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First Drive: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Performance Pack. Image by Charlie Magee.

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Performance Pack
AMG adds its Performance Pack to the E 63 and lets us loose on the track.

 



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| First Drive | Top Gear Test Track, England | Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Performance Pack |

We've driven the E 63 AMG already, but the opportunity to try it on track and with the optional Performance Pack saw us getting behind the wheel of AMG's newest saloon very quickly indeed.

In the Metal

In line with its rivals the E 63 is a relatively subtle sporting makeover. The flared arches are necessary for the wider track, while the deeper front and rear bumpers help with airflow around the car, into the engine bay and around the brakes. It looks great, AMG's reworking of the already striking E-Class and giving it a dignified muscularity, the only visible Performance Pack extra being a boot-mounted spoiler.

What you get for your Money

The E 63 should include everything you'd expect from a sporting saloon, but the key option here is the addition of the Performance Pack. It adds stiffer suspension, a limited-slip rear differential and, bizarrely, an electric rear blind. The Performance Pack costs 2,495. If you're getting that you might as well go the distance and tick the box for the driver's pack too, which raises the electronic limiter from 155mph to 186mph and gives you the opportunity to attend one of AMG's 'Power and Passion' driving days.

Driving it

On the road it's unlikely you'll immediately notice the difference the AMG Performance Pack makes to the E 63. It feels just as stupidly fast as the standard car - with 62mph possible from standstill in just 4.5 seconds. That's quicker than its obvious rivals from BMW and Jaguar and the same time as Audi quotes for the RS6. AMG has come a long way in recent years; there's some finesse to the way its cars now drive; they're more than all engine - the 6.2-litre V8's prodigious 518bhp and 465lb.ft of torque are really exploitable given the surprising poise and control on offer from the E 63's chassis.

It's still pretty easy to light up those rear tyres, but keep the ESP setting on its most nannying and it's pretty well behaved, with the promise of some unruliness when you take over more of the control yourself.

The tighter diff on the Performance Pack equipped cars makes its presence felt only occasionally on the road, though on track it allows the E 63 driver to spend the majority of the time viewing their direction of travel through the side window. It's all very easy to exploit, the numerous suspension, ESP and gearbox shift settings allowing you to tailor the E 63 to suit your mood.

The seven-speed auto shifts quickly and cleanly and the steering is nicely weighted and crisp in its response. It's a friendlier, easier car to drive than BMW's M5 and it's more delicate than the Audi RS6. Only the Jaguar XFR matches the E 63's blend of silly pace with fine control. On the road it's the Jaguar that is the more composed, its suspension coping better with British roads than the German car's stiffer, less compliant set-up.

Worth Noting

The E 63 isn't cheap, with its 69,850 list price comfortably more than both BMW's M5 and the Jaguar XFR. Include the Performance and Driving Packs and you'll be adding a further 6,000 or so to that. Running costs won't be cheap; even though Mercedes quotes an official combined consumption figure of 22.4mpg - and 295g/km of CO2 - you'll struggle to ever return economy figures higher than the late teens - less if you really enjoy its pace.

Summary

Merc's E 63 is not the pinnacle of performance saloons in the AMG range - that honour is left for the S 63 and S 65 models - but perhaps the most rounded. The E 63 has all the civility of its lesser E-Class siblings allied to the ability to shock with its performance. AMG's 6.2-litre engine is an absolute peach and it has found a good home in the E-Class chassis. We'd have to have a de-badged wagon though, for the ultimate in stealth pace.

Kyle Fortune - 26 Nov 2009









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2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG specifications: (saloon)
Price: 69,850 on-the-road. Performance Pack costs 2,495 extra.
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Combined economy: 22.4mpg
Emissions: 295g/km
Kerb weight: 1840kg

Full technical specifications

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.



2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 

2009 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Image by Charlie Magee.
 






 

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