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First drive: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate
Could the new E 63 AMG Estate be the most desirable car in the company's line-up? Very possibly.

 



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| First Drive | Wiesbaden, Germany | Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate |

A massive load lugger estate with performance like it's got a rocket up its derrière? That'll be the Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG, and we're rather partial to it.

In the Metal

It's all subtle stuff with the E 63 AMG when compared to a standard E-Class wagon - especially one decked out in Sport trim. Study things a little closer though and the clues are there to single out the powerhouse AMG. The track of the E 63 is 45mm wider than a standard E-Class Estate's for a start and the wings are flared by 17mm to cover the 18-inch alloys that come as standard, although Merc reckons most customers will choose the optional 19-inch items that fill the arches a little more effectively. There's also the AMG body kit to help keep the E 63 shoved into the ground at hyper speed, while the air suspension has been tweaked and lowered and also uses the same front suspension design first seen on the C 63 AMG wagon to improve front end grip, stability and steering feel.

As for the load-lugging part of the equation, the E 63 offers the same amount of luggage space as the regular Estate, rising from 695 litres all the way up to 1,950 litres if you drop the 60/40 split rear seats using the Easy-Pack lever set into the rear pillar. In the passenger cell, the driver is confronted with the same neatly styled dashboard made from high grade materials as in the E 63 AMG saloon. The small gear lever is lined by three buttons and a dial to hone the AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed automatic to the driver's tastes, offering everything from full auto slush mode to manual with race start function and three levels of ESP traction control, including fully on, completely off and an intermediary one for those who just can't decide. Space for the driver and passengers is every bit as good as in the rest of the E-Class Estate line-up, but AMG buyers are blessed with supremely comfortable sports seats in the front, covered in soft leather of course.

What you get for your Money

We could tell you all about the long list of safety equipment, including Pre-Safe to lessen the impact of an accident on the car's occupants, and the luxury goodies, but this is an AMG model. That means the dark heart and soul of this car is all about that 6.2-litre V8 engine lurking under the bonnet. It creates 518bhp at 6,800rpm and drives through a slick 'n' quick seven-speed auto, which can also be treated as a manual gearbox when the driver uses the paddle shifters set behind the steering wheel. This engine and gearbox combo alone makes the E 63 AMG a very special estate and justifies the price jump over the E 500 with its 5.5-litre V8 and 387bhp. Everything else - the Bluetooth connection, CD stereo, climate and cruise controls, and Lane Keeping Assist warning - are all just fripperies. That said, you can spend another fortune on optional extras, which include those 19-inch alloy wheels mentioned earlier, ceramic brakes, limited slip rear differential and a reversing camera to help with parking.

Driving it

What do you want us to say - it's a bit slovenly? With 518bhp on tap and 467lb.ft of torque, the E 63 was never going to be anything other than ballistic. It's a fraction slower than the saloon off the mark, taking 4.6 seconds from 0-62mph compared to the saloon's 4.5 seconds, but we're not going to quibble about this when the E 63 wagon can also take every last bit of tat the average student needs to start fresher week in its huge boot. Keep your right toe hard on the throttle and the E 63 Estate hits a limited top speed of 155mph, though an engineer grinned and hinted to us 200mph is not unreasonable if the limiter is done away with.

Once you get over the dragster performance and the shock of something so big and practical being able to go so quickly - a bit like a 747 Jumbo doing aerobatics - the E 63 starts to really impress. The ride is firm but not so harsh that it crashes or wallops its way over bumpy roads. Unlike an Audi RS6 Avant, which tries to pummel the road into submission, the Merc works with the tarmac it's given and delivers top rate comfort allied to handling that is far less likely to be upset by ripples and dimples than its Audi rival. Go lightly on the throttle and the E 63 is remarkably refined, though once you've heard the volcanic eruption of that 6.2-litre V8 as it heads towards terminal velocity, you'll be wanting more and more. That goes double for the exhaust bark every time the gearbox switches up a notch under full throttle.

The changes to the front suspension also deliver steering in the E 63 that is so much more full of feel than anything the standard E-Class wagon can offer. It's not as sensual as a BMW M5 Touring's helm, but it's laden with more than enough information for the driver to know what this AMG battleship is up to.

Worth Noting

The E-Select lever may be used to put the gearbox into Drive or Reverse or Neutral just like the old model's gear selector, but this new system looks far better and encourages the driver to use the steering wheel paddles more effectively. The Park mode is selected by a separate button, which is one button too many in our view, but the rest of the transmission is a joy to operate. Tinker with the three buttons to fine tune the suspension, ESP and throttle response and the E 63 can be everything from relaxed exec express to frenzied sports car.

Summary

Simply put, the Mercedes E 63 AMG Estate is less extreme than the BMW M5 Touring and Audi RS6. Where the BMW is all rev-tastic and tightly screwed down handling, the Merc offers greater comfort and load capacity along with handling that is still very much in the premier league. Audi may offer an engine linked to Lamborghini, but the E 63's V8 is every bit as well bred and muscle-bound, plus the E 63 doesn't treat every bump in the road as an opportunity to assault its occupants' internal organs. In being more of an all-rounder, the Mercedes E 63 AMG Estate has its rivals well and truly lined up in its cross hairs and, we reckon, has them sunk as an overall package.

Alisdair Suttie - 16 Oct 2009









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2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate specifications:
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Combined economy: 22.1mpg
Emissions: 299g/km
Kerb weight: 1945kg

Full technical specifications

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.



2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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