Mercedes E55 AMG (W211): Market Watch

Mercedes' 2002 W211 E55 AMG didn't just provide the athletic styling the boxier W210 had been lacking but it upped the ante in terms of power output too. And how. Adding an IHI supercharger took E55 performance to a new level of ferocity; with an epic 516lb ft of torque from just 2,650rpm the E55 had more than a flavour of the bombastic SL55 it shared an engine with.

Despite weighing in at a hefty 1,835kg it still passed 62mph in just 4.7 seconds and, unlimited, could reach 180mph. And being the ultimate exec, the standard spec included almost everything Mercedes could find in its options cupboard, including a five-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission, two-tone leather trim, a top-end Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 sound system, electric heated memory seats, AMG bodystyling, AMG-tuned Airmatic suspension, AMG brakes, alloys and lashings of branding both inside and out - as well as V8 KOMPRESSOR lettering on the front wings. Buyers could choose their E55 is either saloon or estate guise, with a total of 639 UK examples sold between 2002 and 2006.

Mercedes facelifted the W211 in 2006, with a new even bigger-capacity £68,409 E63 AMG model the headline act. But the E63's new 6,208cc V8 motor did away with a supercharger, relying on sheer capacity to deliver the requisite performance. Power peaked at 514hp, whilst torque was impressive 464lbs ft - despite the lack of forced induction - and both steering, braking and handling were improved.

Readily identified by horizontal eyebrow louvres at the top of the headlamps, the E63's 0-62mph time was a fraction quicker at 4.5 seconds and the adaptive seven-speed automatic transmission came with three programmes: Comfort, Sport and Manual. As with the E55, the E63 claimed an opulent spec, whilst options included an AMG Performance Pack (with a limited-slip differential) suspension enhancements, a bespoke sports steering wheel, two-tone leather upholstery and carbon interior trim. Mercedes-Benz UK sold 128 UK cars before the latest W212 E-Class arrived in 2009.

The E55 and E63 feel very different on the road though - the E55 is the blue-collar W211, more raucous, louder, brasher but less sophisticated. Five speeds are more than enough when you have that much torque at low revs and the E55's brute force is exhilarating. The white-collar E63 on the other hand feels far more refined, smoother, better handling perhaps and definitely quieter - at least from the driver's seat. But although it's just as fast as the E55, it doesn't always feel it - unless of course you're prepared to utilise all the revs and gears available. That said, the E63 AMG's engine is surely one of the most impressive production V8s ever made.

As with the W210, a relatively limited supply of good examples has laid the foundation for increasing residuals, although values haven't started to rise significantly yet. "The supercharged E55 W211 AMG will eventually achieve classic status - with values likely to rise gently over the next few years," reckons Robert Redman at Glass's. "Limited supply has seen demand for the very best examples already rising." As for the W211 E63 AMG that's harder to predict, partly because of sizeable W212 sales.

Which W211 is best? Well if you plan to modify the car at all then it has to be the E55. Chetan Sharma at Mercedes tuners CKS Performance is in no doubt. "The W211 E55 is my firm favourite for upgrading, we upgrade many every week - the M113 Kompressor engine works in harmony with the W211 E55 chassis, yet the vehicle is still low-profile," he says. "You could park next to one and have no idea what it is capable of!" Add a full exhaust system, a pulley kit, an air filter and a few other ancillary parts and a remap will see your E55 AMG producing in excess of 600hp - and that's 200mph territory. Oliver Stoner at Prestige Car Service agrees. "In my opinion the W211 E55 AMG is the best buy for performance-per-pound - even in standard trim." E63 AMG owners beg to differ though, feeling the more polished E63 is still a better choice.

Buy if: you want one of the UK's ultimate performance bargains (E55 AMG only)
Don't buy if: you're bothered about running costs, or keeping up with the latest fashion
We found: 2004 E55 AMG saloon, Obsidian Black, full service history, 76k miles, £11,500
Price Guide
Poor: Under £9,000 (E55), under £14,000 (E63)
Good: £9,000 to £11,500 (E55), £14,000 to £22,000 (E63)
A1: £11,500+ (E55), £22,000+ (E63)
Special Editions: E63 Performance Pack can add up to £2000 to the asking price

Mercedes Benz W212 E63 AMG(2009-)
Mercedes Benz W210 E55 AMG (1996-2002)
Mercedes Benz W211 E55 AMG (2003-2009)

Photos: Tom Begley