2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Coupe Review - A $96K Bargain

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 Coupe Fast Facts

3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six (429 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm; 384 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,800 rpm)
Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
21 city / 28 highway / 23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
12.3 city, 8.5 highway, 10.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$74,950 (U.S) / $88,400 (Canada)
As Tested
$96,645 (U.S.) / $109,400 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and N/A for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2020 mercedes benz amg e53 coupe review a 96k bargain

For most folks, a $96K price tag is just too much. It is indeed a steep price to pay for any automobile. But spend enough time behind the wheel of the sublime Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 coupe, and that amount of cash outlay suddenly seems like a bargain.

A car this good typically fetches well over six figures.

Sure, the Merc isn’t the only excellent sports coupe that you can get for less than a hundred grand. The Corvette C8 and others also beckon. But should the Mercedes be your speed, you won’t regret signing on the dotted line.

At least not when you’re behind the wheel. Long-term reliability and repair costs aren’t generally in the purview of a review based off a week-long loan.

One of the occupational hazards of this job is that you get vehicles you don’t want to return. This was one of them.

It starts with the silky-smooth, three-liter turbocharged inline-six which makes 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes doesn’t list the curb weight, but whatever it, the engine has no problem motivating the car with alacrity. Merging warps time and space.

Ironically, I got a speeding ticket in this car when I wasn’t driving hard – just loafing but unaware of what the limit was. Still, I was going faster than I thought I was, because this coupe is also silky smooth in terms of ride.

Turn-in is sharp (and sharper in sport and sport + drive modes), and while the steering is electro-mechanical, it rarely feels artificial and generally feels connected to the wheels and road. It’s accurate, too, with little play or necessity for corrections.

This Merc is an all-around attack dog – handles well, blurs the scenery with ease, and doesn’t sacrifice ride. Nor does it sacrifice interior-material quality or scrimp on luxury features. Or exterior styling. Even its fuel-economy numbers are respectable. However, the rear seat is, shall we say, cramped? Yeah, let’s say that.

At least the cabin is pleasing to the eye. Design clearly took priority here, and the swooping divider between the upper and low dash, the one that houses the air-conditioning vents, looks great. So does the all-digital dash, though I shudder to think about repair costs.

Speaking of costs, here’s how it all breaks down. $74,950 gets you in the door, and that includes the turbo 6, nine-speed automatic trans, start/stop, adjustable drive modes, all-wheel drive, air suspension, and rear spoiler. That’s just the mechanicals and performance stuff.

Standard comfort and convenience features include dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, keyless entry and starting, Bluetooth, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, touchpad infotainment controller, satellite radio, Burmester premium audio, heated front seats, performance steering wheel, electronic trunk closer, panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, active brake assist, blind-spot assist, car to X communication, and LED lighting all around.

Options included the Lunar Blue Metallic paint ($720), black and white Nappa leather ($2,990), Nappa leather performance steering wheel ($500), 20-inch/five-spoke wheels ($750), high-performance exhaust ($1,250), track pace ($250), massaging front seats ($950), heated and cooled front seats, ($450), black Dinamica headliner ($1,600), upgraded Burmester audio ($4,550), Driver-Assistance package (full suite of driver’s aids, $2,250), Parking-Assistance package (active parking assist, 60-degree camera, $1,290), Exterior Lighting package (includes adaptive headlights, $800), Warmth and Comfort package (heated steering wheel, heated armrests, fast heating for front seats, $1,050), Energizing Comfort package (cabin air filtration, fragrance, $550), and AMG Night package (black styling elements for front splitter and rear diffuser insert, black chrome exhaust tailpipe inserts, $750).

With $995 for destination, that makes $96,645.

That’s a lot of dough, but one also gets a lot of car. I had honestly expected the price tag to be much higher until I consulted the Monroney label.

Yeah, the backseat is pretty useless for adults. There are long-term repair costs to think about when a car goes digital with its dashboard. And while the EPA fuel-economy numbers are respectable at first glance, you likely won’t see those returns if you drive this car the way it was meant to be driven.

Somehow, that all stops mattering when you’re at speed. Maybe this car is a $96K bargain, but it’s definitely a $96K worry eraser.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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2 of 13 comments
  • hrmmm that over the top ''space age look'' on the interior is a 1950's+modern scifi mish mash. Not a fan. Add to that the side profile shot made it look like someone did a BMW+MERC photo merge .. The whole thing is .. weird. Gotta me a new-boomer thing ..

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Jan 31, 2021

    The only time I ever put "96k" and "bargain" in the same sentence is when I'm considering something with a PIN number attached to it. This will get closer to "bargain" when it's selling for 46k in 2 years with 10,000 miles on it!

  • 3SpeedAutomatic I drove a rental Renegade a few years back. Felt the engine (TIgerShark) was ready was ready to pop out from under the hood. Very crude!! Sole purpose was CAFE offsets. Also drove a V6 Cherokee which was very nice and currently out of production. Should be able to scoop up one at a fair deal.🚗🚗🚗
  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...