2021 Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe 4MATIC+

There are worse places to spend time than inside the E 53, although that may be putting it mildly.
There are worse places to spend time than inside the E 53, although that may be putting it mildly.

by Nick Tragianis | December 8, 2021


If there’s one thing the three-pointed star is universally known for, it’s delivering luxury with a capital L. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe 4Matic+ embodies this to a tee — it’s stylish, positively sumptuous inside, and its inline-six under the hood make it a sublime cruiser. It has all the fixings a good luxury car should, and yet there’s just something that rubs me the wrong way.

Hold up, I think I’ve figured it out. It’s these three letters: A, M, and G.

Usually, when Mercedes sticks the AMG badge on a trunk, you’re in for a good time. Just like Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with luxury with a capital L, its AMG performance division is synonymous with insanity with a capital I. But it’s push to AMG-all-the-things has resulted in too much of a good thing, and the E 53 Coupe is the perfect example of this. Much like the GLA 35 we evaluated earlier this year, the E 53 is an AMG with an identity crisis.

The E53 Coupe shares its 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six with the standard E 450, albeit massaged a little — Mercedes like to say it’s been  “AMG-enhanced” — to produce more power. You’ve got 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque to play with, resulting in a brisk zero-to-100 km/h run in 4.4 seconds. Not too shabby, but there’s nothing particularly special about this engine; the sixer also appears throughout the rest of the E family, in addition to a number of higher-spec Benzes. It’s certainly not as ubiquitous as Mercedes’ turbo-four, but it’s a stark contrast to when AMG meant something handbuilt and a little more exclusive under the hood.

OK, fine, I’m nitpicking. Really, it’s hard to fault Mercedes’ twin-turbo inline-six in and of itself. Paired to a nine-speed automatic and sending those 429 horses to all four wheels, the engine is incredibly smooth and sounds fantastic — the whip-crack on upshifts at the redline, particularly with the exhaust in angry mode, is addictive. Still, I just can’t shake the feeling the two-door E is better off as an E 500, rather than an “AMG-enhanced” E 53: it’s a rocket off the line, but on the highway, it builds speed effortlessly and without that rip-snorting, stomach-in-your-throat drama you’d get in a “real” AMG. To be fair, the E 53 rides about as well as the full-send E 63: in anything outside of Comfort mode, it’s harsh over bumps, potholes, rough pavement, and other road imperfections.

Which only enforces the fact the E 53 should really be an E 500! Soften the suspension a little, and between the creamy inline-six, the precise steering, and the almost non-existent wind and road noise, the E Coupe could be a shining example of luxury with a capital L. Even fuel economy is surprisingly decent, thanks to Mercedes’ 48-volt mild hybrid system: the E 53 is rated at 11.5 L/100 kilometres in the city and 8.5 on the highway. Over 500-ish kilometres, the trip computer settled at 10.8 — respectable, considering I was just a tad too friendly with the go-fast pedal. Blame the delicious exhaust note.

Coupes are an inherently impractical proposition, especially compared to the rest of the E-Class lineup, which balances out its two-door indulgences (the E 53 is available both as a coupe and as a convertible) with a sensible sedan and two flavours of wagon. But I’ll be damned if the E 53 Coupe is admittedly stylish: from AMG’s so-called “Panamericana” grille up front to the stereotypical black-on-black theme; from the “pillarless” windows design to the exquisite interior, everything about the car suits Benz to a tee. The played-out black-on-black theme isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but in the right colour, the E 53 Coupe can be a looker.

There are also worse places to spend time than inside the E 53, although that may be putting it mildly. Lesser Benzes may fall short on delivering the experience you’d expect from something with a three-pointed star, but not the E-Class. Fit-and-finish is first-rate, the optional carbon fibre trim is handsome, controls are a blend of physical switchgear and Mercedes’ crisp and intuitive MBUX infotainment, and Mercedes’ nighttime ambiance is second to none. 

It’s even surprisingly roomy, as long as you aren’t too tall: folks up front who prefer to sit more upright might find headroom a challenge thanks to the sunroof, but the rear seats are surprisingly roomy. Still, part of you can’t help but wonder how it’ll all hold up in the long run — there are 24 functions on the steering wheel alone; will all those buttons keep working? Will those little robotic arms keep handing you your seatbelt in 10 years? How about the trunk release? 

Okay, that last one might be an issue with just this particular car. Despite our best efforts, we just could not open the trunk — and that’s a little important when you have to haul two kiddos’ worth of stuff for a fall day trip, and the back seats are off limits. Fortunately, my nine-year-old nephew was limber enough to crawl through the ski pass-through and pop open the trunk via the emergency release. Your mileage may vary.

Coming in at just over $112,000 as-tested, the E 53 Coupe isn’t exactly the strongest value proposition out there. That’s Challenger Hellcat, C63 AMG, M4, base 911, even LC 500 money — although if you exercise some restraint, it’s possible to keep the bottom line close to its slightly more reasonable $93,700 base price. Other cars in this price bracket do a better job that stir the soul in an upscale package, but few do luxury quite as well as Mercedes-Benz under $100K.

It’s just unfortunate that the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe 4Matic+ insists on being an AMG. The silky smooth engine, sumptuous interior, and stylish bodywork are all what you’d expect from a car like this, but you’re missing the thrills, drama, and exclusivity you’d expect from something wearing the AMG badge. The E 53 is an AMG too much — or perhaps more accurately, not enough.

See Also:

2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 All-Terrain

2021 Jaguar XF P300 R-Dynamic

2021 Volvo S60 T5 R-Design

Vehicle Specs
Engine Size
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
The DoubleClutch.ca Podcast

About Nick Tragianis

Managing Editor

Nick has more than a decade of experience shooting and writing about cars, and as a journalism grad, he's a staunch believer of the Oxford Comma despite what the Canadian Press says. He’s a passionate photographer and loves exploring the open road in anything he gets his hands on.

Current Toys: '90 MX-5 Miata, '00 M5, '16 GTI Autobahn