Updated: Mar 31, 2022
About that headline.
You see, I'm a kid (yes, a kid in his 60s, but still...) who was raised in a small town. A 429-horsepower sport sedan with a starting price tag of $102,600 that looks like this qualifies as "extreme" from that perspective.
That is, until I compare the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GT 53 to the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 I reviewed in January---and which point, moderation enters the picture. See, the GT 63 is a 630-horsepower sport sedan that looks like this except for a wing on its trunk and its starting price tag is $161,900. Yep, that's right. The same basic automobile (if we can even entertain the use of the word "basic" here), with a price difference that would buy you the 2021 Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC that I tested last June---as equipped---and leave you some change. See, suddenly, 201 fewer horsepower and $59,300 in the bank looks positively practical.
All kidding aside, they're both spectacular automobiles, and I'm not trying to dissuade anyone with the means and the desire from buying the GT 63, but let's be honest---very few of us need or can use 630 horsepower. If you gave me sodium pentathol, I'd admit that 429 is a little extra, too, but it just feels so good in the GT 53. The engine is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six (smoooooth) with Mercedes' EQ Boost, a mild hybrid.
We're talking zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds instead of the 3.1 in the GT 63, and you won't miss that extra second. The GT 53 feels fast, is fast, and is a delight to drive in just about any situation. And though the price of fuel might not have mattered to this class of buyers in January, it very likely does as of this writing (mid-March), so the 63's EPA-estimated 16 city/21 highway becomes 19/25 in the GT 53.
As I mentioned at the top, the base price of the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GT 53 is $102,600 and that brings with it a ton of standard equipment---AMG Dynamic Select, AMG Performance 4MATIC, AMG Ride Control sport suspension, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, Keyless Go and Keyless Start, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment functions, navigation, wireless charging, a Burmester surround audio system, a moonroof and quite a bit more.
Extra-cost options? In the case of our tester, yes. $18,505 worth. The Graphite Grey Metallic paint is $750, the black Nappa leather interior is $2,990. The AMG Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather and microfiber adds $500, the Air Balance package, which adds air fragrancing and ionization, is $350. Then there's $1,050 for upgraded 20-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels, $1,850 for the AMG Performance exhaust, $115 for a 115-volt AC power outlet, $500 for yellow seat belts, $700 for enhanced adjustability of the AMG Performance seats, which themselves cost $2,500---$1,000 for a rear bench seat instead of standard buckets, $250 for AMG light display and $1,600 for a black microfiber headliner.
But wait! There's more! The Driver Assistance Package (a full suite of active safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, emergency stop assist) is $1,950, the AMG Night Package (black front splitter, mirror covers, fender trim, window trim and black chrome tailpipe trim) is $750, the Acoustic Comfort Package (added cabin insulation, acoustic windshield and side windows) is $1,100 and the Extended Night Package (exterior elements and lettering in black, with a dark tinted grille) is $550.
So you can't say you don't get a lot for your $18,505. It's all in how you look at it.
Anyway, the as-tested price (with $1,050 destination and delivery) is $122,155.
Which brings us to the place where someone asks "Is it worth it?" Look, I'm a kid from Bishop, California. The only time I ever spent six figures was on a house. But I will say this---I drive 104 cars a year. I'll be sad when they come to pick this one up.