Mercedes E63 AMG

Can AMG’s tuning expertise propel firebreathing E-Class to the top of the class?

The experts at AMG know a thing or two about power and performance. And Mercedes bosses believe that the new E-Class flagship can challenge for top honours – but does it?

Well, it doesn’t get off to the best of starts, because we think the E63 AMG is somewhat disappointing to look at. As with the Jaguar, it is very similar in design to lesser models, but the standard XF is easily more stylish than its Mercedes equivalent.

Flared wheelarches and square exhaust pipes do little to hide the latest E-Class’s slab-sided shape, and our test car was particularly uninspiring in its dark paintwork. Lighter shades show off the muscular bodywork much better.

However, if you want your supersaloon to exude stealthy aggression, the E63 AMG is arguably the best choice – so it’s all down to personal preference. It certainly looks more classy than the brash Cadillac, but we’d like a few more high-performance cues for our money.

Open the Mercedes’ door and the first thing you’ll notice is the amount of space on offer, especially when compared to the cosy cabins of its rivals. However, the angular dashboard design is dull and some of the plastics feel out of place in a car costing £70,000. These are complaints levelled against lesser E-Class models as well, but fortunately the AMG version is lifted by some unique additions.

For instance, the large steering wheel features a sporty flat-bottomed design, along with tactile faux suede detailing. The comfortable leather seats and classy wheel-mounted shift paddles – which are great to use – also let you know that this is no ordinary saloon.

There are other changes from standard, too. The small gear selector on the transmission tunnel may look undersized, but it creates room for a new polished metal panel which houses a bank of controls for the ESP, gearbox and suspension settings. First, though, you have to fire up the car – and this is when things really get exciting. The V8 barks into life and the accompanying exhaust rumble is both louder and more aggressive than that of either rival here.

It sounds even better on the move, and there’s even a hint of the performance on offer when simply crawling through congested urban streets – something that’s missing from the Jaguar in particular. There is a price to pay, though, as passengers may find the noise intrusive when cruising.

Accelerate hard and the Mercedes piles on speed with enthusiasm to match the soundtrack. And while the intuitive transmission perfectly blends shifts in Comfort mode, when you select either of the two Sport modes, or use the manual paddles, the gearchanges are both sharp and quick. In the last of these settings, the centre of the speedo glows red as a change-up warning light, too.

This gives the impression that the E63 AMG is quicker than its competitors, but in reality there’s very little between them. The Mercedes is savagely fast in a straight line, though, and it’s just as impressive in corners.

Sharp steering, reassuringly powerful brakes and stiff suspension mean that of the cars here, it feels the most at home on-track. The trade-off for this composure is a firm ride on the road, even in the Comfort setting.

Costing nearly £10,000 over either of its rivals, the E63 seems expensive – especially when you consider that it is no more powerful or better equipped. In addition, our experts predict that the Mercedes will suffer from particularly poor residuals.

And while the German machine isn’t as bad as the Cadillac when it comes to CO2 emissions, with an official output of 295g/km it is more polluting than the Jaguar. Of course, you don’t buy one of these supersaloons to save the planet, but fuel economy will naturally be of interest to potential purchasers – and the AMG returned a disappointing 16.9mpg in our hands, some way behind the Jag. Cost and efficiency are important elements in any decision, but when it comes to picking the best car here, we’re looking for the model with the greatest breadth of abilities. The stunningly fast new E63 ticks most of the boxes – but does it do enough to take the win?

Details

WHY: Germans have always produced great performance saloons – and the experts at AMG are past masters.

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