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Friday 16th December 2011

Driven: Mercedes E63 AMG Estate

Loads have never been lugged so quickly but can the turbo 5.5 match the old 6.2?



Time was BMW M and AMG ploughed parallel but very distinct furrows. Of late though the two rivals appear to have removed the gloves and gone for each other bare-knuckle style.

The replacement for displacement? Turbos...
The replacement for displacement? Turbos...
No more so than with the new E63 AMG. Visually the same as its predecessor the only real change you'll see from the outside is the switch from 6.3 V8 to V8 Biturbo on the front wings (broader to contain the bespoke, 56mm-wider AMG front axle). This new 5.5-litre engine has a very different character to the much loved M156 6.2 though. This is engine downsizing then, in a very AMG fashion.

So to those M5 comparisons. The BMW's V8 is a comparatively modest 4.4 litres but develops 560hp and 501lb ft, the latter between 1,500 and 5,750rpm. AMG's manages 525hp and 516lb ft, again in a huge fat wedge between 1,750 and 5,000rpm. One nil to Bavaria then? Not necessarily. Because if your ego can't quite deal with that slight power imbalance Mercedes will gladly relieve you of a further £6,495 (£5,895 for the estate) to raise power to 557hp and torque to a frankly ludicrous 590lb ft. Oh, and you get red brake calipers too. Bargain.

The E63 AMG: too fast for the PH camera
The E63 AMG: too fast for the PH camera
Number crunching
In terms of performance even the standard E63 pips the M5 to 62mph by a tenth (4.3 seconds versus 4.4) with another tenth off with the Performance Package. Both have seven-speed automated gearboxes, the M5 a DCT and the Mercedes a seven-speed auto with AMG's MCT lock-up clutch instead of the regular torque convertor. Even the emissions and fuel consumption figures are to within fractions of each other.

So much for the spec sheet comparisons, because in this battle it comes down to character.

It's crucial too. Because AMG set itself one hell of a hurdle replacing the wonderfully charismatic 6.2 V8. Offering the 5.5 in an estate body is a good start, there always being something rather cool about mega-horsepower wagons.

Fast wagon a PH favourite
Fast wagon a PH favourite
The question of over-specced press carshas come up recently, but if you like the look of the E63 wagon you need to keep a close eye on this particular car. Boasting a heroic £90,960 price tag someone had some real fun here, loading it to the gunwales but not passing the opportunity to tick the box marked 'AMG locking differential' and adding another £2,450 to the price. Given the rate of depreciation on some AMGs, this car is going to be a bargain for someone a couple of years down the line...

A future 'Spotted' in the making
And what a treat they'll be in for. First impressions of the new turbo V8 are that, try as it might (and it tries really, really hard) it can't quite match the instantaneous, linear response of the 6.2, or its hard-edged engine note.

It does, however, have that mind-warping elasticity and bigger initial wallop, peak torque coming in at 1,750rpm rather than 5,200rpm as before. Frankly it's a bit daft, what seems like a moderate squeeze of the gas on a motorway slip road seeing you arrive in lane one in a blaze of brake lights and 'oh cripes, not again' at the numbers that have just appeared on the speedo.

Old school solid Merc build, at a price
Old school solid Merc build, at a price
It's the same when overtaking on single-carriageway roads, the novelty of taking superbike style opportunities to take two, three or more cars in one hit in a relatively discreet looking Mercedes wagon never less than hilarious.

There's a fluidity and natural ease about all E-Classes that survives the AMGing process too. The steering is beautifully weighted and geared, the extra track and negative camber at the front end giving it useful extra bite that can be neatly balanced on the throttle with the optional diff. A shade off two tonnes (the saloon is 105kg less) the E63 is never going to be nimble on its feet but its ability to bully the road into submission is frankly astonishing.

Mix and match
Unusually AMG uses steel springs up front and self-levelling air ones at the back and though the system is balanced enough that you'd never know it doesn't feel quite as natural as the C63. Nor will you likely feel moved to go beyond the standard setting and explore the two harder ones.

Well it doesn't look that much smaller
Well it doesn't look that much smaller
The only slight chink in this otherwise overwhelmingly positive package is the gearbox. In the three automatic modes it's slick, S+ in particular very smart and quick to blip its way through downshifts on the approach to corners. But the manual mode gives ground to BMW's DCT by often refusing to downshift on demand.

The E63 - especially this one with its £90K pricetag - is an exceptionally ludicrous piece of kit. But it's AMG's ability to make it feel simultaneously so sensible that so appeals. Over to you M5...

