Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+ Saloon & Estate [W213] (2018 - 2023) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch


The Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+ Saloon and Estate models offer a rare kind of performance sporting confection if you're looking for a fast saloon or station wagon from the 2018-2023 period from the full-sized Executive segment. Not only can either body shape sprint to 62mph in 4.5s to the accompaniment of an emotive soundtrack, but the E 53 package also gives you a relatively efficient mild hybrid engine and there's all the usual E-Class quality and practicality. The result is a pretty special and rather different sporting executive drive experience, especially if you can stretch to the post-2020 facelift models. There's a sense of class, quality and style here that makes these E 53 variants almost unique at their price point.


4dr Saloon / 5dr Estate (3.0 petrol [E400/E 53 AMG])


The W213-series Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+ Saloon and Estate models were first launched in 2018, then lightly updated two years later. The E 53 wasn't the first relatively affordable Mercedes-AMG version of the W213 generation E-Class Saloon and Estate; these '53' variants directly replaced E 43 4MATIC versions of this design, which had a V6 engine and 367hp.

Here though, you sense that Mercedes' Afalterbach luxury division got itself a lot more serious about developing this car. The switch to 'E 53' status saw a change to inline six cylinder power and a power hike to 435hp at the same time as this E-Class variant future-proofed itself with a switch to mild hybrid technology. Add in the smarter exterior look and higher quality cabin that came with this model's mid-2020 upgrade and potentially, you've got quick a desirable performance package. The 'W213'-series E 53 saloon and estate sold until mid-2023, after which a new sixth generation version of this model was launched.

What You Get

In saloon and estate form, the E 53 is marked out from humbler E-Class models by a bonnet with two distinctive power domes, plus there are large outer air inlets with two cross louvres - and a smart front apron finished either in silver chrome or high gloss black. There's a proper AMG vertically-slatted grille too, flanked by headlamps featuring the brand's advanced MULTIBEAM Intelligent Light System.

In profile, the wings feature 'BITURBO 4MATIC+' badging and you get AMG side sill panels and rear privacy glass. The aerodynamically optimised wheels are bespoke too of course, with AMG lettering on the black calipers; you get tantalite grey 19-inch rims with a '5-twin-spoke' design on the standard 'Premium' model; or larger twin-spoke matt black 20-inchers on the plusher 'Night Edition Premium Plus' variant, which also gets a high gloss black finish for the mirrors and the waistline trim strip.

The key identifying feature at the tail end is the round twin tailpipe trim, offered either in high-gloss chrome - or black chrome in the case of the 'Night Edition Premium Plus' variant. The pipes sit within a diffuser-style AMG rear apron. Both variants get a body-coloured AMG spoiler, which is subtly roof-mounted with the estate body shape.

Inside, the E 53 gets a package of AMG-specific appointments, luxurious materials and the brand's MBUX infotainment system. The scene is set by branded sports seats in black Nappa leather, featuring either silver or red contrast stitching. And built upon by bespoke trimming (either black open-pore ash wood or carbon fibre), plus stainless steel pedals and AMG lettering for the floor mats and scuff plates. There's also a lovely multi-coloured ambient lighting system, with LED strips along the bottom of the fascia, on the door cards and along the side of the centre console that give the cabin a very special feel after dark.

We're not sure that the post-facelift model's redesigned race-style AMG Performance steering wheel was much of an improvement. It's, shall we say, rather complex, with no fewer than 22 individual touch-sensitive controllers and two sliders on its four spokes. You'll need to get the handbook out.

As with other E-Class models, the two displays for the instrument cluster and the central screen blend beneath a shared glass cover to form the so-called 'Widescreen Cockpit'. For the 12.3-inch instrument cluster, it's possible to choose between the three AMG display styles - "Modern Classic", "Sport" and "Supersport". The "Supersport" mode is particularly striking, with a central, round rev counter and additional information presented in the form of bars to the left and right of it.

The MBUX central infotainment screen, also 12.3-inches in size and presented in this model with a bespoke AMG start-up screen, includes everything you'd expect, including one of the segment's best voice control systems and a navigation system using the brand's clever 'augmented reality' system. This is effectively a live camera feed of the road ahead overlaid with house numbers, road names, direction arrows and other useful bits of information that'll help you find your way.

In the rear, passenger space is generous. If the front passengers have their seats at the lowest setting, you might find room for your feet slightly limited, but otherwise the rear foot wells are big and broad. The upholstery's supportively contoured too, holding you in a little more firmly than is usual, though that does mean a little less comfort for anyone who has to sit in the middle, legs splayed around the rather prominent central transmission tunnel.

The boot gets automatic operation for the boot lid or tailgate. The saloon offers a 540-litre trunk - with the estate, that figure rises to 640-litres, which is more than you'd get from any other full-executive segment station wagon. If you need to take longer items, the rear backrest on both saloon and estate models usefully divides 40:20:40 so you can, if necessary, push longer items like skis through without disturbing rear-seated folk. If you flatten the rear bench, using the cargo sidewall levers, then on the estate model, 1,820-litres of space can be freed up.

