"What we’re driving" is Automotive Engineering’s series of quick-strike vehicle reviews.
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Select “Sport+”, floor the gas pedal, listen to the engine and exhaust notes, and the essence of Mercedes-AMG’s latest E 53 sedan is sensationally clear. But shouldn’t this combo be V8-sourced from AMG’s impressive repertoire rather than a 3.0-L in-line modular six, aided by an electrically driven auxiliary compressor?
“There are different reasons why we decided to use the 6-cylinder in-line for the E 53, but particularly because it is very compact,” explained Christian Enderle, Director of Drive System Development, Mercedes-AMG. “This narrow design and the spatial separation of inlet and outlet, create space for an exhaust gas after treatment system close to the engine, which leads to better emissions. Also, the 6-cylinder in-line runs more smoothly, as the primary and secondary inertia forces and torque are balanced.”
It does indeed but in the E 53, with a dual personality ranging from almost quiescence to practically race car assertiveness from its Performance Exhaust and Dynamic Select Sport+ mode, that solution makes it a huge delight to drive.
The car starts with a very subdued growl that won’t wake the neighbors, yet within a few hundred meters it becomes very clear that it isn’t a “mere” E-Class. AMG Ride Control air-based suspension, snappy AMG 9-speed auto transmission, and 48V inline EQ Boost starter/generator positioned between engine and gearbox adding 250 N·m (184 lb·ft) to deliver complementary response to the ICE, together make the car’s raison d’être clear. Maximum torque is 520 N·m (384 lb·ft) from 1800-5800 rpm with a combined mild hybrid (16kW) and ICE output of 320kW (429 hp) to deliver 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds via Sport+.
With 4Matic+ all-wheel drive, the E 53 is a delight to drive; it does feel firm, it isn’t a limo-like smoothie (although the engine is also available in the S500 L AMG line, which certainly is) but journeys long or short would always be enthusiastically anticipated. Welcome back the straight six.
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