Mercedes E-class AMG E53 Estate – long-term review 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 25th March
Long-term review

Mercedes E-class AMG E53 Estate – long-term review

£67,515/£68,200 as tested / £1,200 pcm
Published: 20 Aug 2021


  • SPEC

    AMG E53



  • BHP


  • 0-62


What's AMG's hybrid family E-Class estate like to live with?

After years of coveting a Q-car stealth estate, a car that slips under the radar like an F-117 Nighthawk, here it is. The Mercedes AMG E53 is the sort of thing that always appealed to me when I was young and stupid, partly because it’s the conceptual opposite of the hot hatch I probably was driving back then and it’s always fun to mess with people’s expectations.

Now I’m, erm, older, and have acquired the teenaged children, the dog, and the regrets. You need an estate to put all that stuff into.

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The E-Class has also changed over the years. The definitive Stuttgart taxi, unwitting star of countless espionage spy thrillers, sober-suited preferred transport of the German middle classes: it’s all things to all sorts of men and women, yet strangely anonymous. As the Mercedes model range has proliferated in a myriad directions, the Ronseal nature of the E-Class looks increasingly appealing assuming you don’t live in Alderley Edge and play for a Premiership football team.

It also shifts serious units for Mercedes: the current model has been on sale since 2017 and has just breezed past the 1.2 million mark.

TG’s newly arrived E53 points the way forward for a more restrained sort of AMG. This is a mild hybrid whose 48-volt ‘EQ boost’ hardware is good for 21bhp, mostly used to give the 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin turbo an extra low-end kick. Back in 2009, I leased an AMG CLS 63 for a year, a car I still miss eleven years later mostly because of its naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 (and the sound it made, if not its fuel consumption).

No room for that sort of shenanigans any more. Recipient of a recent mid-life facelift, the E53’s petrol-electric powertrain remains as before: peak power is 429bhp with torque topping out at 384lb ft, although the hybrid drive bit can apparently add 184lb ft which adds up to a more AMG-y 568 torques.

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Not that it actually happens in reality. Nope, this is supposed to be a more efficient and comfortable long-distance cruiser rather than the tyre-shredding, perma-sideways monster of old. Early impressions are of a car whose potential remains mostly under house arrest unless you really want to liberate it.

If it’s mid-range sledgehammer wallop you’re after, this isn’t the place, and it’s rarely the time either. As with most fast cars circa 2021, the bandwidth is there but the default set-up is about efficiency: 29.7mpg claimed, and 216g/km of CO2 is impressive indeed for a car of this performance potential.

The nine-speed auto ’box slips through its ratios with almost sheepish haste, and everything has a surprising lightness of touch for the artist formerly known as AMG. I’ll dig around for more because I know it’s there.

This rolling experimentation extends to the interior, too. The central 12.3 multi-media display can be accessed via a centre console touchpad or newly as a touchscreen. This might be because the touchpad is touchier than a Tory cabinet minister who’s just been caught in flagrante delicto.

Indeed, this whole area is where I do feel my age: like all new Mercs, the E53 is connected up the wazoo, promises voice activation that actually works, and has a bunch of apps. I don’t know what any of them do but I intend to find out.

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