Skip advert
Advertisement

£10K V8 saloons - Mercedes E55 AMG

This big old girl is still properly quick

‘The Mercedes DNA runs right through it,’ says editorial director Harry Metcalfe after a short drive in the E55 AMG. ‘It feels like you could just jump in, drive to the other side of Europe in one go and feel as relaxed as when you started out.’ Sounds like the big Merc has found an instant ally, and I’m not surprised – back in its day it was the quintessence of high-powered executive motoring, with a fine chassis and all the hardware to fully exploit it.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Packed under the bonnet is an aggressive-sounding hand-built 5.4-litre supercharged V8 that laid 354bhp onto the tarmac via a fast-acting five-speed auto gearbox. In a world of RS6s that output may not sound like a lot, but back in 1998 it was extraordinary and even today you shouldn’t be fooled – this big old girl is still properly quick. Despite its size and spec, at 1642kg it doesn’t weigh as much as the other cars here and it uses that missing mass to devastating effect – plant your foot and the wagging finger of the ASR system cuts in even if you’re going straight and it’s dry.

Funny thing is, though, it doesn’t feel like an AMG. We’ve grown used to Mercs wearing those letters being more edgy than this. Compared with the raw, hard-hitting, current AMG models, it’s more relaxed, using the huge swell of torque to whisk you across continents. It’s also rather more affordable than the new ones – a just-run-in 100,000-miler in good order can be yours for £8K or less, and there are plenty to choose from.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The interior looks and feels as though it was designed to last forever – the switchgear, dash and plastics have a solid feel and should never squeak or rattle. The seats may be a touch firm and the leather is hard and often shiny, leaving you sliding around, which is a shame because the E55 can corner in a way that defies both its age and size. The Merc is an easy car to like and one that you could live with for many years. It’s also the type of car that will always give you the warm glow that comes from finding something so accomplished at such a low price.

Checkpoints• The E55’s Achilles heel is its susceptibility to rust. Doors and roofs are the most common and easiest places to find it, but check wheelarches and sills too.

• The engine is robust but it needs to have been fully maintained. Blocked water-pipes can cause overheating; if the service records show these have been replaced speak to the garage that carried out the work to see if the engine had been running hot.

• Steering pumps have usually cried enough by the time the mileage reaches six figures.

• Suspension components last longer than those of the other two cars here (probably because it’s lighter), so you may find the dampers will reach 100,000 miles.

Specifications

EngineV8, 5439cc, supercharged
Max power354bhp @ 5500rpm
Max torque390 lb ft @ 3000rpm
Weight1642kg
Power-to-weight219bhp/ton
0-60mph5.5sec
Top speed155mph (limited)
Est. running costs£1100 per year (includes depreciation and maintenance but excludes insurance and fuel)
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

The Mercedes 190E Evo II is reborn as a £730k restomod built by HWA
HWA EVO
News

The Mercedes 190E Evo II is reborn as a £730k restomod built by HWA

The engineering firm behind a number of iconic AMG race cars is building a run of 100 Evo II restomods, priced from £730k apiece
4 Jun 2024
Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé (2014-2021): a lavish grand tourer for as little as £35,000
Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé - front
Reviews

Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé (2014-2021): a lavish grand tourer for as little as £35,000

Discreet and underrated, but brilliantly fit for purpose – the S63 Coupé is a remarkable GT car for Golf GTI money
2 Apr 2024
New Mercedes-AMG CLE53 – two more cylinders for £25,000 less than a C63
Mercedes-AMG CLE 53
News

New Mercedes-AMG CLE53 – two more cylinders for £25,000 less than a C63

The new CLE coupe has gained a straight-six engined AMG version, with prices starting from £72,990
24 Jan 2024
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLE63 S E Performance spied – 671bhp hybrid spotted in drop-top form
Mercedes-AMG CLE63 cabriolet
Spy shots

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLE63 S E Performance spied – 671bhp hybrid spotted in drop-top form

AMG's new four-seat coupe and cabriolet ranges will be topped by a 671bhp AMG flagship, spied testing in Germany
9 Nov 2023
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars
Used mid-engined bargains
Group tests

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars

Everyone should own a mid-engined car at least once in their life, and the S2 Elise, Mk3 MR2 and 987 Boxster S are brilliant places to start
15 Jun 2024
How bad are modern car user interfaces? We ask an airline pilot
Technology overload
Features

How bad are modern car user interfaces? We ask an airline pilot

Do today’s touchscreen car user interfaces ask too much of the driver? And how can they be improved? We get an Airbus pilot’s expert opinion
18 Jun 2024
Porsche Cayenne GTS 2024 review – the SUV that might get you out of an RS6
Porsche Cayenne GTS – front
Reviews

Porsche Cayenne GTS 2024 review – the SUV that might get you out of an RS6

The new Cayenne model offensive continues with the introduction of the GTS, the sweet-spot in the line-up.
18 Jun 2024