2018 Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet review - price, specs and release date
With 429bhp under its bonnet, the Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet is the quickest version of the firm’s four-seat drop-top...
Priced from £69,285 | On sale Now
It’s fair to say that we Brits are a vain bunch. Such is the popularity of big wheels, aggressive bodykits and firm suspension, even the slowest diesel version of the E-Class Cabriolet is available only in pumped-up AMG Line trim. But what if you actually want some muscle to back up your swagger? If that sounds like you, the new Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet – which replaces the E43 Cabriolet – might be the answer.
Sitting behind the three-pointed star up front is a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six petrol engine that makes a mighty 429bhp. But that’s not all; the E53 gets Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild hybrid system, which uses electrical assistance to add a further 22bhp and additional torque. This improves not only responsiveness and performance but also fuel economy.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet on the road
In practice, the engine has more than enough low-down shove for easy cruising, with it quietly scooting up to motorway speeds. Stretch it a bit further and it feels strong, but you’ll need it spinning beyond 6000rpm to get all of the horses, delivered with a smooth six-cylinder soundtrack that’s more subdued than that of AMG' shouty V8s.
All E53s come as standard with a nine-speed automatic gearbox that responds quickly when accelerating from a standstill or on the move. It shifts very smoothly in Comfort and Eco modes, with the sportier settings speeding up changes. The 'box also allows the E53 to coast with the engine off when you come off the accelerator, increasing fuel economy. It seems to work, too; we saw over 30mpg on the trip computer on a motorway run.
Four-wheel drive makes sure that traction is never an issue in the dry, helping the two-tonne E53 fire from 0-62mph in just 4.5sec. It helps in the bends, too; you won’t find the rear of the car slithering around as you do in its little brother, the C63. Instead, you feel just enough power going rearwards to help prevent the car running wide as you accelerate.
Air suspension means you can stiffen the car for better body control and less roll or slacken it off for more waft. Although it does get a little jittery over road imperfections, it is comfortable for the most part, with the expected firmer edge than regular E-Class Cabriolet.
Does this turn it into a sports car, though? In a word, no. The steering may be quick, but it gives you no sense of connection to the front wheels. And despite its performance and grip in the bends, the E53 never urges you to drive it quickly or feels particularly fun. At the end of the day, it’s a luxury cabriolet that just happens to be chuffing fast.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet interior
Sitting at the top of the E-Class Cabriolet range, the E53 gets a fair few sporty touches and extra toys over its non-AMG siblings. There’s an AMG-branded flat-bottomed steering wheel, nappa leather sports seats, plenty of red detailing – including stitching on the dashboard, piping on the floor mats and the seatbelts – and AMG kickplates when you open the doors.
As for tech, the most noticeable difference is the 12.3in instrument cluster that replaces regular dials. Sitting next to the equally large infotainment screen, they dominate the dashboard. Thankfully, their sharp graphics and ability to show vast amounts of information clearly makes them a welcome addition.
There's a rotary dial between the front seats to control the infotainment, although you can also use touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel. Both work well, although we find BMW’s iDrive system even easier to use.
Like any other E-Class Cabriolet, the E53 has a pair of rear seats that are actually usable. Sure, six-feet-tall friends won't be too happy back there, but kids and shorter adults will be able to manage more than just a short trip. If you want to know more, check out our main review.