Nearly a century ago, magicians commonly cut their female assistants in half. The assistant would climb into a large box where both the head and feet could be seen protruding. The magician would produce a comically large saw and begin to cut the all too willing victim in half. The saw would exit the bottom of the box, which was then spread for everyone to see head and legs were now separate. This was the gold standard in magic acts until the secret was released and we all felt a bit dumber for having been fooled. This is exactly how I feel after driving the new 2022 Mercedes-Benz (AMG) GT53.
A quick dive into the car finds a combined 429 horsepower 3.0L inline-6 that is both electrically supercharged, turbocharged, AND has a 21 horsepower AC motor. This mid-level trim (there is a GT43 and V8 GT63) can achieve zero to sixty in a tic over four seconds—thanks to all-wheel drive, 315mm rear tires, and a competent 9-speed automatic. The quarter comes in at 12.8 seconds (as tested by Car and Driver). So far, this magic trick looks like it will be entertaining. The lady is climbing into the box, but where is the saw?
The saw is in the appearance. Sleek and low and wide. The rear deck has a slope that means to carve oxygen and nitrogen, and the front has a deep spoiler with a large and upright pie-cut-into-tri logo so desired worldwide. The prestige continues inside with enough infotainment, gadgets, and technology to give the elderly a stroke. Bright finished trim and some of the nicer dash vents are painfully obvious to produce the greatest ‘Oohs and ahhs’. Even the seatbelts, which are yellow, scream showboating.
On the road, it’s nothing less than wizardry. Instead of ‘how’d they cut that lady in half’ it’s ‘how the hell is this thing so fast… and loud!’ Shifts come quick—BANG! 2nd gear! BANG 3rd gear! (More like BANG! Gear unknown! It doesn’t matter, it’s a 9-speed.) The exhaust note is throaty and raw like a 70-year-old lifetime smoker who’s coughing up what’s left of their pulmonary system—raw and forceful, if not a bit gross.
I blasted past a crowd on the corner. The car was pegged and loudly screaming from its disposal pipes. Yet… the pedestrians didn’t even look nor shake. What gives? I rolled down the window and took a listen. It was quiet as a church and loud as the bells at noon inside. Fake exhaust notes… the trick fell apart…
Two assistants in one box? What a crock! Fake exhaust notes?! Bigger crock. The secret was revealed. As the ‘oohs and ahhs’ began wearing off, I began to note all the tell-tale signs of a trick. The technology, while dramatic, was confusing. The button layout is extensive and confusing. My phone, resting in the cupholder, allowed the navigation button to get bumped constantly. The steering wheel has just enough Alcantara to become filthy in a weekend.
But by far were the seats. If the government wants us to become a skinnier and fitter nation, they must have contracted MBZ to build these seats to remind you: that you are fat. They’re absolutely tighter than tight. The side bolsters were shoved into my armpits and my bottom felt like it was shoved into a 5-gallon bucket. This wouldn’t be too bad if the door entry were bigger. I nearly threw my neck out just climbing in. This car must have taken a look at the Alfa Giulia’s comically bad door entry and said: We can be terrible too!
And the secret is out, ‘Mercedes the Great and Powerful’ can no longer cut people in half. The trick is a mere gimmick. The crowds fail to return and may never unless a new act is created. And for a starting base price of $99,995, it’s an expensive show, one that should be far cheaper. The GT53 is two and a half tons of smoke and mirrors. It’s fun while the trick is kept secret.
- M. T. Blake (www.mtblake.net / IG @ _mtblake)