Mercedes AMG E63

V8-powered rocket ship with a classy interior

9.7
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 3 reviews
  • Very quick
  • Great interior
  • Sharp handling
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • A bit pointless
 

£77,582 - £87,364 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

29 MPG

Review

The Mercedes-AMG E63 is a mid-size saloon with a classy cabin and a monster of an engine. It rivals other ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ executive cars such as the BMW M5, Audi RS6 and Jaguar XFR – all of which are about to be replaced by new versions.

The regular E-Class looks a bit too classy to carry the AMG badge so this most expensive model gets vast air intakes, swollen wheel arches, menacing black trim and a couple of V8 badges to hint at the monster that lives under the bonnet.

While the outside is decidedly more sinister than the regular car, the cabin’s class and sophistication remains. The E63 takes that stylish design and adds a bunch of suitably sporty touches including a flat-bottomed steering wheel, new leather-trimmed sports seats and numerous AMG badges. The 64-colour ambient lighting is standard on the E63 alongside the large infotainment screen that replaces the traditional analogue dials.

Passenger space is excellent in the saloon and even better in the Estate thanks to its more upright roofline. Boot space in the saloon is above class average while the estate is among class leaders for capacity.

However, you don’t get an AMG model for its practicality, but for the masterpiece of an engine. The E-Class doesn’t disappoint – nestled under the bulging bonnet is a 4.0-litre V8 that can produce up to 604hp in the most-powerful E63 S model. Regular AMG models get a ‘mere’ 563hp – still nothing short of astonishing in a four-door saloon.

The E63 is four-wheel drive only, so 0-62mph acceleration times are predictably mind-blowing, completing the sprint in 3.5 seconds. It’s good at taking corners at speed too, making it arguably the most well-rounded AMG model yet. E63 S models also have the ability to disengage the front driven wheels for some good old-fashioned sideways tyre destruction.

One thing is certain – the E63 isn’t cheap. However, if you take into account the two infotainment screens, the plethora of autonomous driving systems, the well-made interior and combine them with the impressive pace, you have a well-equipped, practical saloon that can easily challenge a supercar for speed.

This new generation of E-Class really moves the game ahead in terms of interior design, style and quality. In the AMG model things are more driver focused and the materials change from homely soft leather and wood to sporty polished steel and carbon fibre. The well-designed dashboard does away with the old mantra ‘the more buttons, the merrier’ and, instead, focuses on a minimalistic look that lends it a luxury feel.

Mercedes-AMG E63 infotainment

The E63 is a tech-laden car with no fewer than two 12.3-inch displays on the dashboard – one for the infotainment system and the other replaces the speedo and rev counter. The displays are really high resolution resulting in easily readable graphics that can show you more information than any analogue alternative and the overall speed of operation is impressive.

The instrument binnacle itself is configurable in three modes – Classic, Sport and Eco – resulting in completely different readouts. For example, Sport features a g-force meter, while Eco mode replaces it with a meter measuring how efficiently you drive.

The central 12.3-inch screen houses the infotainment system which, while fully featured, isn’t as intuitive to use as rivalling Audi and BMW units. You control it through a rotary dial or by two touchpads on the steering wheel. They can seem tricky to use at first but quickly become indispensable for controlling your phone or the sat-nav without taking your hands off the wheel. You can also issue voice commands but, unless you’re alone in the car, the touchpads work faster.

Mercedes-AMG E63 passenger space

There are no space issues in the E-Class when carrying two passengers in the back – although three is asking a bit too much of the narrow middle seat. Those in front benefit from a wide range of adjustment meaning even tall drivers can easily get comfy.

The seats themselves are brilliant – the funky leather chairs are said to be sculpted around the human body and provide great support whether you want to relax or hurry up.

Mercedes-AMG E63 boot space

The 540-litre boot in the E63 saloon is adequate for the class and beats the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6’s 530-litre capacity. There’s also standard split-folding rear seats for increased practicality and a host of nets and tether points to secure your luggage from the forces generated by that monstrous engine.

The AMG E63 tips the scales at nearly two tonnes – a lot of weight to be pushed around at such ludicrous speeds. Fighting the laws of physics may be one of the hardest battles but, after a few minutes of fast driving, you begin to wonder whether it made some kind of sacrifice to the Pagan Gods to make it steer, stop and accelerate with such ferocity.

You might think it’s your excellent driving skills that keeps the Mercedes on the road, but it’s actually a barrage of electronics that works in the background to keep you going forward. The systems work so unobtrusively that you rarely notice their ‘steel-fist-in-a-velvet-glove’ interventions. It would be an insult to Mercedes’ engineers to call it stability or traction control because it monitors almost every part of the car – from the steering wheel angle to the position of the car via GPS. All this results in incredible pace, no matter the weather – helped by the now standard four-wheel-drive system.

This is the first time the E63 is available with 4MATIC in the UK – overseas the old model with four-wheel drive accounted for eight out of 10 sold. On the E63 S, there’s a driving mode called ‘Drift’ that decouples the front wheels entirely and unleashes all 603hp to the rear. At this point you better have not picked the white upholstery, because manhandling such a powerful saloon without any help from the electronics is both a real handful and bags of fun.

So it seems the E63 has achieved the impossible – combining unshakable traction when you need it with the tail-out shenanigans that AMG models are known for. Once you’re done hooning, simply press a button on the steering wheel and the Mercedes can pilot itself through traffic jams or down the motorway.

Gone are the days when the badge at the back of your AMG denoted the engine size –  despite saying ‘63’ on the back, the AMG E63 packs a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. You might know this engine from the AMG C63 and the AMG GT supercar, but produces more power than ever in the E-Class.

To reach its 563hp output, the engine has had a few tweaks compared to the C-Class. A high-tech intercooler and turbos mounted in the middle of the engine improve throttle response and deliver plentiful power.

If you think the 563hp E63 sounds bonkers, the 604hp E63 S model is like having a 50-inch TV in your bathroom – a bit over the top. That doesn’t mean it’s not a masterpiece of technology and brute force in harmony – even if the E63 S packs more power than your average GP2 race car, it’s an incredibly civilised machine if you’re just cruising around.

Obviously, running costs will be suitably expensive, reflecting the top-of-the-range standing of this AMG model but, for all the speed and near 2,000kg weight, it’s not that bad. The regular E-Class is good at getting close to its claimed figures and there’s no reason the E63 shouldn’t achieve simlar results. To help achieve a combined 31mpg and CO2 emissions of 199g/km, the engine works on only four out of its eight cylinders under light loads and the automatic gearbox can coast like a manual, thus saving fuel.

Conclusion

If you’ve read all the amazing figures, the mind-boggling acceleration and the genuinely capable handling you might wonder – ‘what’s the point of this exercise in excess?’.

Do you really need a four-door executive saloon with more than 600hp? Probably not – a E350d with 257hp and mountains of torque will be quicker than most real-world cars out on the road and, unless you have access to a race track, you’ll hardly ever get to use all the E63’s power on narrow and congested UK roads.

Nevertheless, it’s good that the E63 exists. It means there are still automotive engineers that are more concerned about making the best possible car from a technical standpoint, rather than one solely built for function. With the Mercedes-AMG E63’s dual personalities, you can truly have your cake and eat it – as long as you can afford it.