The new £60,640 E 55 AMG heads up a range that has redefined the executive saloon market. In dynamic ability, safety and now performance, the E-Class range is unmatched.
Powering the new super saloon is a supercharged eight cylinder engine, developing an astounding 476 hp. This withering power leaves its rivals trailing in its wake, whilst also propelling the four-door saloon to some extraordinary performance figures. 0–62.5 takes a mere 4.7 seconds and top speed is limited to 155 mph.
One of the technical highlights of the highly sophisticated AMG engine is the mechanical supercharger positioned between the cylinder banks, which exerts a maximum 0.9 bar pressure on the engine. Inside the compact supercharger, two Teflon-coated aluminium shafts rotate at a maximum of 23,000 revs per minute, pushing 1850 kg of air per hour into the eight combustion chambers.
The scroll compressor is not permanently running and is only activated under certain engine speed and load conditions. The engine electronics send the command to an electromagnetic coupling, which immediately switches on the compressor by means of a separate poly-V-belt. The system has two advantages: on the one hand, it means that the compressor can be activated in a split-second and the driver’s acceleration command implemented directly and without delay, and on the other, the engine consumes less fuel in part-throttle operation when the compressor is not in use.
Integrated into the compact charger module is the engine-mounted intercooler, which works with an air/water heat exchanger. The air compressed by the supercharger is channelled along to a water source, which flows in a separate circuit from the engine coolant.
This means that the air can be cooled before it enters the combustion chambers – the supercharged eight-cylinder motor helps maximise all available power and torque, regardless of the air temperature outside. The low-temperature circuit is integrated into the cooling module along with the engine radiator and the air conditioning condenser, whilst the large air inlet in the AMG front bumper apron ensures optimum air flow through the vehicle.
The power of the engine radiator’s 850-watt intake suction fan has been boosted to take into account the increased cooling needs of the engine. The engine’s oil cooling is also more efficient. In the E 55 AMG’s offside wheel arch is a separate oil cooler, which is supplied with cooling fresh air by the front apron, whilst a fan is also activated if necessary.
The fuel system and exhaust of the E 55 AMG have been re-designed, as well as the engine and cooling systems. Two pumps integrated into the fuel tank ensure reliable fuel supply in any driving situation. The twin-pipe AMG sports exhaust with its switchover valve (which works in a similar principle to a church organ pipe) gives aural delight with its incredible hard-edged roar under acceleration.
The 70 mm tailpipe diameter gives low exhaust gas backpressure, whilst two under-bonnet thin-walled firewall catalytic converters, four metal catalytic converters on the vehicle floor, plus a total of four oxygen sensors ensure effective emission control. This cutting-edge technology allows the E 55 AMG to meet the strict EU4 standards well ahead of their implementation deadline of 2005.
Suspension is provided by the E-Class’s acclaimed AIRMATIC DC semi-active air suspension system with ADS II. This allows the driver to select a more relaxed or extremely dynamic setting for their journey. The damping and springs use state-of-the-art microelectronics to adapt instantaneously to the driving situation in hand. Data is processed relating to the steering and yaw angle of the body, longitudinal and transverse acceleration, vehicle level and driving style. The desired suspension setting can also be selected manually through three stages, thus satisfying the most diverse customer preferences.
New AMG spring struts with lower air volume ensure faster responses, giving the car’s handling a sportier edge, whilst changes made to the settings of the AMG shock absorbers in all three stages have resulted in reduced body movement. The automatic level control system ensures identical spring travel all-round, even when the car is fully laden.
Out on the road, the body is lowered by 15 millimetres once the driver accelerates past 87 mph, in order to reduce the aerodynamic drag. The car rises back to its normal level when it drops back below 44 mph. The E 55 AMG’s body is already set 10 millimetres lower than standard. Thanks to stronger stabilisers with 50 per cent more torsional rigidity, the E 55 AMG’s roll angle is only very slight when cornering at speed. The settings of the electronic suspension control system, including ESPÒ, have been modified in response to the car’s sportier driving dynamics.
Braking is provided by the revolutionary Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC™) system pioneered by the SL-Class Roadster.
The E 55 AMG’s safety tally is impressive. As well as a rigid passenger safety cell, and the use of high strength steels throughout, the E-Class is the world’s first saloon car to have a rollover sensor as standard. If the vehicle rolls, the car triggers the side airbags and seat belt tensioners to help protect occupants. This forms part of the car’s unique ARMADA system, which uses sensors and algorithms to improve detection of accident type, and therefore give the best combination of protection.Published 23 October 2002