£76,000 - £86,000 Price range
The Mercedes E63 AMG estate is the fastest version of the German firm’s biggest load lugger and, as bonkers estate cars tend to be quite niche, its only obvious rival is the equally unhinged Audi RS6 Avant.
Squeezed under the E63’s bonnet you’ll find what is, arguably, one of its biggest selling points – a 5.5-litre V8 that sounds fabulous. It may be smaller than the one fitted to the old model, but a pair turbochargers mean it offers more power, and performance to make most sports cars scuttle away in fear.
The way the E63 AMG estate drives is another of its strong points. It has selectable driving modes which give the car a Jekyll and Hyde character. It can be incredibly comfortable when needed before transforming into a snarling monster when an open road presents itself.
The interior is spacious for passengers and there’s a huge boot, but it looks dated and there are some low-quality materials to be found. Expect that to change when the new E-Class launches in 2016.
Equipment wise, the E63 AMG is hard to fault – nine airbags, sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity and electric heated leather seats are standard.
The interior is as solid and well-built as a Mercedes should be, but the design is getting on a bit now and follows the old car-maker assumption of ‘the more buttons the merrier’.
Mercedes E63 AMG Estate passenger space
Apart from the dated design of the dashboard the rest of the cabin is hard to fault. There is generous space in the rear for four six-footers to stretch their legs, but the middle rear seat gets limited foot room because of the transmission tunnel on the floor. The front seats are electrically adjustable in all directions and so is the steering wheel – a good driving position is almost guaranteed no matter your size.
Mercedes E63 AMG Estate boot space
Boot capacity is another of the E63’s trump cards. With the rear seats up you get 695 litres and if you fold them down a huge 1,950 litre space is at your disposal. No rivals can match the E63 estate here, with the RS6 offering between 565 and 1,680 litres, while the Porsche Panamera, which matches the E63’s performance, can barely fit a set of golf clubs. The E63’s electrically operated tailgate is another bonus.
Nobody expects a two-tonne estate to be as good on a twisty road as a sports car, but the E63 really surprises.
There’s very little lean in the corners and lots of grip. Central to its appeal is the electric power steering that, unlike some systems of its ilk, manages to be precise and communicative, allowing you to hustle the E63 through bends with consummate ease and a decent amount of confidence.
Stick the dampers in their softest setting and the E63 shows another side to its character, gliding over bumps and shielding occupants from poor road surfaces in a way that’s quite uncanny for a car that feels so at home on a race circuit.
Add to that excellent insulation from both wind and road noise, plus an engine that’s barely ticking over at the national limit, and the E63 has you covered whatever the situation you find yourself in.
After the 6.2-litre engine in the last model, the latest E63’s 5.5-litre V8 may look like a step back, but two turbochargers see to it that it is anything but.
It produces 557hp in the ‘normal’ E63 estate and 585hp in the S version. More impressive is the pulling power – 531lb ft of torque is available from just 1,750rpm. In the real world that means the Mercedes has superb overtaking ability and the power to see off a hot hatch (such as the Golf GTI) while barely breaking sweat.
A 0-62mph time of just 4.2 seconds serves only to confirm what’s already been said and the E63 will gleefully headbutt its 155mph speed limiter not long after that. In fact, opt for the Driver’s Pack and it’ll keep on going to 186mph. A lot can be said about the thundering noise it makes, too, but watching one of the videos below will give you a better idea as to why it’s quite so appealing.
The cost of all this is, of course, huge fuel consumption. Although Mercedes says combined fuel economy is 28.8mpg, in the real world it will be closer to 20mpg. Use the E63 AMG as intended and a single digit figure is quite possible. CO2 emissions of 232g/km see to it that your annual road tax bill is also on the hefty side at £490.
The regular E-Class estate is a premium executive car so it’s no surprise it’s packed with safety equipment – seven airbags, driver attention monitoring plus emergency automatic braking stand out from a sea of safety system acronyms – ABS, ESP, TCS and EBD, to name but a few.
To that lot the E63 adds more powerful brakes and a sorted chassis that means it can take fast corners more comfortably than the normal E-Class. Needless to say the E-Class estate scored the maximum five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP.
Saying that a £80,000 car is good value sounds a bit daft, but the E63 AMG estate is such a well-rounded talent, it’s hard to find something it won’t do. A decent level of standard equipment is another feather in its cap and comes with sat-nav, a Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo system and Nappa leather seats. As with many premium cars these days, a flutter on the options list can easily bump up the E63’s price into six figures.
Mercedes E63 AMG S Estate
If you think the E63 AMG is too soft or too slow, then have a look at the the S version. It increases turbo pressure to produce 585hp and cuts 0.1 seconds off the 0-62mph time. Further upgrades include a mechanical limited-slip differential which greatly improves corner exit speed and makes for easier powerslides, if that’s your thing.
On the outside, a more aggressive bodykit and 19-inch alloys distinguishes the exterior from the E63 AMG, while inside the S gets more carbon fibre trim and fantastic body-hugging sport seats
An estate with the ability to outrun a Porsche is as useless as winter flip-flops at a glance, but it’s the E63 estate’s breadth of abilities that wins you over. All testers recommend spending some time with the E63 to truly uncover how versatile and capable it is. In this niche area of the car market only the Audi RS6 Avant comes close with a more modern interior, but far less engaging drive. So for its sheer number of uses – the Mercedes E63 AMG estate is a great purchase for the performance car fan. It’s not a cheap one, however.