Among the many internet automotive reveals, in the absence of the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, was the 2020 Mercedes-AMG E53. Any AMG model with a ‘5’ at the beginning of its numeric nomenclature is a sort of mild AMG model, similar to BMW’s M Performance models. So this new AMG E53 is Stuttgart’s competitor for the BMW M550i.
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Being that we haven’t driven the new Mercedes-AMG E53, we can’t comment on how they drive. However, we can compare both performance sedans’ looks, specs and price. So let’s dig in.
It’s shocking to me how well the G30 5 Series has aged. It’s a few years old now and it still looks as smart and handsome as it did when it was launched. In fact, I think it’s gotten better looking over the years. If there’s a complaint, it’s that it’s a just a bit too understated, a bit too mild. However, it still looks great, especially the BMW M550i, which has just enough sportiness.
That sound, the newly refreshed E-Class Mercedes is also great looking and I think, in E53-spec, is just a touch better looking. Mostly because its AMG-ness stands out a bit more than the M550i’s M-ness. It’s the sportier looking car, so it’s the one I personally prefer. But I wouldn’t blame anyone for choosing the Bimmer. They both look great.
On the inside, it’s a bit trickier. There are aspects of each that I really like and aspects of each that I don’t. For instance, I love the dash layout and design of the Mercedes-AMG E53 but all of its carbon fiber looks cheap and tacky. Maybe I’m just becoming an old man but a car as classy as the E53 should only have three main materials; leather, metal and wood. Carbon fiber trim is essentially just fancy plastic. While the BMW M550i, in this case, has a much classier looking cabin in my opinion but there are some things I don’t like, such as its funky shift lever. Also, while the Bimmer’s steering wheel is nice, it’s getting a bit too ubiquitous and boring, while the AMG’s three double-spoke steering wheel looks awesome.
Again, we haven’t driven the new AMG, so we can’t say if one car is better than the other to drive, but we can comment on equipment and price.
Under the hood of the new Mercedes-AMG E53 is a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six engine with an electric battery-alternator starter. The engine itself makes 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. While the electric motor, dubbed EQ Boost, creates an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of temporary torque. More importantly, that electric motor helps to create low-rpm punch, without the need of turbo boost. That engine is paired with Mercedes’ own nine-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. According to Mercedes, 0-60 mph takes 4.4 seconds.
While the BMW M550i xDrive uses a 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 with a whopping 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same engine that powers the BMW M850i and it’s an absolute monster. That engine is paired with an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox and sends power to all four wheels. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds.
You might be thinking that this comparison is a bit unfair, as the Bimmer uses a much bigger engine, is far more powerful an significantly faster. However, they have a very similar starting price. While Mercedes hasn’t released pricing on the new AMG E53, it should be a touch more expensive than the pre-facelift’s $73,800 starting price. While the BMW M550i $76,650. So for only a few thousand dollars more, the BMW offers similar luxury and V8 power.
Admittedly, Mercedes-AMG needs to be commended for using a straight-six in an era when that engine configuration isn’t popular. Still, choosing a less powerful I6 in lieu of a more powerful twin-turbo V8 in a performance sedan seems silly. The Mercedes-AMG E53 seems like a very compelling package, one that’s great looking, has a fantastic interior (so long as you choose metal or wood trim) and a high-tech inline-six, the BMW M550i xDrive might be the better deal.