Affalterbach looks to a new high-performance PHEV powertrain for the replacement for the much-loved E63 super saloon

Find Mercedes-AMG E53 deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
Nearly-new car deals
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

The Mercedes-AMG E63 was a brash, loud, powerful super-saloon of a kind that isn’t easily forgotten and that only Affalterbach could make. To the dismay of a generation of dyed-in-the-wool performance car enthusiasts, it's no longer in production.

Sacrificed as part of Mercedes' wide-ranging electrification plans, one of the most multi-faceted of AMG’s modern-day performance cars has been laid to rest with a celebrated reputation built up over a period of 16 years and three model generations. And it has been indirectly replaced by this: the petrol-electric Mercedes-AMG E53 Hybrid 4Matic+.

This new headlining E-Class model, to be sold in the UK in both saloon and estate forms, may lack the character-defining V8 engine used by other key AMG models, but it doesn’t want for performance. With 603bhp in combination with a so-called AMG Dynamic Plus package, it offers exactly the same power as the previous-generation E63 4Matic+.



Merc AMG E53 Hybrid pan

The E53’s power comes courtesy of a new plug-in-hybrid drivetrain centred around the turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine used by the first-generation E53, launched back in 2016, which also finds work in the new GLE 53 4Matic (which won’t be sold in the UK).

With a larger turbocharger, dynamic engine mounts and greater cooling capacity among other detailed changes, the inline six-cylinder unit develops an added 13bhp and 30lb ft of torque, at 443bhp and 413lb ft respectively.

In a big change from its seven-year-old predecessor, the E53 Hybrid's combustion engine is paired with a synchronous electric motor developing up to 161bhp and 354lb ft, in what AMG refers to internally as a ‘P2’ hybrid system.

With the electric motor mounted within the forward section of the gearbox, the new set-up fundamentally differs from the 'P3' hybrid systems used by AMG's E-Performance-badged models (C63, S63, GT 63), which carry their electric motor within the rear axle instead.

Together, the dual power sources provide an overall system output of 577bhp and 553lb ft - considerable 148bhp and 170lb ft increases on the previous-generation E53.

The AMG Dynamic Plus package ramps up the performance further, bringing revised engine software and the extra 26bhp during short bursts of full throttle acceleration, for an overall 603bhp.

It’s all sent through a nine-speed AMG TCT Speedshift gearbox and a fully variable AMG 4Matic four-wheel drive system, with torque vectoring to vary the amount of drive sent to each individual rear wheel.

Altogether there are six driving modes for the car: Individual, Battery Hold, Electric, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. The optional Dynamic Plus package provides an additional Race Start mode. 

A 21.2kWh (usable) lithium ion battery mounted within the floor of the boot endows the E53 with an electric-only range of between 58 and 63 miles on the combined WLTP test cycle, allowing it to do extended distances without reliance on the petrol engine.

Charging can be achieved at up to 60kW on a DC system for a fast top-up of electricity or alternatively at a more leisurely 11kW on an AC system. 

Reflecting its performance-orientated standing, the E53 adopts a more aggressive appearance than other E-Class models. Included among its unique styling elements are larger cooling ducts within the lower section of a new-look front bumper, an AMG-specific front grille with standard illumination and front fenders widened by 11mm either side to accommodate the wider track.

Further back, the E53 receives model-specific sills with black highlights underneath the doors, a boot-deck spoiler and a new rear bumper that houses a diffuser and four round tailpipes.

It’s all topped off by standard 19in wheels. Both 20in and 21in wheels, including the cast-aluminium items worn by our test car, are available as options.


Merc AMG E53 Hybrid dash

Inside, buyers get to choose between a standard dashboard with separate instrument and infotainment displays or AMG’s Superscreen, with up to three displays, including one for the front seat passenger. 

There's also two different front seat types and either artificial leather or microfibre upholstery to choose from.

