Thanks to its 571hp V8 the E63 is phenomenally quick in a straight line but its suspension has to work hard to keep its two-tonne body from leaning in corners
The high-performance E63 comes fitted with a 571hp 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine that powers all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. As a result, this comfortable and well-equipped saloon can leap from 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed limited to 155mph.
If you’re looking for outright speed in your new executive saloon, the BMW M5 is ever-so-slightly quicker – it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and comes with the option to remove its 155mph limiter. The upgraded 612hp E63 S model matches its BMW counterpart for pace, however, but will set you back an extra £9,130.
The E63 has nearly endless amounts of power for when you want to have fun and is super comfortable for when you don’t
Fuel economy probably isn’t your main concern if you’re considering buying an E63, but it may be reassuring to know it returns a claimed 31mpg – that’s around 5mpg more than the M5. In real world conditions (and if you can resist the temptation to floor it away from every set of traffic lights) you can expect it to manage approximately 20mpg.
All E63s come with adjustable air suspension as standard so they’re as comfortable as they are fast. Stick it in comfort mode and it’ll do an impressive job of softening the vibrations of rutted roads while in sport mode everything stiffens up and the big Mercedes drives like a smaller, sportier car. It’s not quite as poised as the Porsche Panamera but it’s still very controllable and more than fast enough to scare your passengers silly.
The standard nine-speed automatic gearbox does a good job of slushing gears together at slow speeds and it responds fairly quickly to the paddles mounted on the steering wheel if you want to choose when to change gear yourself. It’s not quite as neck-snappingly responsive as the Porsche Panamera’s eight-speed dual-clutch ‘box, however.
The E63’s V8 releases a deeper, more emotive burble than the Panamera Turbo’s 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 when you hit the accelerator but it settles down into a quiet cruise when the time comes to give your right foot a rest. You’ll hear just as little wind noise in the cabin as in the standard E-Class, but the E63’s bigger wheels and wider tyres produce a slightly louder roar at motorway speeds.
If letting rip on a race track is more your thing, the E63 comes with what Mercedes calls a drift mode. This feature turns the usually four-wheel-drive saloon into a rear-wheel-drive monster that’ll tear through rear tyres faster than it’ll burn fuel.
You’re more likely to spend most of your time on boring motorways so you’ll want to consider the optional £1,695 Driver Assistance Plus pack. It comes with a wide range of safety systems designed to keep you safe as you cruise along. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and the E63 can accelerate, brake and even adjust its speed to match changing speed limits all by itself. These features all helped the standard E-Class achieve an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2016 – expect the high-performance E63 models to perform equally well.