It may be a pricey, high-performance luxury sedan, but we christened it "Disco-Car."
The name was bestowed on our 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 test car by our 10-year-old granddaughter, who was mightily impressed by the smooth and rhythmic color-changing talent of E53's ambient interior lighting.
"It's like a disco-car," she declared. And the name stuck.
However, for those who don't remember -- or might want to forget -- the disco era's bell-bottom pants, monotonously pumping music, mullet hair-dos and mind-numbing strobe lights, E53's ambient cabin illumination, in addition to its color-changing ability, can also be made a solid color (no less than nine from which to choose), dimmed, or turned off all together.
But there's a lot more to this remarkable sedan than a light show (although, I will say, at night, when the car is started, the headlights also exhibit a brief, but striking, display of their own).
For 2021, the AMG E53 sedan, like all E-Class models, gets a revised front and rear look. There's also a new AMG steering wheel that jettisons the old (and tiny) square finger-pad infotainment controls for larger, easier-to-find recessed areas, and some techy infotainment upgrades.
That infotainment system is displayed on a wide, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and, just to the right of that, a big, 12.3-inch screen atop the center stack. Both are housed under a sweeping, single roof.
It's all configurable to the driver's taste, but there's a real learning curve involved, even with the improved steering-wheel thumb pads that operate many functions. Another control option is the finger-slide pad and buttons on the center floor console.
It all takes some getting-used-to.
What's instantly appreciated is the drivetrain, created and tuned by Mercedes' AMG performance division for a more visceral driving experience than a standard E-Class sedan.
Like its E53 coupe and convertible counterparts, the 2021 sedan is powered by a turbocharged straight six that gets mild-hybrid assist from a 48-volt electric motor and a 0.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Mercedes calls the system EQ Boost.
Sending muscle to all four wheels via E53's standard 4Matic all-wheel drive, the system's electric blower kicks in first, eliminating any hint of turbo lag, then the turbo takes over for seamless power delivery throughout the rev band.
The upshot: 429 hp and 384 lb.-ft. of torque through a standard nine-speed, paddle-shift automatic.
Add AMG's Dynamic Select system, with its Individual, Slippery, Comfort, Sport and Sport-Plus driving modes, and you've got a performance sedan that, at the driver's whim, can be an executive shuttle, a grand tourer, a family car, a sporting companion or a race-track hellion.
Fire this guy up, and its AMG Performance Exhaust (a $1,250 option our car had) burbles and rumbles at rest, roars and snarls under a heavy right foot.
Speaking of which, we greeted 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Even so, in just over 100 miles of mixed city/hwy motoring, we realized 25 mpg, just as the EPA expected.
Sharing its basic architecture with the regular E-Class sedan, this AMG iteration goes its own way in nearly every other aspect, with its power-centric drivetrain, unique styling cues, and its standard AMG-tuned 4Matic all-wheel drive.
Interior room is fine up front in hugely bolstered AMG sport buckets; rear head room is fine, rear leg room is dependent on the kindness of front passengers.
Bottom line: the AMG E53 is a remarkable combination of midsize-sedan convenience and hot-rod athleticism.
Of course, ya gotta pay to play. This guy starts at $74,950, which already is a lot of dough in my neighborhood. By the time our car was finished raiding the options list, it rang the register at $82,570.
Which left me no money to pay a stylist to get that mullet haircut.