Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine's online Web Bonus.

When it comes to excellence in ultra-high-performance personal luxury cars, the Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 coupe takes a back seat to no one -- including its back seat.


Boasting a techy new powerplant, the E53 coupe features a supercharged and turbocharged straight six that gets additional go-fast assist from a mild hybrid system. Photo provided by Mercedes-Benz

It's odd, we admit, to start a discussion of this super-sophisticated racer with a nod to its aft perch, but I have to say we were astonished by that space's civility.

Rarely a strong point in coupes, this Mercedes' two-place rear bench bucks the trend with surprisingly civilized accommodations. True story: during our week with the Benz, we played Horse Hookie at Fairmont Race Track on Tuesday, and the couple joining us went on and on during our drive to the East Side about how surprisingly comfortable the aft space was.

No kidding.

OK, now that that's out of the way. Let's talk about being in the front seat -- specifically, in the driver's seat.


Photo provided by Mercedes-Benz

For 2019, the new AMG E53 coupe, like its equally new E53 sedan and convertible counterparts, is powered by a turbocharged and electrically supercharged straight six that gets its mild-hybrid assist from an electric motor and 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 the standard nine-speed, paddle-shift, AMG-tuned automatic.

Add AMG's Dynamic Select system, with its Individual, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport-Plus driving modes, and you've got a gorgeous personal performance car that, at the driver's whim, can be an executive shuttle, a grand tourer, a sporting companion or a race-track hellion --  maybe all four on the same trip!

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.

We greeted 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Even so, in 135 miles of mixed city/hwy motoring, we realized an impressive 22 mpg in this showy hot rod.

Sharing its basic architecture with the E-Class sedan, which itself was all-new in 2017, this new-for-2019 performance coupe goes its own way in nearly every other aspect, sharing nary a body panel with the four-door while casting a shadow that's nearly 4 inches shorter than that of the sedan. The coupe is sleek, its profile elegant and its demeanor cool and sophisticated. Head-turning AMG-added goodies on E53 include high-performance tires and unique 20-inch, five-split-spoke wheels.

Inside, the infotainment system is displayed via a sweeping digital instrument cluster and, just to the right of that, a big screen atop the center stack. Both screens are housed under a sweeping single roof.


Photo provided by Mercedes-Benz

It's  all configurable to the driver's taste, but a real learning curve is involved with the tiny thumb-slide pads on the steering wheel that control many functions. Our car also had us jammin' with its optional $4,550 Burmester High End 3D Surround Sound audio.

Which brings us to price.

This coupe starts at $74,695, 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 $95,895. Yep, our tester, with its $21,200 in add-ons, had the equivalent of a Toyota Corolla in options.

Oh, well, ya gotta pay to play.

And, I'm here to tell you, for the well-heeled driving enthusiast, the AMG E53 coupe is a great party pal when you want to have some automotive thrills. But it's also an elegant personal car on opera night and -- certainly by coupe standards -- a surprisingly practical vehicle on days when acting like an adult is called for.

I hate those days.

This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact tgriffin@stltoday.com.