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New Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe 2018 review

The new Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe is one of the first 53-badged models to arrive in the UK, but what's it like on the road?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Mercedes’ new 53-badged AMG cars represent a perfect halfway house between the standard models and the fire-breathing 63 variants. The efficiency benefits of the electric compressor are negligible, but the system works well to optimise available performance. The E 53 isn’t the last word in dynamic ability, but as a fast, practical and beautifully built luxury coupe, it makes a strong case.

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Mercedes is busy electrifying its entire model range. From the humble C-Class to its S 560 e saloon; a further 10 full-EVs are due by 2022.

But in the melee of it all, the firm hasn’t forgotten about its AMG performance arm. As such, Mercedes has launched a new line of 53-badged models – and this E 53 Coupe is among the very first to arrive in the UK.

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Using the now familiar 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, Merc’s engineers have bolted on an electric compressor for 48v mild hybrid assistance. The system isn’t really designed to boost fuel efficiency – instead, it tries to eliminate turbo lag for faster responses.

In the real-world, that translates to quite impressive performance. The E 53 won’t pin you in your seat like its V8 siblings, but the way it builds speed is impressive. Bury the throttle on the exit of a roundabout and you’ll hit the national speed limit in the blink of an eye.

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But the E-Class Coupe is still a big car with serious heft to haul around. It isn’t the last word in dynamic ability – feeling stable and secure rather than particularly fun. That said, with the 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system and slick box, it’s more than adept at keeping up with quicker cars on a country road.

But the E 53 is just as happy wafting down the motorway, where it sits quietly and comfortably; the ride isn’t pan smooth over broken surfaces, but it’ll rise and fall beautifully over larger undulations. The E-Class’s semi-autonomous technology makes it a relaxing car to drive long distances, too.

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Apart from the improved responses, you rarely notice the 48v system working its magic, however. The engine shuts down earlier than you might imagine as you come to a halt, but there’s no opportunity for zero-emissions cruising or silent manoeuvres around town.

Yet those after a sporty coupe will quickly warm to the 53’s rorty exhaust note. It falls short of the E 63 saloon’s boisterous thunder clap (there’s no AMG E 63 Coupe, by the way), but it’s pleasingly tuneful under hard acceleration.

Of course, the cabin is as exquisite here as it is on all E-Class models, with the 12.3-inch widescreen dials coming as standard on all E 53 Coupes. Our car’s black leather and contrast red stitching is also included, alongside 64-colour ambient lighting and privacy glass.

Externally, 53 models are marked out by their unique round exhaust pipes and AMG badging. The body styling is subtle, complemented by 19-inch wheels and LED lights.

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