Test Car Specifications
Model tested: Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4Matic+
Price: to be confirmed
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 biturbo petrol
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 203g/km (Band K, £640 per year)
Combined economy: 31.7mpg
Top speed: 155mph (186mph optionally)
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Power: 612hp at 5,750- to 6500rpm
Torque: 850Nm at 2,250- to 5,000rpm
Mercedes-AMG's take on the E-Class, which means a big engine and traditionally more power than the chassis might be expected to cope with. There's no questioning the engine output this time around; the E 63 in standard guise delivers a not insubstantial 571hp and 750Nm of torque, but then there's the E 63 S, which bumps that power up to a rather more satisfying 612hp and adds 100Nm to the torque figure. That all adds up to a 3.4-second 0-62mph time (3.5 in the E 63) and 155mph top speed, assuming you've not gone and ticked the box for the optional AMG Driver's Package, which increases the Vmax to 186mph.
The S also features a smarter electronically controlled rear differential and active engine mounts, but the big news across both models is that AMG has finally gone the way of its quattro rivals and added four-wheel drive. AMG's boss, Tobias Moers, says it's a very AMG take on four-wheel drive, so it's predominantly rear-drive and, if you happen to have a track handy and want to ruin a set of rear tyres, there's a Drift Mode, which effectively decouples drive to the front axle and pushes it all to the back.
How does it drive?
With a sophistication that's new to AMG's E-Class offering. Even if you opt for that Drift Mode, the E 63 S's ability to exploit its ample power is genuinely impressive. In honesty, that setting is a gimmick, as, if you turn the ESP off and select Race mode (with drive being diverted to where it's best used), we found that the E 63 S could be driven at our sideways angle of choice on track. That underlines just how sorted the chassis is at the extremes of its limits, though that same exploitable, predictable poise and agility is obvious even when driven at more sensible speeds on the road.
Indeed, given the mighty 612hp output it's surprising that the first thing that strikes you about driving the E 63 S isn't its powerplant - impressive as it is - but the way it steers. The flat-bottomed, chunky rimmed steering wheel delivers nice weighting backed with some genuine communication. It's right up among the very best of the electrically assisted racks we've yet experienced. That, coupled to the faithful response it delivers, means you really can enjoy the turn-in accuracy, and understeer is only apparent if you're a bit ambitious with your entry speed. Then, and only then you might feel the four-wheel drive working to help sort things out, but for the most part that 4Matic+ system's operation is all but imperceptible.
The steering response and feel are aided by a suspension set up that rides with real composure regardless of the tautness of your selected driving mode. In Comfort it's exactly that, though even in its firmest, most focused setting there's still remarkable wheel and body control. The way the E 63 S manages is mass exhibits real sophistication, riding high speed compressions and difficult surfaces with remarkable control. It's that as much as the engine's prodigious output that determines the E 63 S's staggering cross-country pace.
A chassis that dominates proceedings in an AMG is something of a departure from the once engine-focused dragster norm, and the E 63 S takes the fight to the competition on more than mere numbers alone. The engine remains a highlight though, the 4.0-litre with its 'hot-v' mounted twin-turbos gaining twin scroll technology, while the intake system has been revised and all the control systems tweaked to allow it its greater output and improved response.
That it still sounds magnificent is a given, and that noise is useful, as with nine ratios to play with via the gearchange paddles, you rely on your ears. The engine's ample low-rev shove and high-rev urge mean you could be lazy, but the shift's good enough to enjoy, as it's quick and, unlike some AMG transmissions of old, faithful to commands. Like the E-Class it's based on, there are all sorts of autonomous features to allow it to virtually drive itself, but we're not huge fans of that autonomous tech elsewhere, and really cannot fathom why you'd ever want to let a computer take over even the most mundane drives in this - largely because there's unlikely to ever be one.
AMG has raised the bar with the new E 63 S, bringing a sensational chassis to its usual high power offering, catapulting the E 63 S right to the top of the class. The people at BMW will need to work very hard to create an M5 that's as engaging and fun as this, while Porsche's Panamera Turbo will need the as yet un-announced S model to keep up.