Mercedes E63 AMG review
Punchy and impressively efficient V8 engine helps Mercedes E63 AMG keep up with the latest BMW M5
The Mercedes E63 AMG is the flagship of the recently revamped E-Class range, and is the most powerful four-door saloon money can buy. It combines punchy performance from its 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 engine with decent efficiency, to rival the Jaguar XFR and Audi RS6. The restrained design inside and out is beginning to show its age, but it will still appeal to drivers who prefer not to stand out, while the impressive level of luxury and technology on offer makes the very expensive price tag a bit easier to justify.
Positioned just above the standard 550bhp E63 AMG, the 577bhp S version is aimed at the driver who wants the ultimate in performance, and is prepared to pay a £10,000 premium for the privilege. Like the standard car, it also comes as a practical estate, with a four-wheel-drive version as special order – although that’s hobbled by a left-hand-drive layout and a price tag which won’t leave much change from £100,000.
Our choice: Mercedes E63 AMG
Where the Jaguar XFR-S delights with its organic curves and rippling muscles, the E63 distracts the eye with complex detailing and aggressive aero features. As well as the styling changes recently introduced to the rest of the E-Class range, this car adds a bold, F1-style front bumper insert finished in black, along with 10-spoke, 19-inch alloy wheels. Other eye-catching details include the all-LED headlights. These brilliantly bright lamps feature distinctive daytime running lights, plus benefit from a cornering function and automatic high beam control.
Inside, the E63 feels focused and motorsport-inspired, with a lovely Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel and a special stubby automatic shift lever. The AMG also features four additional switches and a dial located on the right of the centre console. These control the car’s gearbox shift modes, along with damper and stability control settings, and help give the cabin a sense of occasion. Plus, as you’d expect, the quality inside is first rate. Top-notch materials are used throughout, the finish is excellent and the switchgear operates precisely.
With over 500bhp on offer, the E63 AMG delivers savage performance that makes many supercars look lead-footed. The controls are heavily weighted and feel solid, with everything from the thick metal steering wheel shift paddles to the chunky throttle pedal needing purposeful inputs to move. Mercedes’ adoption of twin-turbo technology has resulted in an engine that delivers lag-free performance and lightning reactions. Keep the revs above 2,000rpm and you can ride a colossal surge of pulling power that fires the E63 towards the next corner at incredible speed.
Yet the AMG never feels overwhelmed in corners. Rock-solid body control, strong grip and well weighted steering inspire confidence and allow you to throw the Mercedes around with surprising abandon. And while the traction control works overtime to rein in wheelspin in wet conditions, in the dry the E63 feels calm and composed. Of course, if you switch off the stability control, it can easily be coaxed into lurid, smoking tailslides.
It wasn’t that long ago that a car producing nearly 600bhp would need a rebuild on a weekly basis. Thankfully, even though this Mercedes has almost twice the power of a WRC rally car, it only requires a check once a year. Other AMG models enjoy a fabulous reputation for longevity and fault-free running, so we expect more of the same from this latest offering. Better still, Mercedes was voted fifth best manufacturer in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, while the pre-facelift E-Class was among the top 10 cars. Owners raved about its reliability and quality, and heaped praise on its comfort and ease of driving.
Another part of the appeal is the Mercedes’ strong safety record. It achieved a five-star Euro NCAP score, and has seven airbags, stability control and active head restraints. The AMG S also benefits from uprated brakes and a limited-slip differential for improved traction. Plus, you can add plenty of hi-tech extras, including the £2,300 Driver Assistance Pack that brings adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist.
The E-Class has always been a large, practical car, and the E63 is no different. Its 540-litre boot equals the Jaguar XFR-S’s, although you’ll need an extra £415 for split-fold functionality. The E63 also loses points for the clumsy-looking speaker that sits on the ceiling of the boot – part of the optional sound system. This is prone to getting whacked by luggage, and reduces the load bay’s height. If you need more space, there’s always the estate version. This model boasts a cavernous 695-litre boot, which increases to a vast 1,950 litres with the rear bench folded flat.
You don’t need a degree in economics to realise that the Mercedes E63 AMG will cost you a lot of money to run. We managed just 16.5mpg during our week with the car, despite having the drivetrain in fuel-saving ECO mode when cruising on the motorway. Yet servicing costs are more manageable. Opt for the Mercedes service plan and you’re looking at £540 per year – reasonable when compared to supercars with similar pace.The E-Class also has decent residual values on its side, with our experts predicting it’ll hold on to 42.1 per cent of its value after three years, which is enough for the E63 to offset its higher asking price. And while there’s an extensive list of expensive options, the car comes with more than enough gadgets and gizmos as standard, such as sat-nav, Nappa leather seat trim and a surround sound Harman Kardon stereo system.