Mercedes-AMG E53 returns as hot 603bhp PHEV

Mercedes AMG E53 front lead
Mercedes AMG E53 front lead

The hot four-wheel-drive E-Class keeps its 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six

The Mercedes-AMG E 53 has been revived as a hot plug-in hybrid with an aggressive new look, a wide-reaching chassis makeover and as much power as the old V8-powered E 63.

The hot four-wheel-drive E-Class, introduced in 2016 to sit below the range-topping E 63 super-saloon, keeps its 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six but receives a chunky power boost from a new EV motor, giving it up to 603bhp to make it as quick off the mark as the Audi RS3.

On its own, the engine produces 442bhp - tweaked to give 19bhp more than before - with up to 161bhp coming from the electric motor, which is integrated into the nine-speed torque converter gearbox.


That gives combined output, in normal running, of 577bhp and 553lb ft, making it more powerful than its predecessor by 154bhp and 170lb ft, and giving a 0-62mph time of 4.0secs for the saloon and 4.1secs for the estate.

But the optional ‘AMG Dynamic Plus package’ liberates the full whack of 603bhp when the driver engages 'race start', which optimises off-the-line performance and trims the 0-62mph time to 3.8/3.9secs. It also removes the 155mph speed limiter and lets the E 53 continue on to its natural 174mph maximum.

The PHEV is equipped with a 21.2kWh battery (usable) which claims an electric-only range of up to 62 miles and can be topped up from an 11kW domestic charger in around six hours. A 60kW fast charger comes as an optional extra to get it from 10-80% in 20 minutes.

The battery can be topped up at rates of up to 120kW by the car's regenerative braking system - 32kW more than the new Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. Recuperation levels can be changed via paddles behind the steering wheel when in hybrid mode.

Electric-only driving is possible at speeds below 87mph, and there is a battery hold mode – one of seven different drive settings – which can be used to ensure there is enough juice for engine-off driving through upcoming low-emission zones, for example.

The E-Class’s chassis has been given the full AMG treatment, too, bringing additional bracing on the front and rear axle for extra stiffness, a front track width increased by 11mm, and new twin-chamber suspension dampers which tout "clearly noticeable" changes in their various settings: Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus.

The braking system has also been optimised to work with the hybrid powertrain’s energy recuperation.

Styling changes over the standard E-Class include an illuminated AMG-specific grille, flared front wheel arches to accommodate the wider track, larger air intakes, a prominent rear diffuser, ducktail spoiler and circular quad exhausts.

To signal its extra grunt, the AMG Dynamic Plus package adds various performance-flavoured cues including red callipers for its beefier brakes and a microfibre-wrapped steering wheel.

Inside, the E 53 gets body-hugging performance seats trimmed in synthetic leather as standard, as well as bespoke wood trim and an AMG steering wheel, with a 12.3in driver's display and 14.4in infotainment screen.

Mercedes' full-width Superscreen is available as an option, giving the front passenger their own infotainment interface with access to games, streaming services and various in-cas settings.

The new E 53 is due to land in the UK in the coming months, and while Mercedes has yet to confirm precise pricing, it’s set to command a sizeable premium over the standard E 300e plug-in hybrid, which starts at £70,900.