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Eric's Autos: 2020 Mercedes AMG E53

Eric Peters on

Many people think the defining element of a high-end car is a powerful V-8 engine -- or, even better, a V-12 engine.

But some of the most iconic high-end cars -- models like the Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing of the '50s, for instance -- were powered by in-line sixes. They had two fewer cylinders but were smoother than a Bill Clinton interview -- and much classier.

Unfortunately, a 300 SL is a million-dollar car today.

Luckily, there's a new Mercedes that costs a fraction as much -- equipped with the same kind of engine.

Plus several fewer things.

What It Is

 

The E53 is the high-performance version of Mercedes' midsize E-Class sedan/coupe/convertible.

Whether you go with the four-door or the two-door (or without a roof), you'll get a specially tuned 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine unique to the AMG models that produces 429 horsepower, enhanced by an electrically driven "kompressor" (a turbocharger) to enhance low-speed performance and a 48-volt high-torque starter/generator that powers all the formerly belt-driven accessories, such as the air conditioning compressor and water pump.

This eliminates parasitic drag on the engine -- as well as the need to ever replace a drive belt.

All E53s come standard with a high-performance version of Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive, too.

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