What You Pay

We'll base our prices here for the saloon version of this W213-series E-Class model. The estate values at around £500 more. Coupe and Cabriolet E 53 models were also offered, but we'll cover them in a separate Review. Prices for the E 53 in W213-series saloon form start at around £39,100 (£around £43,500 retail), which gets you an '18-plate saloon. If you can stretch to the facelifted '20-plate-onwards version, prices start at around £45,800 (around £52,250 retail) for a typical 'Premium' variant on a '20-plate, rising to around £53,100 (around £60,500 retail) for one of the last W213-series '22-plate 'Premium'-spec cars. All quoted values are sourced through industry experts cap hpi. Click here for a free valuation.

What to Look For

Check those huge, expensive-to-fix 19 or 20-inch AMG alloy wheels for scratches and nicks. We've also heard that the relay for the E 53's AIRMATIC air suspension system is prone to failure - that relay can get stuck in the off position, meaning that the compressor won't engage and the suspension won't drop the car towards the ground. And of course insist on a fully stamped-up service history. Otherwise, it's just the usual comments that apply to this W213 E-Class design. Most owners in our survey were satisfied, whatever kind of version of the W213 design they'd chosen, but inevitably, there were some who'd experienced problems. We came across a few owners who'd experienced failed NOx sensors - there are two that are a part of the selective catalytic reduction system. The cause is usually extreme exhaust heat and replacing the sensors isn't cheap. We also come across issues with brake judder and screeching, so look out for that on your test drive. And we've heard it reported that the body paint is rather thin and sensitive, so scratches and spots are common. Check the paintwork thoroughly.

Some owners have reported failing LED light bulbs that illuminate the floor under the side door mirrors. Otherwise, it's the usual things here; interior trim and electrical issues were the most commonly afflicted things that came up. Check for uneven panel gaps and paint flaws. Inspect the electrics and the air conditioning functionality - it should blow our really chilled air.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2020 E53 4MATIC+ Saloon - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £26. An oil filter is around £13. A fuel filter is around £36. Front brake pads sit in the £86-£136 bracket for a set. Front brake discs for an E-Class cost in the £112-£127 bracket, but for proper Brembo discs appropriate to an E 53, you'll need a lot more; a set of rear Brembo discs for an E 53, for instance, will cost around £324. A set of wiper blades is around £42. An air filter is in the £39-£55. A pollen filter is in the £11-£54 bracket. A rear LED lamp is in the £238-£281 bracket.

On the Road

Before this E 53 model's mild hybrid in line six cylinder powerplant arrived in 2018, there was quite a gulf between the two engines that the Mercedes-AMG sub-brand used for its larger cars. These being the V6 '43' unit and the 'blood and thunder' 4.0-litre V8 of the ballistic '63'-series cars. The idea with the E 53 was to fill that gap and, sure enough, thanks to the combination of supercharging and turbocharging, this E 53 model's in-line six cylinder 435hp unit delivers a lot of the performance that V8 unit might provide, together with a vastly more acceptable set of running costs thanks to the integrated mild hybrid tech. But you don't want to know about all that - not in this section anyway. You want to know how fast this E 53 goes and whether it's just a bit of a boat that goes very fast in a straight line but can't do a lot else. As has been the case with AMG-engined E-Class models of the past.

Well it isn't that. Come to this car and expect it to have the scalpel-sharp handling responses of a similarly priced but slightly smaller Mercedes C 63 and you'll be disappointed. But it's more everyday-usable than one of those thanks to an AMG DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes system and the inclusion of an AMG RIDE CONTROL version of the Mercedes AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension system. Plus there's 4MATIC+ AWD, a 9-speed AMG Speedshift TCT paddleshift auto gearbox and an AMG Performance exhaust for an authentic sports car soundtrack. It all makes this car certainly quite dynamic enough to take on a direct class rival like a BMW M550i xDrive. Rest to 62mph takes just 4.5s and the top speed has to be artificially restricted at 155mph. And, via a provided display screen AMG menu, the driver can call up various special displays such as engine data, a gear speed indicator, a G-Force Meter and a RACETIMER.


Do you really need a faster, more luxurious full-Executive sector performance saloon or estate than this if you're browsing amongst models made in the 2018-2023 era? Probably not. That won't prevent this E 53 4MATIC+ model from being a super-rare used car market choice though. But if you're fortunate enough to be considering one, that'll be all part of the appeal. It's very, very fast and this estate version is almost in a class of its own, vastly more powerful than a comparably-sized Audi S6 Avant or a BMW 540i Touring; and vastly bigger than a comparably-powerful Audi RS 4 Avant. There are even Coupe and Cabriolet versions if you want a more exclusive feel.

Thanks to 4MATIC AWD, AMG RIDE CONTROL and the AMG SPEEDSHIFT gearbox, this E 53 feels more dynamic than any AMG-fettled E-Class model before it, bar the wild V8 E 63. You could spend twice as much as Mercedes is asking here and not really very much better what this car can offer in terms of performance, dynamic ability, luxury and even exclusivity. If you don't feel the need to and find yourself in the market for a very quick, very plush luxury saloon or estate from this period, then this one might be hard to ignore.

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