The fastest E-Class goes on sale this spring – but this new generation of AMG super-saloons is much better on both road and track than those which went before
You could write a whole article’s worth of bunny about the new Merc-AMG E 63 before even getting down to what it’s like. Instead, we’ll settle for one sentence.
Very mental 603bhp V8 Merc saloon.
Want a bit more flesh on the bones? Okay, very mental but very clever 603bhp, 627lb/ft V8 Merc saloon with four-wheel drive. And Drift mode.
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4matic
On sale: March
Price: £83,000 (est)
Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbo, petrol
Gearbox: Nine-speed automatic
Top speed: 186mph
Economy: 31.0mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 207g/km
The saloon in question is an E-Class, which is an excellent thing to be. And it can smash the 0-62 sprint in 3.5 seconds – or, if you wish, give you smoky burnouts ’til the smell of rubber makes you barf. That’s Drift mode for you – all this does is disconnect the front prop and turn the E 63 into a full rear-wheel driver, whereupon a sticky rear diff ensures your inner child will remain in raptures for as long as your back tyre budget holds out.
All the other drive modes could be seen as variations on the theme of Don’t-Be-So-Silly. Some are tuned for the track – where the E 63 handles and in particular steers with a sharpness and agility that makes a mockery of its two-tonne bulk and front-mounted engine – while others keep it fast but tolerable on the road.
The engine has an instancy of response that’s remarkable for a big turbo, and of course it has stacks and stacks of power and grunt. Here too, it steers with real sweetness, and its suspension delivers constant clear messages about the surface below. That all-wheel-drive transmission keeps it pinned down, too – you’d have to push absurdly hard to make it break away.
This doesn’t come at the expense of proper high-performance balance, either. The system is set up for an appropriate degree of rear bias, so although it achieves plenty of grip this doesn’t come at the cost of gung-ho entertainment in corners.
And of course, none of this comes at the cost of a properly classy, spacious cabin with the usual blend of build quality, brilliant media and eyeball-pleasing design. The E 63 is tested here in saloon form, but it’ll be available as an estate too; prices are yet to be announced ahead of its launch in March next year, but expect them to start somewhere in the mid-£80k range and finish somewhere over the rainbow.
Talking of rainbows, specifically of the warrior variety, 31mpg is not too bad from a 603bhp super-saloon. You’ll get nowhere near that when using the V8’s power, but when you’re not it turns into a four-pot and the auto box gets up into overdrive as early as possible to keep a lid on the revs.
So this is an E-Class that asks you to forfeit very little when using it as an everyday car. When you want to use it as a weapon, though, what a weapon it is.