The 4-door Mercedes-AMG E53, the next step ‘up’ from the 43’s offered by Mercedes Benz Thailand was scintillating to drive, and was the epitome of a ‘sleeper’ car. I was lucky enough to drive the E53 for a week, through cities, country roads, and motorways.
At first look, there are no discernable differences between the E53 and a normal E-Class. There is a small ducktail on the trunk, sportier rims, and much larger brakes. Toward the rear-end of the car we see the same ‘fake’ exhausts that are present in the C43’s, which is a shame, but it seems that all the manufacturers are doing this nowadays. The real exhaust is positioned in the middle of each side. Nonetheless, it looks like a sophisticated and sedated road car, looking right at home in the city centre, or on sweeping country roads.
A beautifully wide centre screen welcomes you into the E53, joining the dashboard and centre console in perfect harmony. In the carbon-fiber center console you’ll find some cup holders, air-conditioning controls, and various UI shortcut buttons to quickly select between ‘Car’ settings and ‘Media’ for example. The E53 also features the dial-scroll selector with a touchpad on top. I feel that there isn’t really a need for both, and the newer Mercedes models have ousted the now-aging dial selector in favour of the touchpad. On the steering wheel, there are 2 sets of controls on each side. The left touch sensor to controls the centre console, meaning you can adjust without taking your hand off the wheel. The right touch sensor controls the dashboard display options, and also the HUD options. Along with those there are controls for cruise control, speed limiter, and media controls. This was the first car I’ve driven with the HUD, and found it to be very useful when performance driving, and making sure you shift at the correct moment. When you engage Manual gear selection, a racing-style shift indicator is shown and gives you an intuitive guide of when to shift up. Once again, I did feel that the cabin of the car becomes quite hot on a sunny day, so you need the fan speed quite high to maintain the temperature. This may in part be due to the large sunroof, but I like sunroofs so it wasn’t a big issue.
With around 40 more horsepower than the C43, I was expecting big things from the E53. It certainly delivered and even exceeded my already high expectations. This car launches up to 100km/h in just over 4 seconds, and for a car that looks like any other E-Class, that’s insane. The 20-inch tires do make the ride quite stiff, but it handled like a dream. The air suspension kept the car flat and level through the corners, maintaining a balanced weight distribution to the tires. The ride height is also adjustable, should you need to go in or out of parking garages with steep angles. I actually used this function while navigating through a bumpy road under construction, and it worked perfectly. But the most impressive aspect of this car was the sounds. Not only does the engine sound great going up through the gears, it sounds even better going down them. The E53 pops and crackles like an early 2000’s F1 car, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shout for joy when I heard the first pop. It’s an absolutely intoxicating sound, the type of sound you’d expect to come from a ricer… only this is coming from a stock E53 4-door… I found myself accelerating and releasing, downshifting, more times than I’d care to admit just to hear that sound. I did find the E53 more economical than the C43, perhaps it had a larger fuel tank, but taking into account my non-economical driving, it would still manage just over 600km per tank.
Once again it is difficult to find fault in this exceptional car. Again, I’d have to say that the fake exhausts strike a bad chord with me, but hearing the sound that comes out of them makes everything forgiven and forgotten.
This car sparked a joy inside of me that I have never felt in a road car, so for that, and for those pops and crackles, this car must receive a 10/10. I’m extremely impressed with the E53, it certainly is a step above the competition when it comes to fast saloons in Thailand.
Engine – 3.0L Straight 6 Biturbo Petrol
Power – 429hp
Torque – 520Nm
Drivetrain – AWD
Gross Weight – 2495kg