The Mercedes-AMG E53 4Matic+ Cabriolet is unlike anything else in the Indian market right now. It has handsome proportions, the versatility of a convertible and loads of performance. While there are other convertible options at different price brackets, nothing comes with the promise of performance that this AMG can deliver. Over the course of a day, we put it to the test to see if it is indeed as desirable as it seems on paper.
The E53 Cabriolet doesn’t resort to excessive bling to stand out. It has a classic, timeless design that’s beautiful no matter how you look at it. The straight, non-fussy character lines, the muscular haunches, the 19-inch alloys and short overhangs with the time-tested cabriolet silhouette come together effortlessly in a truly fine looking car. The AMG Panamericana grille along with the LED headlamps and long bonnet give the E53 Cabriolet a purposeful stance. Other elements like the steeply raked windscreen, the quad exhaust tips and some elements of the rather minimal bodywork also help make the E53 Cabriolet’s sporty intentions clear.
While our white test car came in with a maroon soft-top, the roof can be specced in any of the five shades available. The roof takes 20 seconds and can be deployed on the go at speeds of up to 50kmph. To help protect your hairdo, the E53 Cabriolet has what’s called an Aircap, a spoiler at the top of the windscreen along with a panel behind the headrests. The Aircap helps move the airflow up and away from you and makes it easy to have a conversation with your co-passenger without the wind constantly blowing in your face. Understandably, with the roof mechanism, there isn’t a lot of space in the boot — 371 litres and very shallow at that, but you can drop down the rear seats to make a bit more room.
While this isn’t a 63 AMG, it doesn’t lack for power at all. Powered by an inline six-cylinder engine with an electric motor, its total power goes up to 435hp (plus an additional 22hp courtesy of the motor). The torque figure stands at 520Nm from the engine with the motor bringing an additional 250Nm. The motor also helps fill in for the time the turbocharger takes to spool up. In practice, this makes for a rewarding driving experience with very linear, yet punchy power delivery. The powertrain predominantly powers the rear wheels but the 4Matic+ system does employ the front wheels as well. On the whole though, the E53 Cabriolet feels like it has a rear-wheel bias, which can only be a good thing.
Though the E53 Cabriolet doesn’t have a lot of ground clearance, the stiff suspension setup and the ability to lift the car using the air suspension ensures that you never have to worry about it scraping its underbelly. In fact, the E53 seemed to be a lot more comfortable over bad roads and tall speedbreakers, than some of the sedans I have driven lately. Suspension, like I said, is stiff but it is never uncomfortable. Switching to comfort mode makes it perfectly manageable and you don’t end up having to slow down excessively for road imperfections.
The engine works like a charm and is probably the real highlight of the car. It delivers all the power you’d need without any jerkiness, adding immensely to the experience of driving a drop-top cruiser like this. The electric motor helps lower down in the rev range and then, the turbocharger takes over to give you a relentless wave of torque, powering through to a 0-100kmph time of 4.5 seconds. The engine loves to rev and pulls cleanly to 6,500rpm delivering solid performance all along. While it doesn’t have as much of a soundtrack at lower RPMs, it really opens up as you floor the throttle — pops, bangs et al.
The 9-speed gearbox is perfectly tuned for the car. In comfort mode, as you amble through the city, it shifts unobtrusively and as you try to go faster, it has a knack of always being in the right gear. Shifts, both while leaving the gearbox on its own and demanding them via the paddles, are quick and effortless.
The E53 Cabriolet is great around the bends as well. The steering communicates a lot of feedback and has a nice weight to it, in fact a bit too much at slow speeds. In Sport mode, the E53 feels tied down and is very enjoyable on a twisty mountain road. The air springs are stiffer, the throttle response is sharper and the gear shifts are snappier, everything coming together for a fun drive.
On the inside, the E53 continues being special. It is in equal parts luxurious and sporty. Most of Mercedes- Benz new-age tech is present. To start off with, it gets the new Mercedes-AMG steering wheel and the dual 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment and the instrument cluster. It does look similar to the E-Class, but gets additions like the red details and the AMG seats. The seats are heated and cooled and that should help to keep you comfortable when driving with the top down. There is ambient lighting to set the mood and a really good 590W Burmester sound system.
I drove, for the most part, with the roof up and I suspect that will be the case for most people. The searing sun (and the pollution) makes top-down motoring even more of a novelty in our part of the world. With the roof up, you are still well insulated and not a lot of noise creeps in. The rear seats are there and they do add a touch of versatility, but are a little hard to get in and out of especially with the roof up. Mind you, the space on offer is okay but using it on a consistent basis is a challenge.
The Mercedes-AMG E53 4Matic+ Cabriolet is a perfect all-rounder. It is a beautiful car, has a great drivetrain, is well appointed on the inside and is very well judged for our roads. But still, at Rs. 1.5 crore on-road, it is an expensive proposition. But if you do decide to shell out that kind of cash, it is a car that doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. It is a sheer joy to drive and the fact that it isn’t a full fat AMG lends it a certain charm and usability that an E63 just doesn’t have.