Mercedes E63 AMG Estate
Mercedes' all-new estate gets the AMG treatment including storming 518bhp 6.3-litre V8
With the exception of the less-involving Audi RS6 Avant, no other car can offer the E63 Estate’s blend of sledge hammer performance, refinement and practicality. Thanks to huge adjustability in the gearbox, suspension and ESP settings you can be crushing motorway miles in utter comfort one minute and taming a race track the next - and all with enough space for the family and all their gear.
It’s the family wagon that thinks it’s a supercar! We’ve already driven and been thoroughly impressed by the E63 AMG Saloon and the E220 CDI Estate in issues 1,071 and 1,086 respectively, but what happens when massive practicality meets maximum performance?
Beneath the innocuous exterior lurks a 518bhp 6.3-litre naturally-aspirated V8, the same sensational engine that’s found in the saloon. Maximum torque of 630Nm is delivered all the way from 3,500rpm to 5,200rpm, which means this car is just as adept at playing the relaxed cruiser as it is at painting two black lines on the tarmac.
Straight line-pace is epic, as is the thunderous soundtrack from the four tailpipes, but this car is more than simply a drag racer - there’s a finesse to the way it goes about its business. A newly-developed sports suspension setup features air suspension at the rear and steel springs at the front - which loads the steering with more feel than the standard car.
Aspiring racing drivers will enjoy the enormous scope for tailoring the estate’s behaviour. Via a series of knobs on the centre console the suspension can be altered between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes. The seven-speed auto box has four settings - Controlled Efficiency, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual. And finally a three-stage ESP system allows you to choose the size of the electronic safety net.
A wider front-track, subtle badging on the front wings and unique alloys, as well as a tasteful bodykit and those tuneful exhaust pipes are the only giveaways to this car’s potential. But that’s where the big Merc scores so highly, by playing down its supercar-crushing abilities so well.
Inside the AMG-badged sports seats grip you hard in the corners, but other than that it feels like any other well-specced E-Class estate, which is no bad thing. It also means there’s 1,950-litres of loading space with the rear seats down. That’s more than the model it replaces and more than any of its key rivals.
Rival: Audi RS6 Avant Strap two turbos to a Lamborghini-derived V10, drop it into a family estate and you're left with a car that can shame almost anything in a drag race, but carry the family in comfort, too. With 572bhp the RS6 blows the competition away on paper, but in reality the BMW M5 Touring and E63 AMG Estate are far more involving to drive.