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The AMG GT 53 proves you can’t be everything to everyone

This AMG GT 53 reminds me of George Russell. He’s the number two driver for Mercedes’ F1 team, and he’s remarkably consistent. Good for P3, P4, or P5 every race, he’s even outperforming Lewis Hamilton this season so far. Poor George was so happy to get even a single point while racing for Williams, but he expects more out of a Mercedes F1 car. It’s perspective. And driving the AMG GT 53 is all about your perspective too.

AMG GT53
Get one:

The perfect grand tourer. A cabin nicer than a five-star hotel. Performance without the need to visit the gas station daily.

Don’t get one:

Missing the roar (and power) of the V-8. Confusing digital dash. Always feels like it’s asking “You’re having fun now, yes?”

Soul Score: 7

A car that does everything well, but won’t call your name from the garage.

The 2022 Mercedes AMG GT 53 Coupe overview

AMG GT53
Matte finish paint looks particularly fetching on the curvy GT.

This is the very definition of a really nice car. It’s fast, composed, comfortable, efficient and well-built. I can’t imagine what else you might need while driving.

It’s also the car that catches your eye in the showroom. You say to yourself “I’ll just sit in it”, because hey, you have a monthly budget and you’re not a sucker. How much better could it be than a C Class? Before you know it, you’re on a test drive asking yourself “How can I NOT need a car that has infinitely adjustable interior lighting?!” Everything about the car is so cool that you can’t help but fall in love. Other cars seem pedestrian.

But the problem is the newness wears off. It happens to everyone. What’s left is the substance of the AMG GT 53. Is there anything underneath all those toys?

AMG GT53
The car has a commanding road presence from the outside.

Performance Score: 7. Excitement as a side dish.

Here’s where that perspective comes in. 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque sounds like a lot, and it is. But we must consider two numbers before we go any further: 124,220, and 63.

That first number if you haven’t guessed, is the price. And while you do get a lot of tech here, one thing you don’t get enough of is power. Peak over at an M8, or even an M850, both of which have 8 tubes with explosions, to see what’s missing at this price point. Which leads me to 63.

It happens to be George Russell’s racing number, which is ironic because that’s what this car needs; a badge denoting 63, as in V-8 power. For 2022, Mercedes says that supply chain issues means only a turbocharged inline-six is available with either 362 horsepower, or the 429 you see here. Will the V-8 be back for 2023? Unknown, but it might be worth the wait if it does come back.

You might be asking “How much power do you need?” And to that my answer is probably less than 429, but I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Engine

AMG GT53
A turbo inline-6 is what’s underneath, and it’s an excellent engine.

Least you think this car is sluggish, it is not. The engine computer simply holds back the power and responsiveness of the throttle unless you turn that dial on the steering wheel to Sport +. Only then does the car truly feel like an AMG should, with a satisfying little BRAP on the upshift. EQ Boost and an auxiliary compressor are here to help smooth out any holes in the power band and prevent turbo lag.

AMG’s version of EQ Boost actually performs a neat little trick by fitting the car with an electrically-driven compressor. This can provide up to 8 pounds of boost directly to the engine, or to help spool up the mechanical turbo much faster. It’s seamless in operation.

Speaking of seamless, this is the first car I’ve driven where I never felt the urge to turn off the auto stop/start on the engine. It just works unobtrusively without the shake and rattle that normally occurs in other cars. The A/C fan continues to pump out air at the same rate, and no lights dim. Bravo, Mercedes.

You will get out of the GT impressed, but with your breath still firmly in place.

AMG GT 53
A spoiler will deploy at highway speeds. Or, control it manually from inside to look cool.

Transmission

While BMW might have a comfort and sport mode, it isn’t quite as linear as the one in this Benz. In Comfort mode, the nine-speed automatic propels you along quite nicely. You might even forget it’s there, which is the point in a car like this. But beware. Stomping on the gas won’t usually call for the transmission to downshift, and imagine my surprise when pressing the gas pedal past the kick down switch did nothing.

Once you choose Sport or Sport +, the transmission is much more eager to downshift. It’s an excellent aid to this engine, with shifts happening so fast and smoothly that you might think it’s a CVT.

AMG GT53
You will miss the V-8.

Chassis

Again we have the tale of two modes. The AMG GT 53 might as well be an S Class in Comfort mode, it’s ride so smooth and refined. Turn to Sport or Sport +, and the GT firms up to reduce body roll significantly, though the ride can still feel floaty at times. All-wheel drive helps to put the power down out of corners, so much so that the rear end never really wants to step out. And while some auto makers commit the mistake of thinking that steering heft equals feel, the rack in this Merc proves otherwise. I don’t think Mercedes could have done a better job setting up the chassis – the car lends itself to the GT name perfectly.

Brakes

I can’t remember seeing this before, but the AMG GT 53 has the same diameter brake discs at both the front and rear, 14 inches (the rears are a half-inch thinner). This helps to haul down 4,500 lbs in a sporty manner. The brake pedal can feel a bit spongy, but nothing to hold you back from engaging in a spirited drive.

AMG would like you to believe that this “Coupe” is simply a four-door version of the actual GT Coupe. That’s not exactly true from behind the wheel, as the GT provides a more exhilarating drive. But the GT 53 certainly isn’t boring, and nothing made today is better at gobbling up interstate miles at such a rapid pace.

AMG GT53
The GT has a well-balanced chassis and brake setup.

Utility Score: 9. Room for 4 and more.

