Don’t think, just drive

Mercedes’ line-up is au­to­mo­tive string the­ory. But this one makes per­fect sense. By Colin Over­land

CAR (UK) - - FIRST DRIVES -

THE NEW E53 Coupe uses an en­gine that’s slowly spread­ing across the up­per reaches of the Daim­ler em­pire. It has a body that looks like both the C-Class and S-Class Coupes and also re­sem­bles the CLS (which is avail­able with the same 53 en­gine). Eh? Mercedes’ model line-up is un­doubt­edly a tor­tu­ous Venn di­a­gram – but on the road the E53 Coupe is an oa­sis of san­ity.

It sounds a bit sweep­ing, but the 53 en­gine is the per­fect match for the E-Class Coupe body. It’s much less sporty in feel than AMG’s 43 V6 and 63 V8, but has a glo­ri­ous smooth torqui­ness that’s ut­terly in keep­ing with the cruiser/GT vibe that the E Coupe em­bod­ies. If you flick the C, and slide all the self-driv­ing con­trols up to max in the S, you sim­ply guide the E.

The en­gine is a petrol in­line-six with a tur­bocharger sup­ple­mented by an elec­tric com­pres­sor, which kicks in at zero revs in the way a fume-driven turbo can’t. As well as a con­ven­tional 12v elec­tri­cal sys­tem, the 53 has a 48v sys­tem, at the heart of which is a starter-gen­er­a­tor lo­cated be­tween the en­gine and trans­mis­sion.

This multi-task­ing EQ Boost sys­tem can cap­ture sur­plus brak­ing en­ergy, it can power func­tions such as the wa­ter pump, it runs the en­gine stop-start sys­tem in traf­fic, and it’s be­hind Cruise mode, where the en­gine can briefly cut out and restart at speed. The aim is to make the pow­er­plant cleaner and less thirsty but no less fun.

It’s a fan­tas­ti­cally well cho­sen en­gine for the E Coupe (which is also avail­able with a va­ri­ety of other per­fectly good petrol and diesel units). The com­bi­na­tion cre­ates a cruiser that can cor­ner, pam­per and ex­cite de­pend­ing on how the mood takes you. And although you might think the S-Class Coupe is the same sort of thing but more lux­u­ri­ous, it in re­al­ity feels much, much big­ger and less nim­ble. The C-Class Coupe, in con­trast, is all about the agility but loses the lux­ury. The E53 does a dif­fer­ent job to the CLS too – the CLS is big­ger and in­fin­itely su­pe­rior for those who reg­u­larly carry adult pas­sen­gers, be­cause its rear doors make ac­cess so much eas­ier, even though the E Coupe’s rear seats are plenty roomy enough once you’re in.

But ul­ti­mately it’s the en­gine that dis­tin­guishes the E53. So much use­ful power, in­stantly avail­able, de­liv­ered with­out fuss, in per­fect har­mony with chas­sis and electrics. Lovely.

MERCEDES AMG E53

> Price £64,790 > En­gine 2999cc 24v turbo 6-cyl, 429bhp @ 6100rpm, 384lb ft @ 1800rpm > Trans­mis­sion 9-speed auto, all-wheel drive > Per­for­mance 4.4sec 0Ž62mph, 155mph, 32.5mpg, 203g/km CO2 > Weight 1970kg > On sale Now

Rat­ing *****

VER­DICT Low-key looks but glo­ri­ous ap­pli­ance of tech

A per­fect blend of en­gine and body heads o to oblit­er­ate some Venn di­a­grams

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