Mercedes-AMG E63 review – BMW M5 rival is better than ever
Merc’s big V8-powered saloon and estate is about more than its big power and incredible acceleration times
The Mercedes-AMG E63, a car designed to sit in the fast lane of the Autobahn pushing against its 155mph limiter, scaring other cars out of its way as it dispatches miles and effectively shrinks Germany. To be suited to such a task all the E63 really needs is a powerful engine and a relatively pleasant interior.
However, no one told the engineers at AMG’s Affalterbach HQ, because as well as both of those attributes, Merc’s big supersaloon is as gifted down a tortuous B-road as it is on a derestricted highway. It might well be long and heavy, but it’ll move with the agility of a car 600kg lighter while being thoroughly entertaining in the process.
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Much of the new car’s vast range of abilities can be attributed to its new four-wheel drive system, a trait that means the latest big AMG doesn’t fit the mould created by previous generations of E63 that we got in the UK. But the all-wheel drive system has granted the E63 S Saloon another trick: an incredible 0-60mph time of 3.4sec.
If you still object to the idea of an four-wheel drive AMG, and you think your V8-powered supersaloon should be for vapourising rear tyres, the more powerful E63 S allows you to disengage the front axle and run it rear-wheel drive only.
What’s more, the E63 is available as a über-practical estate. Is there anything it can’t do?
Mercedes-AMG E63 in detail
Performance and 0-60 time – Be prepared for supercar-rivalling acceleration, even in the estate version
Engine and gearbox – AMG’s venerable twin-turbo V8 makes another appearance in the E63. We aren’t complaining
Ride and handling – It might be four-wheel drive and over 1800kg, but the big AMG is truly exciting to drive
MPG and running costs – Huge V8-powered saloons that have the ability to outrun mid-engined sports cars are not cheap to run; the E63 is no different
Interior and tech – The E-class interior isn’t transformed in the AMG, but that’s far from a problem when the original architecture is so well suited
Design – Without lots of sporty add-ons, the E63 is quite a subtle-looking car. That might not be to everyone’s tastes
Prices, specs and rivals
Just a fraction less than £80,000 will buy you a basic E63, a non-S model in saloon form. But if you want more space, more performance or both, there are options. For an extra £2000 you can get the incredibly practical E63 Estate, with the same 563bhp twin-turbo V8.
Greater performance costs significantly more, however. The E63 S, with 604bhp, a 0.1sec faster 0-62mph time and a switchable four-wheel drive system, costs £89,290 – £9360 more. Again, like the basic car, an extra £2000 can turn the S into a wagon.
There’s one clear rival to the current E63, as there has been for every big AMG saloon, and that’s the BMW M5. Like the Merc, the BMW has a twin-turbo hot-V V8, an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive that can be switched to rear-wheel drive at will, just like the E63 S. Despite having 0.4-litres extra engine capacity, the BMW doesn’t quite match the E63 S’s 604bhp, but sits ahead of the non-S with 592bhp. Both cars are so close on paper that you couldn’t guess a winner between the two, so we’ll have to get them both together to reach a proper verdict.
The BMW doesn’t come as an estate, or Touring in BMW parlance. The E63’s other, less obvious rival, the Porsche Panamera Turbo, is available as a saloon and estate. The Porsche’s twin-turbo hot-V V8 engine (clearly the must-have engine for any modern super saloon) is down on power compared to the E63, even the non-S. The Porsche puts out 542bhp, in both saloon and Sport Turismo (estate to you and I) bodystyles. However, despite lacking the firepower and feeling a little dumpier than the Merc, on the road there’s very little difference in terms of pace. When we got them both together, it was the AMG’s more natural dynamics that helped it come out on top.