Those desirous of supercar performance with everyday practicality need look no further than the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. This car's ability to blend outrageous levels of power with traditional Mercedes comfort and a spacious interior is exceeded by few vehicles on the market.
The E63 AMG is also available in a versatile wagon bodystyle.
For the latest model year, Mercedes has fitted its executive rocketship with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive. This move that results in even more outrageous acceleration, improved foul-weather capabilities and a new "E63 AMG 4MATIC" moniker. Other revisions include an upgraded engine and fresh styling.
As with most sporting machines, the heart of the E63 AMG 4MATIC is its engine - a handmade 5.5-liter "Biturbo" V8. This twin-turbocharged and direct-injected monster was recently massaged to increase power from 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque to 550 ponies and 531 lb-ft of twist. Should potential customers feel that those numbers are inadequate, a more potent S-Model version of the sedan cranks up the boost from 13.0 to 14.5 psi to make 577 ponies and 590 lb-ft.
The benchmark zero-to-60 mph sprints takes just 3.6 seconds for the standard car, while the S-Model can do the deed in 3.5 seconds en route to an electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph.
All E63 AMGs utilize a seven-speed "MCT" automatic transmission that ditches a conventional torque converter for a wet clutch pack that makes shifts quick and smooth, even at low speeds (something that cannot be said of competitors' dual clutch automatics). It features rev-matched downshifts and an "eco mode" that engages the stop/start system, which switches off the engine at idle to save fuel.
The gearbox sends power to all four wheels via a performance-tuned version of Mercedes' 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The benefits of 4MATIC compared to the old rear-drive setup are numerous - it puts the sedan's massive power to the pavement more effectively, is four-season-friendly and, with a 33/67 front/rear output split under normal driving conditions, maintains enjoyable rear-drive-like dynamics.
A limited-slip rear diff - optional on the normal sedan and standard on the S-Model - further optimizes traction, while the stability control system of all E63 AMG 4MATICs can be set to provide rear brake-based torque vectoring to minimize understeer.
Helping to keep things under control when the road gets curvy is the AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension that features a specially designed front axle with a 1.9-inch increase in track width relative to the normal E-Class, in addition to independent wheel carriers for increased negative camber at the front to improve grip during performance driving.
Further features include steel suspension struts on the front axle and air suspension struts on the rear axle with an automatic level control system and an electronically controlled damping system, which automatically adjusts the damping characteristics depending on driving conditions and reduces body roll. The driver can switch between the three suspension modes of "Comfort," "Sport" and "Sport plus" at the touch of a button.
Should a red light or stop sign impede the driver's backroads fun, the E63 AMG 4MATIC is prepared for the occasion with six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes with 14.2-inch cross-drilled rotors all around. Carbon ceramic brakes with massive 15.8-inch rotors for maximum stopping power are optional.
One of the few weak spots on the car, at least for enthusiasts, is the steering. It's a power-assisted, electrohydraulic setup that offers a dearth of information concerning the activities of the front wheels, though it is accurate and isolated enough for miles of easy freeway cruising.
Looking the Part
Visually, the E63 AMG 4MATIC follows the form of its more pedestrian E-Class sedan brethren. Gone are the outgoing model's quad headlamps, replaced instead by a single lamp per side. A special AMG "A-wing" lower front fascia and a "twin-blade grille" mark the front end, and body kit provides further stylistic spice. At the rear, the treatment is finished by a black diffuser insert and an AMG dual exhaust setup.
The S-Model is distinguished by glossy black touches up front and a black "S" on the trunk lid.
Carbon fiber exterior goodies are optional, as is a new AMG Night Package with extra high gloss black trim bits on the car's exterior. For those seeking the ultimate visual touch, a carbon fiber engine cover is another extra-cost option.
Inside, the car sports a three-spoke leather/alcantara steering wheel with a flattened rim at both the top and bottom to allow improved driver control. Other AMG-specific touches include sports seats and a new IWC-designed analog clock.
Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system remains; controlled either by voice commands, a central knob or steering wheel-mounted buttons, it integrates the sedan's audio, navigation and Bluetooth-based connectivity functions into a single unit - a seven-inch display screen mounted on the dashboard.
An optional mbrace system adds a host of cloud-based goodies, including a concierge service, location-based traffic and weather updates, stolen vehicle location assistance, automatic collision notification and more. Available apps add internet browsing, Google local search with street view, Yelp reviews, Facebook access and news reports. Owners can even use an mbrance smartphone app to remotely lock, unlock or locate their sedan.
Mercedes-Benz has long been known for its safety features, and the E63 AMG 4MATIC will only add to that reputation. In addition to traction and stability control systems, the car boasts nine supplemental restraints including two-stage front air bags, a knee air bag for the driver and pelvic air bags which work together with full-length side curtain and front side air bags (rear side units are optional) to provide extra protection for front occupants in dangerous side-impact collisions.
Also standard is an "ATTENTION ASSIST" system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.
New for the latest model year is Collision Prevention Assist, which uses radar to determine whether the E63 AMG 4MATIC is in danger of colliding with a vehicle or object up ahead. Active at speeds above 20 mph, it automatically prepares the brakes to apply the ideal leveling of stopping power once the driver hits the pedal.
Optional safety gear includes Active Lane Keeping Assist, a new technology that warns the driver if it detects that the E63 AMG 4MATIC is drifting into an adjacent lane and can apply steering inputs to remain on the proper course. Also available is Active Blind Spot Assist, which uses radar to detect if a vehicle is in the blind-spot area. It provides driver alerts and can also steer the car out of harm's way if the driver accidentally starts to merge into a vehicle.
Pre-Safe Brake detects impending collisions and can automatically apply 100 percent of the E63 AMG 4MATIC' braking force to avoid or mitigate the severity of the crash. It also includes Cross-Traffic Assist, which can detect potential collisions with vehicles approaching from either side of an intersection. Both are part of the Distronic Plus with Steering assist system, an active cruise control setup that can maintain a set distance from the car ahead and also keep the vehicle centered on straight roads or in gentle curves.
Those shopping for a high-performance midsize sedan are in the delightful position of having several excellent options to choose from. Along with the E63 AMG 4MATIC, options include the legendary BMW M5, the rough-around-the-edges but extremely enjoyable Cadillac CTS-V and the overachieving Audi S6.