The Mercedes-AMG E 53 4Matic+ Cabriolet might have a long name but what it brings with itself, above everything else, is a way of life. One, that will take you back to your childhood wish of driving a car with the roof down. It was the same for me, at least, as I got my hands on the keys of the E 53 Cabriolet. The first thing that caught my attention when I saw the car in flesh was the contrast roof, finished in Dark Red on our test unit. That, coupled with the lovely white exterior paint and the dashing black and red interior made not just me, but everyone around me, take notice of the car. It was like being a kid again, imagining what it must be like to drive a car like this. Except, Mercedes-Benz was kind enough to hand us the keys to the car too. So without wasting much time, let’s get straight to the bit that is perhaps the most appealing feature of the car, as I did.
Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet Review: The Drop-Top Experience
Now usually, I like to spend some time outside the car, take a couple of walks around it and soak it all in. In the case of the E 53 AMG Cabriolet, though, it was sitting in and driving right away. The absolute first thought that comes to mind – rather obviously – is to open the roof but that is also when the realisation sets in that our roads are very dusty. And you will find this to be true usually wherever you end up parking your car as that would probably be a domestic society, a general public parking lot or an industrial area, all of which generally have narrow and dust-filled entrances and exits, especially in a place like Delhi where we drove the car.
However, this problem is usually a short-lived one and sorts itself out after a few kilometres as the roads open up. You will find yourself planning routes where the bottlenecks are few and will often end up choosing roads that go along highways. But eventually, once you find yourself an open road, all you have to do is to reach out at a lever placed in the centre console and give the car about 20 seconds to open the roof and fold it away in the storage space placed behind the rear seats. And the most convenient bit about this procedure is that you can do it at speeds of up to 50 km/h which is pretty much mostly at par with the traffic movement. This means you don’t have to awkwardly slow down to really slow speeds and wait for the roof mechanism to complete its process but instead, can simply switch over to the slow lane and operate the roof closing or opening procedure.
Once the roof is down, that is when the magic happens. The first thing that will greet you is the wind-in-your-hair experience and this itself is something that is unique and exciting enough to bring a smile on the face of all the passengers in the car. What comes after is the wonderful exhaust note that adds to the drama that imprints itself as a pleasant memory in all those who are seated inside. If you switch over to the Sport+ driving mode, you will have pops and bangs added to the exhaust grumble. This will sound so good that it will make you want to stay a gear, or two, lower just to be in the upper half of the RPM band where the car sounds best. And this brings me to the sensation of speed that the car provides with the roof down. You see, no form of modern trickery used by automakers these days, aimed at making the car sporty - like pushing out fake exhaust sounds inside the cabin through the car’s speakers - will work as good as simply folding the roof away and letting all the elements make their way into the cabin. With the wind and the sound giving company, it is the sensation of speed that goes, well, through the roof. Consecutively, you and your passengers will always remember the car going faster than what it really did.
Once you are done and want the roof back up, 20 seconds later you have a car that has transformed back into a high-quality luxury sedan that Mercedes-Benz is known for making. The only difference being that the ambient sounds are not filtered out as well as the non-convertible luxury sedans, a trade-off you cannot avoid in convertibles, anyway.
Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet Review: The AMG Performance
Since it has AMG in its name, you can be sure that the car is high on performance. To look the part, it gets the signature AMG ‘Panamericana grille’ with bold front bumpers and looks almost identical to the regular Mercedes-AMG E 53 sedan. On the sides, it gets a minimalist design and gets 19-inch alloy wheels as standard. What you see on our test unit, though, is the 20-inch wheel that can be had as an accessory. What also works is the brushed-aluminium finish around the base of the roof which adds a premium appeal to the overall design. At the back, you get sleek LED tail lamps and a dual-tone rear bumper that houses the diffuser-like element highlighted by the chrome strip at the bottom and quad-tip exhausts. With the roof up, it has a sporty two-door silhouette and with the roof folded down, the car actually appears to be longer than what it is.
Whether the roof is up or not, what you always have at the ready is performance. It packs the turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder M256 engine that is good for making it go from 0-100 km/h in a matter of just 4.5 seconds and will take it all the way to an electronically limited top-speed of 250 km/h. What’s smart is that the engine is coupled with an e-motor that gives it a 22bhp boost under hard acceleration and once the revs climb, the turbocharger takes over. Overall, this results in a bucket load of torque being available throughout the rev band. The 9-speed automatic transmission is fairly quick too. Being a 9-speed unit, the car has been tuned to sit in higher gears in order to be more fuel efficient so if you are, say, in Comfort mode and you floor it, you will not make the most of what the car can offer. Hence, it is better to choose your driving modes in advance and since that can be done through a rotary dial mounted on the steering wheel, the task can be done with instantly. And since it comes with the 4Matic+ variable all-wheel drive system, the car always has grip on offer.
Mercedes has also gone ahead and thrown in an air-suspension and adjustable damping that can be altered to suit the driving condition with the change in driving mode. What’s good is that you also get an ‘Individual’ driving mode that lets you tune things like the steering, throttle, suspension and transmission sensitivity to various levels, giving you a the ability to choose a combination that best suits your driving style. What’s also impressive is that despite wearing the larger 20-inch accessory wheels, the car glided through bad patches and undulations on road. However, you have to be a bit careful over large speed breakers to avoid touching the underbelly of the car to the tarmac. It is here that you notice the absence of a nose-lift system which would be extremely helpful if you live in societes with steep ramps leading to parking lots, or while going over large speed breakers. Do note, though, that during our testing the car did not scrape its underbody even once.
Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet Review: Sealing The Deal
The E 53 Cabriolet brings together sporty performance with drop-top coolness. But don’t forget, it is still a Mercedes and that means, you are assured with high levels of quality. It is also feature-loaded with amenities like heated and ventilated seats with memory function, 64-colour ambient lighting, seven airbags and a 590W Burmester audio system. It even has a party trick up its sleeve as it extends the seat belt holder for front passengers the moment you sit inside and then retracts it back once you belt up properly.
And above all, it can seat four people too, albeit the rear seat comfort is not the best. Do note that the boot space is rather small too. But you end up putting all of that aside because this car is a lifestyle, a statement. You would have noticed that we did not get too technical in our review either because does it matter if this car offers something that may be a few percentages better or worse than others? I don’t think so.
Because when you ferry around three of your loved ones and have them experience all of what we have written above, the specifications do not matter, not as much as they would in the regular E 53 sedan. And combine all of this with the fact that the E 53 AMG Cabriolet literally does not have any direct competitor in the market, you get some serious bragging rights too. And remember, all it takes is a little less than 20 seconds for the car to transform from a luxury sedan to a fashion icon, and then 20 seconds to go back – giving you two very different experiences, all while being an AMG that gives it the performance to match its looks. This combination of being a 3-in-1 car, then, makes it an absolute winner in our books, even if it costs about crore and a half to bring one home.
- Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet
Engine: 2,999cc / In-Line 6-Cylinder / Turbocharged
Transmission: 9-Speed AT / All-Wheel Drive
Power: 429bhp @ 6,100rpm
Torque: 520Nm @ 1,800-5,800rpm
Price: ₹1.30 Crore (Ex-Showroom)
X-Factor: Gets the impressive combination of luxury, AMG performance, and drop-top motoring.