Eric's Autos: 2020 Mercedes AMG E53
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.