Poetry in Motion

2004, Mercedes-Benz, E55 AMG

I always know when I have a winner in my driveway. All I have to do is look outside and there is my neighbor, Tim, looking over the car that has just arrived. Drink in hand, he has already popped the bonnet (because a car of this stature doesn't have a hood). By the time I get my shoes on and head outside Tim is closing the bonnet. "Nice, very nice" as he steps back to look at the lines.

The E55 AMG is one of those cars that steps on the line of too nice to drive in certain parts of town. Fortunately, most of the luxury lies on the inside of the car and the engine, so it doesn't stand out, like an Aston Martin. Don't get me wrong the car is sleek. But unless you know what AMG stands for, or hear the sound of the engine, it looks like a sleek Lexus or new Audi. But those three little letters and that sound in that engine make a big difference.

So what is this vehicle? E in Mercedes-Benz lingo is a mid-luxury sedan or wagon. This means that the E320 and E500 have the same stylish design and patented technology that the E55 has. The E320 means 3.2 liter, the E500 means 5.0 liter and the E55 means it is a 5.5-liter engine. The AMG means the car is a high performance modified version. The engines are hand-built scrupulously balanced and tuned to meet the demands that a 469 horsepower, 516 lb.ft of torque will make on it. AMG adds about 167 horsepower via the handbuilt, supercharged 5.5 liter V-8. Listening to the quiet assertiveness of the engine one knows that they are hearing sleekness with speed ~ poetry in motion.

According to Mercedes, the AMG folks did not simply add hardware to an existing engine. Virtually every part was modified to increase output and enhance durability. In order to support the supercharged engine the engineers fortified the cooling air intakes, fans and heat exchangers. What does this mean? 0-60 in 4.7 seconds.

The perks don't stop with the engine. Any electronic driver aid that is on the E-class sedan is on the E55 AMG, only supersized. The variable-boost power steering is a quicker 2.8 turns lock-to-lock, compared to 3.3 turns. The steering proved responsive and the suspension sturdy, it was almost like I was driving a cross between a BMW M5 and an Audi A8L in comfort mode.

Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) is adapted from the SL55 AMG roadster, a sort of brake-by-wire system. In front, eight-piston calipers grip rotors, while in the rear four pistons squeeze the rotors. All components are unique to AMG. The electronic control integrates many supplemental features, such as BrakeAssist and a more complete, easier-to-engineer interface with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

The Airmatic suspension provides the stability that drivers want without the harsh ride often associated with sport suspension. AMG tuned the Airmatic with four distinct stages to provide an appropriate setting for every situation. Dampers are electronically adjusted. A computer based on driving conditions can change suspension settings continuously, or any of the settings can be selected manually. Anti-roll bars are 50% stiffer than those of the E500.

We only had one problem with car. They wanted it back. Sorry Tim.

Audi RS6, BMW M5.

By Lou Ann Hammond

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Images of the 2004, Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

2004 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
2004 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG center console
Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG center console
Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG V-8 5.5-liter supercharged engine
Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG V-8 5.5-liter supercharged engine