So yes, we're all patently aware that the
latest E63 does powerslides
around a race track
. But let's not delude ourselves: people spending the best part of £100,000 on a supersaloon aren't going to be melting Michelins on the regular. So what is the E63 like on a very early journey to work on the M1? How does it cope with an M6-M40-M25 journey from Cheshire to London? What about in traffic? Or around town? And just how fast is it down the quarter-mile?
No escaping the size in the UK...
Sorry, we had to. A set of fortuitous circumstances - honest guv - meant that the E63 loan coincided with our Santa Pod Sunday Service. Rude not to, right? 11.32 seconds at 122.8mph was our best result, a ludicrous time for a four-door saloon. "That thing's a bloody animal" was the marshal's verdict. We didn't check with the GT-R owner that it beat...
Pleasingly for a new-school AMG, with various modes, settings and - yes - the four-wheel drive, the powertrain dominates the E63 experience. This was discussed at length in the original review so we won't dwell on it for long now, but suffice it to say that the closer confines of UK roads make it feel faster than it probably would have on the launch. Which is to say obscenely so. If you want to erupt in fits of laughter down a slip road, this is the car for you.
... even if you paint it battleship grey!
It's a great engine to use too. Throttle response is fantastic for an engine with two turbos, the sound is mega and, bar the occasional hesitation, the nine-speed auto is very good as well. Given BMW struggled with the emotional appeal of the engine in
the outgoing M5
, it will be fascinating to see just how the next one competes with this excellent Mercedes V8. It even did more than 30mpg. Once.
Being in the UK means dealing with UK roads though, and here the E63 doesn't perform quite as faultlessly. Despite a multitude of modes for the air suspension, the ride really is rather firm at lower speeds. Indeed the suspension modes were tried only to find them way too stiff and comfort mode reinstated PDQ. Anything beyond that makes the car agitated and fidgety on bumpier tarmac, a point not helped by the car's sheer size. Though urban and rural roads are not the environments the E63 is designed for, to find it as awkward as it is does come as rather a surprise.
On wider, faster, better surfaced roads, the E63 feels absolutely supreme though. It cruises with aplomb, much more comfortable and with the engine ticking along at less than 2,000rpm. There's more noise than in something like an E220d, but that's to be expected with 265- and 295-section tyres here.
Bravo sir, an excellent job
When pushed, even without the Drift Mode engaged, there is a sense of rear-driven balance to the E63's handling. Certainly its 4WD system feels more exciting than the A45's in the UK, even if having four wheels powering out of a bend remains a rather alien sensation in an AMG. It does require commitment though; certainly anyone familiar with the on-demand oversteer of an old AMG will find this new approach slightly odd. Despite the histrionics of the engine, this E63 is very much the serious sports saloon of AMG's style now - some will embrace the all-encompassing ability, while just as many could well bemoan the passing of an easy-going V8 supersaloon.
There's so much that makes this latest AMG E63 a formidable sports saloon, with its engine, interior and style most likely to be enough for a lot of buyers. Don't forget there's that estate too. However it seems something of a shame that, with so much made of this car's endless configurability, the ideal E63 AMG for 2017 doesn't feel to be quite there yet. With a fraction more comfort and - if we're being brutally honest - a silly streak you can appreciate on the road as well as the track, the E63 has the potential to be one of the supersaloon greats.
MERCEDES-AMG E63 S 4MATIC+
Engine: 3,982cc, V8 bi-turbo
Transmission: 9-speed automatic AMG Speedshift MCT, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 612@5,750-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 627@2,500-4,500rpm
Top speed: 186mph
Weight: 1,950kg (kerb weight)
MPG: 31 (NEDC combined)
Price: £88,295 (£101,125 as tested comprised of Premium package including Keyless-go comfort package, Panoramic glass sunroof, Burmester surround sound and Multibeam LED intelligent light system, £1,695 for driving assistance plus package including active blind spot and lane keeping assist, active brake assistg and evasive steering assist, active lane change assist, drive pilot, pre-safe impulse side and pre-safe plus and AMG sports seats, £765 for AMG driver's package including increased top speed and driver training, £795 for AMG night package including AMG bodystyling in gloss black and privacy glass, £1,000 for AMG performance exhaust, £1,795 for 20-inch AMG cross-spoke alloy wheels in gloss black, £295 for heated rear seats, £895 for designo Hyacinth Red metallic paint and £2,995 for AMG carbon fibre trim)
[We tested the Hyacinth Red E63 S but only Designo Grey photos were available - sorry! - NA]