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

First drive: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate
Mercedes-Benz ups the power, and the ante, with its latest E 63 AMG flagship.

   



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| First Drive | Barcelona, Spain | Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Thanks to sharpened looks and increased performance (with the option for even more) the Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG is right back at the top of the game. In estate form it mixes that magic balance of bonkers ability, workhorse capacity and just enough sleeper subtlety to rise above its opposition.

Key Facts

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG Estate
Pricing: 75,510
Engine: 5.5-litre, turbocharged eight-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
Rivals: Audi RS 6, BMW M5, Jaguar XFR Shooting Brake
CO2 emissions: 234g/km
Economy: 28.3mpg
Top speed: 155mph (electronically limited)
0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
Power: 557hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 720Nm at 1,750- to 5,250rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

With the E-Class the wagon has always looked sharper than the saloon, and that's something emphasised by the AMG model. As with all fast estates, something of an on-trend statement these days, the juxtaposition of a car capable of worrying supercars while carrying 1,950 litres of luggage is full of appeal. The latest changes to the E-Class have improved this even further, the new LED headlamps adding some extra aggression to its face while the 19-inch alloys, quad exhausts and optional matt paint finish round the look off perfectly.

Alas the interior hasn't been quite so lucky in the shake-up, and it stays much the same as before. And that's a shame, as it all looks rather standard - save for the discreet AMG badging it would be easy to mistake this flagship's cabin for a E 220 CDI's. Regardless, there's plenty of space, no matter what seat you're sitting in, and with the last row in place the boot will still hold 695 litres of luggage.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Thankfully there's more of a fanfare when the E 63 AMG is started up, the quad exhausts erupting gloriously with the sound of that bi-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine. The fact our day starts from within an underground garage simply amplifies the aural experience. All E 63 AMGs are automatic only, using the seven-speed Speedshift MCT transmission that offers a choice of Controlled Efficiency, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual modes - the latter manipulated via the steering wheel mounted paddles. Left to its own devices, and with a light right foot, the AMG E 63 is as docile around the congested morning Barcelona streets as we could have hoped it to be.

As the bright lights disappear it's clear this car has plenty of reserves; opening the throttle fully revealing the full potential of its performance. The four-wheel drive S model (not coming to the UK),will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 3.7 seconds, but this car takes a further 0.6 seconds. Not exactly shabby, and enough to keep a Lamborghini Gallardo honest. It gets even better as the revs rise towards the 6,500rpm limit, the low down rumble from the exhaust replaced with an angry growl loud enough to wake any sleeping Labradors above.

Breaking into the mountains surrounding the Spanish city the temperature drops and the flicker of the traction control light grows ever more present, the rear of the car moving around even with the safety systems fully engaged. Switch to Sport mode and even great angles can be explored before the car's brain brings it all back safely under control - for those with drifting desire but sans skills it's a perfect compromise. There's little roll when attacking even the tightest of bends, improved further by the adaptive damping, but the movement across that rear axle means the E 63 AMG can never fully hide its considerable weight.

The steering remains light, and sharp, across the full distance of the rack but never offers the full amount of feedback a keen driver might like. On our tight and twisting route, with plenty of speed needing scrubbed off quickly, the optional Carbon Ceramic brakes could come in useful, but in most 'normal' situations the standard items perform fine.

We'd still rather have the 4Matic version, the system allowing 67 per cent of the power to go to the rear axle, as it allows you to take advantage of this car's power for longer and for more of the time. The extra confidence it inspires within allows you take greater liberties, and even with Sport handling engaged the E 63 AMG never misbehaves. Packaging reasons means that it won't even be offered as an option in the UK, though dealers will happily place a special order for a left-hand drive model if you so wish.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

If you're even considering the E 63 AMG it's not likely that money is much of a concern; in estate guise you'll need over 75,000 for the pleasure, but then when the BMW M5 is only available as a saloon it could be worth the cash. Same goes for the sub-30mpg official economy figure, and real world numbers much closer to the wrong side of 20mpg.

At least all models come loaded with equipment, such as Nappa leather seats, an AMG performance steering wheel, active park assist, LED headlamps and a range of innovative technical features borrowed from the forth-coming S-Class. These include a new 360-degree camera, Traffic Sign Assist that detects no overtaking zones and access restrictions as well as Adaptive Highbeam Assist that bends light around cars coming towards you or in front so as not to dazzle them while maintaining full illumination of the road.

Worth Noting

Power junkies can satisfy their cravings thanks to Mercedes' new 'S' model, which adds another 28hp and 80Nm to proceedings, lowering the 0-62mph time to 3.7 seconds. In Europe it will only come with the firm's 4Matic four-wheel drive system, but that's not coming to the UK at all, so we'll get a unique rear-wheel drive S, which should be an even more exciting proposition.

Summary

So close, but no cigar for the new UK-bound Mercedes E 63 AMG; be in no doubt that this is a superbly talented, explosive package that has performance aplenty, but it just missed out on the full five stars. The estate bodywork brings it close, but when the rest of the continent is getting the excellent 4Matic models, we can't help but feel hard done by. Making that monstrous power more accessible makes it far quicker in the real world, and it's this car that deserves the extra star.


Graeme Lambert - 16 Feb 2013



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2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.



2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S Estate. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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