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Driven: Mercedes-AMG electrifies with E53 trio

Low volume, positive customer reaction expected for first mild-hybrid Mercedes-AMG

18 Oct 2018

MERCEDES-Benz Cars Australia/Pacific says its first mild-hybrid AMG model, the E53, will bring new customers to the high-performance brand, even if volume expectations for the large-size Sedan, Coupe and Cabriolet are low.
Speaking to GoAuto last week at the E53 national media launch in Victoria, Mercedes-Benz Cars Australia/Pacific head of media relations and product communications Jerry Stamoulis revealed that the E53 plays in a segment that was previously vacant.
“The E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet line is very different to what we had in the past,” he said. “It’s been doing quite well, and the E53 really is a new customer. We’ve got C63, and we’ve got E63, and this is a new market that we think doesn’t exist.
“The E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, at that price range under $200,000, we recognise it as a unique customer, and adding the E53, with the (mild-hybrid) technology … we don’t expect high volumes from it, but we’re sure it’s going to do well, especially with the Sedan as well.”
Mr Stamoulis was coy about how much of E-Class volume the E53 will account for, or even the degree to which its E63 big brother will be more popular. 
“I think because it’s a new model, it’s hard to say,” he said. “It could be 10 per cent, similar to other AMG models.
“E63 has been around for a lot longer, so we really won’t know until we see the full life of the car.”
Sales of the E-Class to the end of September this year have significantly backtracked in Sedan and All-Terrain wagon guises (1197 units, -22.8%), while the Coupe and Cabriolet’s combined volume has conversely improved (548, +5.0%).
Nonetheless, the four-doors are the best-selling models in their $70,000-plus large-car segment by a large margin, while the two-doors currently place third in their $80,000-plus sportscar class.
When asked how E53 customers specifically differ from those buying a regular E-Class variant, Mr Stamoulis indicated that performance is important to them, not hybridisation.
“We think that most of our customers know it’s an AMG,” he said. “Once they find out about the (mild-hybrid) technology, I think the vehicle will appeal to them even more.
“It’s one of those things; it’s going to tick a few boxes for them before they even consider or understand it has a 48V system.”
Mr Stamoulis added that customers are not expected to react negatively to the hybridisation of AMG models, given that they still embody the brand’s key traits.
“I think so long as the vehicle delivers the performance, handling and, in an AMG, what’s really important is the sound … then it’s not even a consideration,” he said.
“Everyone understands that we’re moving towards turbocharged, mild hybrid, hybrid or even full electric, and I don’t think anyone’s too concerned about how the power’s delivered, so long as the emotion’s still there and the performance is still there.”
As reported, the E53 starts from $167,129 before on-road costs in Sedan form – $7889 more than its E43 predecessor – while the Coupe and Cabriolet check in at $172,729 and $181,329 respectively.
The E53’s 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine features two turbochargers: one traditional unit fed by exhaust gases, while the other has an electric auxiliary compressor working up to 3000rpm. As a result, it produces 320kW of power at 6100rpm and 520Nm of torque from 1800 to 5800rpm.
Being a mild hybrid, the E53 features a starter-alternator electric motor, dubbed EQ Boost, which delivers an additional 16kW and 250Nm up to 2500rpm, and feeds the 48V on-board electrical system alongside the traditional 12V set-up that continues to power the lights, infotainment system and controls.
This set-up combines with Mercedes-AMG’s nine-speed Speedshift automatic transmission and rear-biased 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system with fully variable torque distribution to help the E53 sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds (Coupe) to 4.5s (Sedan and Cabriolet).
EQ Boost also enables coasting functionality and extended capabilities for the idle-stop system, both of which helps to reduce fuel consumption over a traditional internal-combustion engine.
Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test ranges from 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres (Sedan) to 9.0L/100km (Cabriolet), while carbon dioxide emissions have been tested between 199 grams per kilometre (Sedan) to 204g/km (Cabriolet) .
The E53 rides on multi-chamber, self-levelling air suspension, dubbed AMG Ride Control+, with adaptive dampers and harder spring rates that help reduce body roll, while its electric power steering is speed-sensitive and features a variable ratio.
Five Dynamic Select driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual – allow the driver to alter engine, transmission, steering and suspension settings while on the move.
Braking power is provided by ventilated discs at all four corners, measuring 370mm with four-piston fixed callipers up front, and 360mm with single-pot floating stoppers at the rear.
Standard equipment includes a selectable AMG Performance exhaust system, 20-inch alloy wheels, an AMG exterior styling package and a bootlid-mounted lip spoiler.
Inside, dual 12.3-inch displays are powered by Mercedes-Benz’s Comand infotainment system, while sports seats and steering wheel, Nappa leather upholstery and a Burmester surround-sound system feature alongside the Night and Air Balance packages.
While a panoramic sunroof is fitted to the Sedan and Coupe, their Cabriolet sibling instead features an acoustic soft-top, an Aircap automatic draught-stop system and front Airscarf neck heating.
Energizing Comfort Control, which links the air-conditioning, seat functionality, surface heating and music together to create different driving moods, is bundled in with the Coupe and Cabriolet.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep and steering assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, active blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, traffic sign recognition, driver attention warning and tyre pressure monitoring.

2018 Mercedes-AMG E53 pricing*
Sedan (a) $167,129
Coupe (a) $172,729
Cabriolet (a) $181,329
*Excludes on-road costs

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