Tuesday 21st August 2018
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Driven: Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate. Image by Mercedes.

Driven: Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate
A storming super-estate from a company thatís renowned for the things.

 



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Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: Wonderful steering, rigid body control, chassis balance, sublime drivetrain, performance, the glorious noise, the subtle-but-menacing looks

Not so good: Feeble fuel range if not cruising, ride quality in Comfort still a bit firm, ungainly 'tyre skip' on full lock in cold weather, it's not an 'S'...

Key Facts

Model tested: Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate (pictures are of an E 63 S)
Price: E-Class Estate range starts from £37,150; E 63 from £81,130, car as tested £89,820
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Transmission: 4Matic all-wheel drive, AMG Speedshift MCT nine-speed automatic
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 207g/km (VED £1,200 first 12 months, then £450 per annum next five years of ownership, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 31mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited; option to raise limiter to 186mph)
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Power: 571hp at 5,750- to 6,500rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 2,250- to 5,000rpm

Our view:

If you're in any doubt whatsoever about whether AMG's shift to four-wheel drive means the masters of tyre-shredding German hooliganism have gone soft, then this Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate is an ideal way of demonstrating that the madness hasn't abated.

This is the 'plain' E 63, which - in some quarters - automatically invites the ludicrous query of 'what, so you didn't want the S; you only wanted the regular car?'. Yes, we 'only' wanted a 'regular' two-tonne estate that can do 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds and would most likely obliterate 200mph if you removed the nannying speed limiter.

You're basically paying more than nine grand to upgrade the 571hp E 63 to the S, which brings 612hp, an additional 100Nm for an 850Nm total, a tenth off the 0-62mph time and the infamous 'Drift Mode' as part of the Race set-up in the drive settings menu, courtesy of the S model's e-diff at the back. The 'regular' E 63 has a mechanical item and Sport+ as its most extreme setting. And yet, while we see the appeal of the E 63 S, the standard AMG will still tear your face off given half the chance.

It still feels wildly tail-happy and rear-driven. It still makes the sort of tremendous V8 racket that befits an AMG product. It is still, in short, a magnificent performance car, from which you could not possibly want any more speed on the roads. It is a proper, bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool, incontrovertible V8 AMG.

All the signs are there from the first few miles you cover in the E 63. Short of some extremely specialised sports car makers, very few companies have got to grips with electrically assisted power steering as well as AMG. The E 63's steering is a total delight; weighted with a wonderful heft and brimming with feel. With that main interface sorted, you then notice how beautifully judged the brakes and throttle are, both features allowing you to meter out the AMG's prodigious accelerative/decelerative abilities to levels of almost scientific precision. The body control is first rate at all times, whether you're in Comfort or Sport+, the handling is fantastic and feels genuinely rear-balanced and really quite lively in damp conditions, and that engine and gearbox combination? It's heavenly. Godlike.

Having driven the 4.0-litre V8 in a number of its applications elsewhere in the Mercedes-AMG family, this variant used in the E-Class may be our favourite yet. The noise is ridiculously good up to 3,000rpm, it's soul-stirring from 3,000- to 6,000rpm, and then you spool it out a few hundred more revs towards the redline and it's enough to bring on a state of euphoria. The exhaust chimes in with all manner of pops, thuds and crackles (in Sport+ mode, at least; otherwise, it's a bit less hysterical) and you end up thinking that no road-going V8 needs to sound as diabolically marvellous as this, surely? And, just in case you're in any doubt whatsoever, the E 63 is fast. Seriously fast. Anywhere, any time.

There's more goodness to the E 63 package. Everything else that makes the E-Class such a superb car in any format is retained here. Like those stunning twin 12.3-inch TFT displays in the 'widescreen' cabin. And the top-quality feel of all the fixtures, fittings and switchgear. And the masses of space in the rear for passengers, plus a colossal 640-litre boot at the back. And the exterior looks - which are so wonderfully understated that, from the rear, it can look almost like a regular E-Class, if it's in grey. And, y'know, you squint a bit. And ignore the quad exhausts.

Do we dislike anything about the E 63 Estate? Well, there are a few things. We used the storming wagon exclusively on quiet, country roads for a week, covering 200 miles in the process - during which, it struggled for most of the time to get close to 20mpg, never mind breaching that number. Thus, it devoured 76 litres of Super Unleaded in that short distance, which is pretty poor given the size of the fuel tank and the supposed benefits that turbocharging give to fuel economy, even on a car as potent as this. Admittedly, we did, er... enjoy the V8 on regular occasions. Hence the 15.4mpg overall figure. Ahem.

Besides that, the adaptive dampers struggle to provide a genuinely comfortable ride in their Comfort mode, the E 63 always feeling necessarily firm. There's always a pang of 'I wish this had 612hp' when you're driving it - sorry to sound contradictory to our opening statements, but there we are. People buying this sort of car will want the top-dog status that only the E 63 S affords, as mesmerisingly good as the 571hp version undoubtedly is.

By far the AMG's worst trait, though - and this one isn't exclusive to the E 63, as we've experienced it on a lot of high-performance German machinery from various brands, when they're wearing big alloys and expensive tyres - is very low-speed, front-axle tyre skip. It manifests as an awful, juddering, crunching noise and is brought about, mainly in cold conditions, when you're on hard lock performing slow manoeuvres. It's the result of pushing the steering geometry to the limit and, while we accept it probably leads to better high-speed handling manners, it's a nasty sensation to experience in a £90,000 car.

It can often feel like you've even hit something or kerbed an alloy or similar, and even though you know the AMG is going to do it after you've experienced it a handful of times, when the E 63 skips while reversing in a car park, your heart sinks and you mentally prepare to fill out an insurance form... only to remember it's only the bloody tyres playing up.

However, that lengthy grouse about a noise the E 63 only makes when it's doing less than 3mph is about our sole complaint. This is a mighty performance estate executed to near perfection, lack of an 'S' on its boot-lid be damned. If you've ever dreamed of owning a practical, yet practically unhinged wagon of this ilk, there is nothing better than this Mercedes-AMG - its baby brother, the stonking rear-wheel drive C 63, included.

So, here you go, Audi - this glittering Mercedes-AMG E 63 is the four-wheel-drive, super-fast estate benchmark for you to try and surpass. Good luck with that one, by the way...

Alternatives:

Audi RS 6 Avant Performance: Outgoing model, with 605hp, remains an absolutely corking thing to drive and it has real presence, thanks to boxy arches - but the E 63 is the more thrilling steer.

BMW 540i xDrive Touring: As we know, BMW is reluctant to do another M5 Touring, so that seems to be out. And the M550i isn't available as a wagon, or in RHD. Thus, the 540i xDrive is hopelessly outgunned by E 63.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo: The only way you're going to out-perform the E 63 Estate is with this £140,000, 680hp monster. And, even then, it's not THAT much quicker...


Matt Robinson - 9 Feb 2018









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2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.

2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate driven. Image by Mercedes.








 

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