Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Mercedes-AMG E 53: this new hybrid car is a step in the right direction

It's not trailblazer, but it offers more poke than your average part-petrol, part-electric vehicle

AMG, the dedicated high-performance brand that falls under Mercedes’ umbrella, is undergoing a change of direction. Noted for its fiery creations, in recent times it has taken a more thoughtful view. The cars are still speedy, but there’s a nod towards making new models more efficient. The next thing you know, it’ll be producing a hybrid. Oh, hang on … it has.

The vehicle we’re talking about is the Mercedes-AMG E 53 4Matic+ Coupe – and if you’re looking for a bit of grunt in a vehicle that’s rather more fuel-efficient than you’d expect in a tarmac tearaway, keep reading.

As you’ve probably guessed, the E 53 is not as blisteringly powerful as it could be. That said, it still has plenty more poke than your average part-petrol, part-electric job, and you won’t have to worry about being beaten in a drag race by a Toyota Prius any time soon. I mean, 435 horsepower? 0-100 kilometres per hour in 4.4 seconds? It’s not exactly a lawnmower, is it?

That powertrain sounds properly throaty and, any time the E 53 is stationary, it’s letting you know it’s happy if you give it the beans, and won’t resent you for doing so. Speed cameras might, though, so it’s probably best to follow your common sense rather than being hypnotised by the charisma of the car and its mesmeric engine thrum. “The engine told me to do it” is not the kind of excuse that works with traffic police.

And the rubellite red colour (quoting that name from the brochure) does nothing to lessen the excitement factor, either.

So the E 53 responds quickly, with little in the way of turbo lag, and it’s smooth enough to function as a grand tourer you’d be happy to take on a proper journey.

Plenty on that dashboard to keep you entertained.
Plenty on that dashboard to keep you entertained.

If you’re planning on using this to transport more than two people – and it’s spacious enough to do so – bear in mind that the electric seats are not fast. Anyone sitting in the back had better not expect to exit the vehicle at the speed the Dukes of Hazzard did the General Lee. Having said that, no one is likely to complain about staying put in the E 53. The comfy, two-tone leather seating underlines the quality in an already smart vehicle, as do the carbon-fibre trim and dual-screen instrument cluster.

Back in black.
Back in black.

Calling the E 53 a trailblazer is overstating the case, but it feels like a car that’s definitely part of an evolving automotive landscape. Manufacturers are rightly under pressure to make vehicles that are more efficient, and the E 53 feels like something that is very much of the moment. A hybrid sports coupe with a bit of pizzazz is not something any manufacturer would have considered until fairly recently.

This is a sports car you can feel OK about driving. It sits squarely alongside AMG hot-to-trot stablemates the A45 S and CLA 45 S, which were unveiled in a blaze of publicity in August. These are two cars that are fast and sporty but with positively diminutive (by the marque’s standards) two-litre, four-cylinder engines.

All suitably futuristic on the E 53 front, then. You won’t necessarily feel like you can don a halo when you’re driving it, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Updated: November 14, 2019 03:01 PM

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