipes in the rear, and a new rear diffuser. Those changes are subtle and we think there could be more AMG differentiation with some verve and audaciousness.

The inside, the E53 is a mesmerizing display of obscenely excellent switchgear, advanced technology, exceptional materials, fit and finish. It’s an absolute showcase of stunning operational and cosseting features that just blows the competition away. For example, most vehicles in this class will have heated, cooled and massaging seats, but the E53 adds a rapid heating function to the steering wheel, door armrests and center console armrests along with the flexibility for each front passenger to control and adjust their own settings.

There’s also 64-color ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch dual widescreen digital instrument cluster for the infotainment and instrument cluster. They share the same glass cover, making it look like a really wide screen. There’s an air-balance cabin air purification system and an air fragrance atomizer with ionizing function system via a perfume vial in the glove compartment, which gently flows into the vehicle through the air vents, if desired. We especially like the standard red seatbelts, but they can be swapped out for black if you so choose.

There are touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel that give you the flexibility to control and adjust various screens and menus on the instrument cluster, including the Burmeister surround sound system, navigation and other operational functions. You could literally spend hours playing with all the functions, adjustments, lighting and features to meet and exceed your needs and demands.

The E53 does have room for four people, but there’s not a lot of room in the back seat and it isn’t easy getting in and out of there. Trunk space is also at a premium and is the smallest in its class. It’s more of a grand touring coupe for two people and their luggage for a long weekend getaway. The cabin is supremely quiet with good visibility, especially for a coupe.

Overall there’s a lot to love about the new E53. For starters, there’s the new EQ electric boost hybrid system that delivers more speed and better fuel efficiency than the outgoing model. We did, however, wish for more might and muscle like we experienced when testing the smaller V-8 powered C63 with its 469 base horsepower.

We especially liked the optional AMG Performance Seats and the carbon fiber trim inside. And finally, the new E53 is a technophile’s Super Bowl, with its gigantic and changeable digital instrument cluster, control nodules on the steering wheel that are touch-capacitive, ambient cabin lighting options and DRIVE PILOT. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, the new E53 model is better than ever.

— Jim Prueter