 


MERCEDES E63 AMG ESTATE
Engine:
5,461cc V8, twin-turbo
Power (hp): 525@5,250rpm (557@5,250 with Perf. Package)
Torque (lb ft): 516@1,750rpm (590@2,000 with Perf. Package)
0-62mph: 4.3/4.4 sec saloon/estate (4.2/4.3 sec with Perf. Package)
Top speed: 155mph (limited, 174mph/186mph saloon/estate with AMG Driver's Package)
Weight: 1,840kg/1,945kg saloon/estate
MPG: 28.8/28 saloon/estate (NEDC combined)
CO2: 230/234g/km saloon/estate
Price: £74,895/£76,895 saloon/estate, £90,960 as tested


 

Dan Trent
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Author Discussion

Hellbound

Original Poster:

2,182 posts

56 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
Any AMG estate gets a thumbs up from me (C63 especially), over any Audi too. I saw my first new M5 yesterday however, and that really did look special. Touring M5 please BMW.

SD1992

5,741 posts

38 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
This does look very nice, but given the choice I would still rather an F10 M5. I hope a touring version is in the pipeline, and a manual version! smile

Please - Mercedes, BMW, and Audi - can we have a manual gearbox in the performance cars?

dapearson

1,790 posts

104 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
"AMG's manages 525hp and 516lb ft"

??

angusc43

2,559 posts

88 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
Merc estate. Superbike-style over taking. I'd give it 11 if I could.

Mastodon2

7,857 posts

45 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
I love it, fast estate cars are seriously cool as mentioned above. I'd take one of these over an F10 M5, even if they made a Touring version. Just a shame it doesn't have the 6.2L V8!
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CraigVmax

12,218 posts

162 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
love it by why still call it the "63"? It wasnt a 6.3 even when it was called that last time.

MogulBoy

1,921 posts

103 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
90 is a huge number but many 991's will be delivered at that price level and so by comparison, it becomes a bit of a bargain barge!

MrTappets

786 posts

71 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
Wonderful, though I think that Merc should stick to number = displacement type labelling. However that's a very small point, I'd have this over an M5 in a flash if I could.

G0ldfysh

3,041 posts

137 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
All car for all days, yes please, lottery win would be first thing before any exotica and most likely the car that was driven more of the time.

FaineantFreddy

4,844 posts

117 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
Have to say driving the previous 6.2 V8 version for a few days changed my mind (almost) about AMGs. To have something that fast and that practical was very tempting, but the fragility of the recent AMGs would play on my mind.

It also attracted more attention from plod than almost any other car I've driven, due to the glorious sound it made on full throttle (which was how I drove it most of the time I had it).

E38Ross

13,470 posts

92 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
surprised an equally specced version is £10k more than an M5. even with the power pack it's still only the same power, and that's a £6k option.

it has more torque but over a thinner band hence the lower power output i suppose.

both lovely cars though

Hellbound

Original Poster:

2,182 posts

56 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
So are we calling estate vehicles 'wagons' now?

Although I'm a Jalop, this isn't Jalopnik.

Jem0911

4,246 posts

81 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
The Company car tax liability might be somewhat harsh but still if I could I would.

oagent

671 posts

123 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
I keep getting tempted by CLK63's but the dubious merc build quality brings me back to earth. Cant help feeling that the BMW might be a better long term proposition if rust and dodgy electrics in 10 yrs time are high on your agenda.

M666 EVO

877 posts

42 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
I find it amazing that 20 years ago the supercars were powered by the very engines that power our family estates now.

Hopefully when I have kids in a decades time my SHED will have a W16 Quad Turbo under the bonnet!

mattcov

457 posts

106 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
I suppose we should be grateful that they are at least keeping V8 engines, but I dread to think what the running costs v potential ££££ failure v value of these will be like when they cost circa £20k and less. Seems to be a big cost just to get that misrepresented co2 value down...

belleair302

4,869 posts

87 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
Lovely styling and serious go....but I would for the money buy an Alpina B5 Touring. More bespoke, a better ride and beautifully built. 507 bhp @ 5500rpm, 516lb ft at 3000-4750 rpm and 0-62 in 4.8. However with a top speed of 188mph the others would be left for dead and the Alpina suspension is yet to be beaten on any car.

Patrick Bateman

4,991 posts

54 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
Left for dead?

How often and where does anyone consider top speed important?

Dave Hedgehog

6,294 posts

84 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
nice car, my kind of thing

but come on 90 grand !!!!

E38Ross

13,470 posts

92 months

[news] 
Friday 16th December 2011 quote quote all
belleair302 said:
However with a top speed of 188mph the others would be left for dead
you mean the M5 which even BMW will raise the limit to 195mph to...? it'll do north of 200mph without the limiter.
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