Mercedes-AMG has taken the wraps off its next-generation high-performance E-Class – the E 53 4MATIC – introducing a new form of plug-in powertrain for the brand in the process. This technology joins some serious chassis and styling upgrades applied to both the saloon and Estate models. Prices are still to be confirmed, but the Mercedes-AMG E 53 is likely to start over £100,000 in the UK when it arrives later this year.

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First things first, the new E 53 matches the outgoing V8-powered E 63 S with a peak power figure of 603bhp. However, the manner in which the pair generate that grunt could not be more different. Replacing the previous twin-turbocharged V8 is a new 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, paired with a powerful electric motor mounted into the transmission housing.

On its own, the petrol engine is able to generate 442bhp and 560Nm of torque, joined by a peak of 160bhp and 450Nm of torque from that electric motor. However, there is a caveat to that combined 603bhp figure which is that it’s only available in ‘Race Start’ mode, which itself is specific to the optional AMG Dynamic Plus Pack. At all other times, AMG quotes a peak power output of 577bhp.

In contrast to the compact AMG-developed battery pack you’ll find mounted on the rear axle of a new-generation C 63 S E Performance, the E 53 instead features a more traditional battery pack borrowed from the standard plug-in hybrid E-Class, with a much more generous 25.4kWh usable capacity. 

This has its upsides – such as the impressive 60 mile all-electric range – but also its downsides. AMG has yet to confirm specific weight figures for the E 53, but we were told to expect a number in the region of 2,300kg – a 400kg increase over the previous generation E 63 S.

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Power is sent to AMG’s 9G TCT transmission. This is then connected to a rear-biased 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. AMG is quoting a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds – four-tenths slower than the old E 63 S, with the Estate adding a further tenth to that time. 

Due to the plug-in’s large battery pack, official fuel economy is rated at 348mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 18g/km. But as with all PHEVs the reality is likely to be based entirely on how often the batteries are charged; driven with the engine running in one of the high performance driving modes you’re unlikely to manage 10 per cent of that figure.

On top of the powertrain upgrades, AMG has also given the chassis some attention, starting with an 11mm wider front track hidden under some pumped-up wheelarches. This has allowed AMG’s engineers to totally change the front suspension geometry to suit the extra power and weight.

AMG has also moved away from an air suspension setup, instead swapping to a coil spring design with a set of new dual-valve dampers. These have apparently allowed the engineers to tailor the dampers both on compression and rebound depending on the specific suspension mode.

The brakes are also new; 360mm front discs as standard, or 390mm with six piston calipers with the AMG Dynamic Plus Pack fitted. These sit behind unique wheel designs available in 19, 20, and 21 inches, the largest being of forged construction to help reduce rotating mass. 

While this new E 53 doesn’t quite look as distinctive as the previous E 63 S, that wider front track and its vertical front grille strakes aim to give it an aggressive look. As well as the front bumper, AMG has also fiddled around with the side sills and rear bumper, and has fitted a small lip spoiler on the boot lid. This joins the four round exhaust pipes at the rear. 

Inside, AMG will offer the same two infotainment options as in standard E-Class models, including an optional Superscreen set-up that integrates a passenger display under one piece of glass. E 53-specific elements include an AMG steering wheel with the selectable driver-mode buttons, as well as optional AMG Performance bucket seats and a full carbon fibre trim package.

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Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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