Getting in a BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe can cause you to knock your head on the headliner if you’re a tall guy like myself, and you’re always aware of it brushing against your noggin while driving. Despite its beautiful swoopy styling, the GT never gave me such an issue. I fit really nicely inside the comfortable cabin.

You can choose to have a bench seat in the back (still featuring nice side bolsters), or two captains chairs, similar to a BMW M5 CS. Child seats fit with ease, and plenty of storage exists throughout the cabin.

Pop the hatch, and you’ll find a good amount of room in the trunk. My camera gear fit without issue, and loading up is easy thanks to a wider opening. You can’t always fit beauty with functionality, but Mercedes does a great job here.

AMG GT53
The hatch makes things easy to reach in the trunk.
AMG GT53
Choose a bench as you see here, or delete the fifth seat and opt for scalloped chairs in the back.
AMG GT 53
Like a true two-door coupe, the windows are frameless.

Efficiency Score: 8. Power without penalty.

One area where you won’t miss the V-8 is at the gas pump. With the EQ system and smart transmission in place, I averaged 23 mpg. This from a car with over 400 horses and two tons of curb weight. The GT 53 is a good example of how well a hybrid powertrain, even mild, can work without sacrificing performance.

Features and Comfort: 10. All the king’s horses.

AMG GT53
This is such a nice place to be.

If the driving experience doesn’t quite add up to the $124,220 sticker, the experience inside the cabin truly does. Everything you touch has a sense of weight to it, and sitting in a sea of butter-soft leather makes every drive an opulent occurrence. The wood trim is so far beyond what other makers put in their cars, it embarrasses the competition. Details like the AMG-embossed shifter and headrests, yellow contrast stitching and perforated leather steering wheel make you feel special without shouting in your face. M cars always go full tilt with M stripes and badges, as if to ask you “BRO are you ready to DRIVE?!” in a Macho Man voice every time you get in. AMG’s approach is much more subtle.

AMG GT53
The leather is beautiful, soft, and aromatic.

Tech talk

All the typical safety items are here, but let’s talk about the fun stuff. Turn the digital dial on the steering wheel for Comfort, Sport, or Sport + modes. On the other side of the wheel are buttons that allow you to adjust the exhaust and suspension separately if you don’t want the full Sport experience. There’s even a button on the central spine of the dash to adjust the spoiler, like a 911. But for the most part, turn the dial to the setting you want, and the AMG GT 53 is smart enough to figure out what you want on its own.

Perhaps the only issue here is Mercedes MBUX system, which I’ve noted before is a bit clunky. It’s no where near as nice inside, but the Blackwing had separate buttons for many similar features, and they were much easier to access.

And while you might not think you’re George Russell behind the wheel, Mercedes wants you to believe it. A digital dash with multiple displays and functions certainly look fancy, but none feel particularly useful. I’ve said it before, but unless it’s a manual transmission, you probably don’t need to leave the tachometer up anymore, unless you’re looking to use the paddle shifters. Paddle shift mode – you’re welcome Mercedes.

AMG GT53
I never really used the touch pad, instead opting for the touch screen.
AMG GT53
I found the classic sport display to be the easiest to view at a glance.
AMG GT 53
The MBUX system is a bit confusing to use.

Lux love

There is so much in here to enjoy that might not make the car feel connected, but does enhance the drive.

The Burmester stereo is decadent, providing rich sound (there’s even a speaker in the trunk). Sound deadening glass is thicker than normal, providing a ride that’s serene and quiet, perhaps too much so if you want engine noise. A double pane sunroof opens to reveal the sky for both front and rear passengers. Massaging seats help to keep the blood flowing on longer drives.

But perhaps my favorite seat feature are Dynamic seat bolsters. Turn the car, and the corresponding side bolster stiffens up to hug you more, helping to keep you in place during spirited driving. This might not sound like a big deal, but the AMG GT has some serious cornering ability, and it helps to avoid bracing yourself against the door. There’s no lag in the system either; it responds instantly to your steering input.

At night, you get a special light show. While the effect is similar to the GLE 53 I recently tested, it’s put to greater effect here. Everything from the air vents to foot wells are lit in a variety of color combinations. It’s stunning to behold.

AMG GT53
This stereo is beyond reproach.
AMG GT53
Two dials on the steering wheel help adjust the chassis and powertrain on the fly.
AMG GT 53
The cabin is beautifully lit at night.

The Mercedes AMG GT 53 Coupe puts the grand in grand touring.

AMG GT53

This is a crowded space with many players. Where the GT succeeds is in its overall ability to cover miles both quickly and comfortably. It’s a true grand touring car, probably more so than any two-door coupe because to me, touring means room for more than two.

Mr. Russell understands that his Mercedes F1 car is just a few tweaks away from perfection. So it is with the car’s road-going brethren. Love it for the ride, the opulence, and the performance. But just don’t expect it to call your name from the garage.

Specifications

AMG GT53
2022 Mercedes AMG GT 53 Coupe

Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel drive sedan

PRICE

Base: $102,600;
Price as tested: $124,220

POWERTRAIN

3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, electric assist
429 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm, 384 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm
Nine-speed automatic transmission

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 116.2 in
Length: 199.2 in
Width: 76.9 in
Height: 57.3 in
Curb Weight: 4,594 lbs

EPA FUEL ECONOMY

Combined/city/highway: 21/19/25 MPG

All press cars prepped with AMMO NYC products.

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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Email me at mike@machineswithsouls.com with any questions. Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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