When was the last time you climbed out of an AMG product of any type and thought "Do you know what this needs? More power". So quite who asked the question of the latest E63 and why Mercedes felt the need to answer in the form of the S begs a question or two.
No quicker way to get your furniture home
are pretty staggering. Over the standard E63, the S brings another 28hp and 59lb ft to make 585hp and 590lb ft. There's also a standard LSD and red brake calipers (with the option of carbon discs) for the extra £10,000.
This is the rear-wheel-drive stablemate to the 4Matic version that we won't get, and that seems a truly mad decision when faced with putting all that 585hp through rear tyres on wet and cold British roads.
Donner und blitzen
The car's arrival coincides with all that blustery weather we got recently and trying to exploit even a fraction of the car's potential in these less than perfect conditions requires restraint. The easiest solution? Rely on the electronics to rein in your indiscretions. Heading north in the Merc to participate in the Race the Runway charity event in Edinburgh the weather and roads promise to improve considerably as we head up country.
A very, very fast car. And a Lamborghini
There is something hugely appealing about stealthy super wagons. And in gunmetal grey with a liberal coating of grime, the E63 could be dismissed as an unassuming family runabout. But the cues are there. The 19-inch alloys with those massive red AMG calipers lurking behind. The fat quad pipes crammed into the rear diffuser. The NASCAR thrum when you wake the V8.
Supple ride – really
And once the roads dry the S reveals itself to be a surprisingly faithful and nimble companion. The softest damper setting gives the car a nicely supple ride without compromising body control. Front end grip is strong and turn-in nice and direct. The steering weight is excellent, too, engendering confidence to press on.
The standard limited-slip diff has many advantages, and not just childish ones. The A696 and A68 running up from Newcastle to Jeburgh offer some fabulous driving and spectacular views as well as the opportunity to dig deeper into the AMG's reserves. Overtaking is absurdly easy. The pick-up, whatever the speed, whatever the ratio, is immense. You just annihilate anything in your path and even the tiniest of opportunity feels like the Mulsanne Straight.
585hp, 590lb ft and a fabulous noise
Grip in the dry is superb and the middle setting on the dampers is soft enough to dissipate nasty lumps but gives nice, taut body control. Handling balance is spot on. The car is resistant to push and feels neutral as you pour in the power. Clearly there is always the potential to overwhelm grip, no matter how good the road surface. But the limits are high, the information through the steering good and the power delivery - though brutal - is still linear and easy to modulate. The brakes are colossal, especially considering the near two-tonne mass of the vehicle.
My dream drive
The only real gripe is with the gearbox. It's fine in the auto settings but when you want it to be whip-crack fast and you assume manual control, it doesn't feel as slick or quick as some rivals - such as the system now fitted to the Audi RS6. But such is the muscularity of the performance it rarely seems an issue and you do learn how to time your shifts for maximum attack.
This button wasn't used much
The rest of the Mercedes 'E' experience just adds depth to the headlining performance. The vast boot, quality interior and superb refinement give levels of practicality and comfort that seem utterly at odds with the mind-bending performance. The seats are magnificent on long journeys, massaging away fatigue, warming (or cooling) to perfection.
The cars we remember most fondly are the ones we form an emotional link with. And the E63 S accomplishes everything you could ever wish for from a motor car. It swallows passengers and luggage by the tonne. It cossets and pampers, informs and adapts. It blows you away with its straight-line performance and turns magnificent cross-country drives that will linger long in the memory.
Is there any real benefit to optioning the S over the standard E63 other than bragging rights? Not really. Will that stop those with the means from desiring Mercedes' most brutal load-lugger? Of course not. Is this going on the PH lottery win shopping list? Oh, yes!
MERCEDES-BENZ E63 S AMG
Engine: 5,461cc V8, twin turbo, direct injection
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
Power (hp): 585@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 590@1,750-5,250rpm
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
MPG: 28.3 (NEDC combined)
Price: £84,985 (OTR, before options)