The Mercedes E55 AMG was the Fastest Sedan of the time and had more power than a Ferrari 360 Modena.
In 2003, sedans were laid back, lousy offerings, that served the sole purpose of providing a daily commute from Point A to Point B. The concept of “performance” was more or less alien to this segment. The fast machines of the time were confined to the likes of prestigious Ferraris and outrageous Lamborghinis. But then Mercedes-Benz dropped the fastest bomb in 2003 that was the earliest most savage “mic drop” by an automaker. The German marque gave the E55 AMG to the world and it was the beginning of a lot of things! Mercedes-Benz flipped over the coin and started the horsepower war that still lives on today.
It was a time when AMG was mostly unknown to the outside world, and subtlety was in fashion. In fact, when the E55 AMG first came out in 2003, it was seen as just another German sedan by the common man, up until they had a taste of its insane performance. The Mercedes E55 AMG is what fueled BMW to bring out the V10-powered M5 and Audi with the even more mental Lamborghini V10-powered S6. But Merc gave us a wonder-sedan much before that, and it is a modern classic.
Mercedes E55 AMG Was The First Super-Sedan, And Could Even Do 180 Mph!
Back in the day, 400+ hp was confined to the likes of supercars. But Mercedes-Benz dropped a bomb with the E55 AMG in 2003 which was powered by a hand-built 5.4L Supercharged V8 that pumped out 469 hp and 516 lb-ft. These figures were Godly for the time and to give you a reference, the Ferrari Modena was rated at 400 hp and 275 lb-ft. This Merc was also not far off from the iconic and sharp-looking Lamborghini Murcielago that packed 572 hp.
The 2003 Mercedes E55 AMG had an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. But tuners could easily disable the restrictions and that alone could help this mad-sedan do 180 mph, with the right set of rubber. The dull 5-Speed Automatic gearbox was, however, laggy and rather clumsy. But the fact that it could handle 500+ lb-ft of torque was impressive enough.
0-60 Mph In 4.5 Seconds For A 4-Door Sedan That Had Paddle Shifters, Kind Of.
But the lousy gearbox didn’t stop this bad-boy from doing 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds which is now a breeze, but was supercar territory then! Mercedes had fused with 4-door comfort with blistering 2-door performance. Quite a feat and thankfully the start of the mental Super-sedan segment. The E55 also had a very early iteration of paddle-shifters that were basically clickable tabs behind the steering wheel.
AMG had also worked wonders on the driving dynamics of this Merc. It had standard adaptive air suspension that greatly helped in keeping this sleeper stable. It also offered 3 different drive modes – Comfort, Sport, and Manual. These modes not only tweaked the throttle response and gear-shifts but also adjusted the stiffness of its suspension system for a more sporty or comforting ride, as per the chosen mode. Manual mode allowed the usage of those early paddle-buttons.
A Sleeper By All Means. The Only Take-Away Were It’s Quad-Pipes
The Mercedes E55 AMG can aptly be called a sleeper as it was quite a simple ‘looking’ car. There were no crazy vents, sharp splitters or diffusers, or a huge rear wing to show its dominating performance. It was a humble car that didn’t boast about its, then super-car level performance. This attribute is actually one of the main reasons for the attention it currently receives.
The only trading cues that could allow a keen eye to tell about its AMG backing were the “V8 Kompressor” logo on the front fenders, differently designed alloy wheels, and the quad-exhaust layout. In fact, this was the first AMG-powered Merc to flaunt the quad-tip unit, which later on became a key cue to spot an AMG-treated Mercedes-Benz.
A Modern Classic That Made AMG Known To The World
The Mercedes E55 AMG was a show-stopper in a lot of ways, except looks. But that is what actually makes this a sleeper and one very important car in automotive history. This car started off the still-ongoing horsepower war among the Germans and we will forever be grateful for it!
The E55 has aged quite well and has a cult following for the simple yet aggressive character it possessed. It was also the car that made AMG known to the world, which up until then was a household name confined to Germany. The 2003 E55 AMG has a very special place among enthusiasts and was quite evidently the car that started the hunger for hp.