by: Mike Ginsca
European muscle. Those two words are seldom seen together when talking about European cars. But it seems that is very much the direction that German automakers are heading into. BMW has the M5, Audi has the RS7, and Mercedes-Benz has the E63 AMG.
Performance – The muscle of this AMG tuned E-class comes from the same engine that is found throughout a variety of AMG models. It is a 5.5L V8, although why Mercedes calls it a 63 is a mystery, and it is capable of producing 518hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. But don’t let that power figure scare you because this entire car has two completely different personalities. On one hand it is a comfortable luxury wagon but on the other it is a snarling muscle car that is capable of accelerating to 100km/h in just 4.2 seconds. When the car is in “AMG mode”, the engine response is immediate and because it’s a European muscle car, the torque is always there regardless of the rpm. You have to be very aware of how hard you push on the go-faster-pedal because the speed builds up incredibly quickly and the next thing you know is that you’ll be talking with a police officer that’s standing outside the driver’s side window.
In “AMG mode” the 7-speed MCT automatic transmission shifts gears as quickly as possible and with the same feeling as a dual clutch. In this mode it can be controlled by the car’s computer or shifting can be done by the driver via metallic paddles mounted to the steering wheel. The suspension is also set to the stiffest setting possible in the “AMG mode”. Using the “sport plus” setting on the suspension on normal city streets is unbearable, even for younger drivers, but on a smooth race track or a freshly paved mountain road the car feels planted and body roll is kept in check thanks to the revised suspension tweaks that Mercedes-Benz gave the E63 AMG. In the past, Mercedes-Benz’s focus has always been on power which is why they fitted nearly every model they had with their massive V12 twin turbocharged engine that produces in excess of 600hp, but now they’ve changed their focus on handling and driving dynamics and it shows when you drive this E63 with some enthusiasm. In the past, letting the back wheels slip meant that you’d probably end up backwards into a lamp post but with the current version of the E63 AMG, it is easy to control the car once the rear tires start to slip. The car almost makes you look like a professional behind the wheel and it feels very graceful through corners, like a ballerina rather than a construction worker.
Comfort – But when you’re not carving through canyon corners and just want to get to work in a city core, the E63 AMG can feel like any other Mercedes-Benz product. The suspension can be set to comfort as well as the transmission for a relaxing drive on your way to work. In comfort mode, the suspension absorbs the worst potholed city streets and the transmission actually starts in 2nd gear from a stop to provide a smoother launch and acceleration. Inside the cabin it feels like any other Mercedes-Benz. There is not much to differentiate the E63 from other E-class models apart from the row of buttons on the center console and the fact that it says “AMG” on the speedometer. Sound is kept to a minimum during normal city driving but there is just enough noise intruding into the cabin from the snarling engine once you put your foot down. And when you do put your foot down, the sport seats have added side bolstering to keep you firmly seated when taking corners furiously however they still provide enough padding and comfort on long haul trips from city to city.
Odds and Ends – The E63 AMG is available with a wide range of electronic features to keep the occupants safe and entertained. On the safety side of things, there are airbags everywhere in the cabin and Attention Assist and PreSafe are standard features that monitor the driver’s drowsiness levels and can detect an imminent collision and take precautions to reduce injury to the occupants. If you select the driver assistance package as well, the car comes equipped with blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning/correction system, and PreSafe braking. On the entertainment side of things, Mercedes-Benz utilizes what’s called the COMAND infotainment system. From the controls on the center console, the driver can view the satellite navigation, access the sounds system, make a telephone call, manage address book, and etc. It is a system that is neither better nor worse than what the competitors from Audi and BMW offer but it does look like it needs an update in terms of how it displays the satellite navigation and other information.
Speaking of looks, both the exterior and interior of the E63 AMG look like they’ve been styled using only a ruler. There are very few curves to be found anywhere on the body of the car. The whole car looks forgetful and it doesn’t stand out like its brother, the CLS. However this car is primarily aimed at people that are middle-aged and they tend to not buy flashy vehicles for daily use.
Overall the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG is a great vehicle. It can comfortably carry 5 passengers over long distances without any issues but at the push of a button, it can carry those 5 occupants and all of their luggage like as though their pants are on fire. The relentless and powerful engine coupled with the revised handling characteristics and the space of the wagon design will make people wonder why they would ever consider buying an SUV when they could have this instead.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.