So, who's going to blink first and break 600hp in a 'regular' saloon? Jaguar, BMW, Audi and now AMG are all getting close and, surely, but facelift away from making this the new benchmark for mega barges.
New AMG grille and more power behind it
Suffice to say, even by the standards of the genre there's some serious willy waggling going on between the main German players with the refreshed E63 AMG -
with a range-wide
- returning to the ring packing a 585hp punch in its new flagship S variant. This replaces the previous Performance Pack option, which on the outgoing car boosted power from the standard 525hp to 557hp.
On the new one the 'base' 63 gets the 557hp, the S 585hp and torque of 590lb ft from the standard 531lb ft. Mighty in other words. This is the third AMG take on the W212 E63, the original one from 2009 using the celebrated M156 6.2-litre normally aspirated V8 before the switch to the much more torquey (and efficient) M157 5.5-litre twin turbo in 2011.
Visual tweaks aside the changes are less far reaching this time round, at least for us. In the US and other markets the new E63 will be a 4Matic four-wheel drive, a significant move for AMG and one previewed with teaser drives by both Motor Trend and Car And Driver. For Stateside AMG buyers that's a big deal, the straightforward muscle car appeal of rear-driven, V8 Mercs always popular in the US and the move to four-wheel drive causing some disquiet among enthusiasts. Meanwhile we'll stick with the traditional rear-driven set-up. We'll call that one-all given we don't get the manual M5 then.
Wagon remains the discerning choice
There are significant performance gains for the revised model too, the most spectacular (on the spec sheet at least) being the S version's 3.6-second 0-62mph time. You can argue the relevance of this figure but, rest assured, if it comes to a battle of spec sheets down the pub you've got nearly a second in hand over
(4.4 seconds) and even the
trails by three tenths. Top speed is the usual regulated 155mph, with the option to raise this to 187mph if you slip AMG a few extra quid and attend a training event.
Other than that it's the same as the previous E63s, which means AMG's halfway house 'auto with a lock-up clutch' Speedshift MCT 7 gearbox and the steel springs up front and air at the back of previous versions, the reason being that AMG-worthy spring rates on the 48mm wider front axle would require air springs of such rigidity it'd ruin the low-speed ride. Quirky perhaps but it's a proven set-up. Standard brakes are 360mm composite discs with six-pot calipers up front, the S getting red calipers plus the option of 420mm ceramic rotors weighing 40 per cent less and with the requisite increase in bite and staying power. The S model also gets the mechanical LSD that was previously part of the Performance Package plus as-yet unspecified 'further optimisation' for the front axle over the standard E63.
Red brake calipers mark out S versions
Mercedes is making a lot of noise about the revised styling too, the E63 apparently the first AMG to bear the new twin-blade radiator and 'A-wing' aero blade in the front apron. Said to represent the A of AMG expect it grafted onto the front of a hot Mercedes near you before too long.
Extra cool points are awarded for the survival of the estate version, which is always a fine choice for the high speed transportation of labradors and wellies and a firm PH favourite.
Four doors or five, barely two weeks in and 2013 is already shaping up to be a vintage year for mentalist V8 luxury cars, whether you want them in saloon, estate or four-door coupe form. Hurrah to that. If you've got the cash we say go for it. And if you haven't we'll meet a few years down the line in the PH classifieds. As it stands 6.2-litre E63s seem to be available from around £40K, previous shape W211 models with the same engine for less than half that, supercharged E55 versions for half of that. Bide your time...