AMG’s six-cylinder hybrid E-Class remains a tellingly different prospect than the hotrod E63. May not satisfy all performance appetites, but pleasingly rounded and versatile.
This is the updated version of Mercedes-AMG’s medium-hot performance E-Class. The E53 is the prawn jalfrezi of the fast executive-car world, where an E63 might be something closer to a vindaloo: spicy, tasty – but perhaps just a little bit easier to stomach than the nuclear option.Or perhaps a jalfrezi isn’t the kind of takeaway cuisine that’s sufficiently innovative to do that comparison justice (more research required, clearly). Introduced as part of a new derivative-spanning family of 48-volt mild-hybridised AMG models three years ago, the E53 came powered by a six-cylinder petrol engine with an electrically driven turbocharger to boost its low-end response, and which also had propulsive electric motor drive assistance to call upon when needed.As such, it was part of a pretty bold departure from walloping-V8-mongers Affalterbach; a whole family of petrol-electric hybrids, of a sort. And now, three years on, it looks as if the gambit has stuck, and AMG’s showroom offering has genuinely been broadened out, with moves now being made that cement this car and its ‘53-badged electrified relations into the Mercedes-AMG showroom range with some permanence.In this mid-life facelifted form, the E53 gets many of the same interior and exterior styling revisions that Mercedes wrought on the regular E-Class range last year. It has also been through a dynamic retuning program intended to make it a bit more dynamically versatile. According to ex-AMG boss Tobias Moers, it now delivers “even more of a range between long-distance comfort and precise dynamism” than the car could command previously. Those must have been among the very last words than man uttered before slipping out of his branded padded jacket and ‘strolling’ out of the door to Aston Martin last year.The E53’s petrol-electric powertrain is unchanged. Mercedes’ claims for peak power and torque for it are fairly modest-sounding for this sort of car, at 429bhp and 384lb ft; but those don’t count any assistance from the car’s hybrid drive motor, which can apparently be worth as much as 184lb ft in the right circumstances.The E53 uses a tweaked version of Mercedes’ ‘stock’ nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission rather than the special ‘multi-clutch’ gearbox of the gruntier E63 S, and it has a different rear differential than the V8-powered model too. It has the same adaptively damped, three-chamber air suspension hardware as the E63 gets, though; and in this mid-life facelifted form it also gets the ‘AMG Dynamics’ intelligent traction control software that was saved for the V8 models previously.Mercedes-AMG’s press material also mentions a new and optional ‘AMG Dynamic Plus’ package for the E53, through which the ‘Race’ and ‘Drift’ driving modes also previously reserved for the V8-powered E63 can be added for extra cost. Now there’s an eye-catching addition. Unfortunately there’s no mention of that package in the car’s UK-market brochure, so it may very well be that Mercedes UK would rather keep that little bit of extra powder dry for the top-of-the-range version that spread it around more liberally. When an explanation for that omission is forthcoming from Mercedes UK, you’ll read it here first.