2019 Mercedes-AMG GT53 Review: A True Supersedan
An AMG GT plenty of your friends can enjoy, too.
There's no shortage of variety in the enthusiast-car world, with big power and sharp handling dynamics available in virtually every vehicle class, size and weight be damned. Still, there's something about coupes—especially two-seat, true sports-car coupes—that puts them at the top of our favorites list. But there's a real-life logistical and emotional penalty paid by drivers of two-seaters: You can't move a lot of family and friends in them, and those same family members and friends are intimately familiar with being left to ride to dinner in someone else's boring car while only a single lucky candidate claims shotgun in your 400-hp Me Mobile.
The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT53 offers a solution to the predicament, bundling top-flight performance with premium-grade luxury and seating for four. Our test vehicle arrived coated in Designo Selenite Grey Magno paint on the outside, available for $3,950. Mercedes' AMG Night Package takes the fastback's looks even further, adding a smattering of stealthy black accents to the exterior for $750.
It also featured wicked 21-inch AMG Forged Cross-Spoke wheels for $3,950. On the inside, its $2,500 AMG performance seats, with the additional $700 multicontour option, were wrapped in Red Pepper and Black Exclusive leather for another $4,450. Our loaner received further cosmetic enhancements with $350 illuminated door sills and a $1,600 Designo headliner.
Prior to gunning south from Los Angeles to San Diego for a weekend, my two travelling companions and I loaded up the GT53's generous trunk with luggage; each of us threw in a suitcase and a backpack, and there was enough spare room to accommodate a fourth similarly equipped passenger if we had needed to.
The AMG cocoons you in old-school style, with a quiet cabin and aromatic materials. We were coddled in comfort, surrounded by a sharp interior and supportive seating, and it didn't hurt that the car had the optional $450 heated and ventilated front seats.
The GT53 excelled on the road, providing a blast of a good time as it slithered down freeways, taking advantage of the bountiful muscle from the turbocharged inline-six, which serves up 429 horsepower and a linear 384 lb-ft of torque. The powertrain is assisted by an electric motor, dubbed "EQ Boost." For short spurts, the combined system produces 450 horses and a monstrous 568 lb-ft.
Mercedes-AMG says the car is good for a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds, and it feels easily capable of that. Power delivery is near instantaneous, and the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system routes torque to the road with precision. Launches from a standstill are issued with EV-levels of savagery, soundtracked by the engine's delicious straight-six tones.
Making the 3.0-liter engine sound all the better, the GT53 boasted the AMG Performance Exhaust System for $1,850. Activating it allows for a deeper burble at idle and a throatier note under load. Downshifts trigger excellent overrun noises and make you forget, if only for a moment, the existence of even stronger GT63 variants of the car.
You experience this performance from a user-friendly cockpit, as most of the vehicle's controls are accessed without ever requiring a hand to leave the AMG Performance steering wheel, optioned for $500. Wrapped in Nappa leather, it has a rotary dial with a tiny LCD display in the center to select drive modes. (Note: The "AMG Drive Unit" controllers on the steering wheel cost an extra $400.)
The GT53's comfort is also tied to its responsive suspension damping; this car came standard with "Ride Control" sport suspension which offered three settings: Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. When driving around La Jolla's beach town roads, Comfort ironed out the bumps with impressive composure in spite of the low-profile performance tires. Toggling over to the Sport setting seemed to be best for highway driving, tautening up suspension compliance without making the passengers uncomfortable.
The suspension is far from the GT53's only variable setting. Mercedes-AMG overhauled the center stack, which should look familiar to anyone who has spent time in the GT coupe, with buttons that are also screens. Controls for the drivetrain, exhaust, suspension, spoiler, and even the audio volume have small color displays that change according to the vehicle's settings. It makes the interior feel futuristic without being gimmicky, and it provides the driver with additional useful information at a glance.
The $2,250 Driver's Assistance Package is another add-on that makes a big difference. When traffic got extra dense and it felt like we were just slogging through Southern California's stop-and-go, adaptive cruise control allowed the car to effectively drive itself with very little driver input. The package combines almost every type of sensor and camera-based safety assist available on the market this side of Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's Super Cruise to provide smooth and natural acceleration and braking. The system issues lane-keeping and blind-spot warnings with polite urgency and doesn't interfere with the car's natural movement within the lane.
A $500 optional surround-view camera package bolsters the might of the GT53's technology suite, and makes it easy to park the vehicle without worry. Meanwhile, the infotainment display is one of the highest-resolution units you'll find in any car, granting the driver a complete view of your surroundings in crispy detail. Our test car also featured a head-up display for $990, which was highly legible as it communicated important information like speed and the posted speed limit.
All told, the total price came to $125,300, or a little more than 25 percent more than its $99,995 starting MSRP. If that made you breathe through your teeth, that's understandable. But the luxurious Sportback is a worthy alternative to the likes of the Porsche Panamera or BMW's 8 Series Gran Coupe, especially given the variety of possible specifications.
Indeed, the technology is integrated in such a way that driving the GT53 makes you feel as though you get the best of new-age and old-school luxury experiences. This four-door tourer isn't just a great drivers' car, but it's incredible as a daily commuter, too. Call it one of the world's most competent GT cars for people with friends.
2019 Mercedes-AMG GT53 Four-Door Specifications
|ENGINE||3.0L DOHC turbocharged 24-valve inline-6; 429 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 384 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,800 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||19/24 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||199.2 x 81.5 x 57.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.4 sec|
|TOP SPEED||177 mph|