The interior is imbued with all the traditional AMG touches, including specific designs for the instruments and various infotainment menus.

The mounting of the battery at the rear robs a significant 170 litres of luggage space compared with non-PHEV E-Class models: there’s just 370 litres of space in the saloon and 460 litres underneath the cargo blind in the estate, limiting their practicality.


Merc AMG E53 Hybrid frontcorner

With sufficient energy stores on board, the E53 starts in Electric mode, providing quite lively and silent accelerative properties up to a limited top speed of 87mph. 

Typical AMG driving traits abound. There's a good deal of heft and welcome precision to the steering, along with an underlying firmness and a taut, close sense of control to the ride. The brakes, with 390mm composite front and 360mm steel rear discs in combination with four-pot front and single-pot rear callipers (painted in red with the Dynamic Plus package), suffer from an oddly spongy feel in the initial degrees of pedal travel, as kinetic energy is recuperated in four individual stages and stored in the battery at up to 120kW. The pedal eventually firms up and bites harder as it's pushed harder for increased stopping power, however.  

Switching out of Electric and into Sport or Sport Plus modes instantly heightens the E53's performance, as the six-cylinder engine springs to life. The combination of electric and petrol power is both seamless and potent, providing the car with spectacular pace, characterised by remarkably linear and highly flexible power delivery across the entire rev range.

The torque-converter automatic gearbox is quick and smooth. It’s programmed to upshift at the 6500rpm redline, even in Sport Plus mode. Added to all this is the outstanding traction and assured drive delivered by the quick acting four-wheel drive system.

The outright performance of the E53 is perfectly illustrated in AMG’s claimed 0-62mph time of just 3.8sec: an impressive 0.7sec inside the time of the old E53. This isn't quite as sharp as the 3.4sec of the final V8 petrol engine-powered E63, largely because the new car is burdened with a kerb weight of 2240kg, some 290kg more than its indirect successor, owing to its complex electrified drivetrain and larger dimensions.

Spirited acceleration is accompanied by a mechanically authentic soundtrack, with lots of pops and crackles of exhaust in more sporting driving modes. However, it never reaches the same kind of aural intensity as the deep baritone blare that characterised AMG’s V8-powered saloon for so long.


Merc AMG E53 Hybrid frontcorner

The E53 is a precise and assured car to drive within certain limits. It steers accurately and intuitively (a variable-ratio steering rack is partnered to standard rear-wheel steering with up to 2.5deg of movement) and can be placed confidently, while the torque-shuffling properties of the 4Matic four-wheel drive system ensure that there's always plenty of traction and drive on winding roads.

The AMG Ride Control double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, which features unique track widths both front and rear, as well as twin-valve adaptive damping control, also provides good lateral body control – up to a point. 

On a testing surface with plenty of vertical inputs as well as testing corners, body movement arrives fairly persistently, and it isn't as progressively controlled as in the old E63. There is a creditable amount of agility on smooth-surfaced roads, but the car’s substantial weight is a constant companion even here.

The inherent firmness of the ride is also a limiting factor on bumpy and broken surfaces, particularly in Sport Plus mode, which lacks the suppleness to fully absorb hard strikes.



Merc AMG E53 Hybrid reartrack

The E53 possesses formidable straight-line performance, thanks its combination of petrol and electric power, but although it delivers many traditional AMG driving qualities, it lacks the handling prowess and sheer involvement to be considered a proper replacement for the V8-engined E63. 

There are flashes of brilliance here, but in the end, the E53's dynamic appeal is limited by its substantial weight.

The car’s ability to run in pure-electric mode for meaningful distances does provide an added dimension in urban driving appeal, which is a true strong point. As is its overall economy, which contributes to outstandingly relaxed long distance cruising qualities.

Pricing is yet to be announced, but AMG has hinted that the saloon driven here will be positioned above £100,000 in the UK. For that kind of outlay, other super-saloons come with less consipuous dynamic compromises.