Future Models - Mercedes-AMG 2017 E63
First drive: Mercedes-AMG E63 S blasts off
Coming soon: The latest Mercedes-EMG E63 S 4Matic should arrive in Australia about May next year.
Mercedes-AMG’s brutally fast E63 S 4Matic gatecrashes the supercar scene
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30 November 2016
MERCEDES-AMG will start rolling out its fastest-ever E-Class-based super sedan
from early in the second quarter of next year globally, with Australia one of
the first markets in line to be offered the all-new E63.
Initially available only in top-spec E63 S 4Matic sedan guise, the Affalterbach
firm’s answer to the BMW M5 and Audi RS6 Quattro has been engineered to not
only eclipse its compatriot competition from Munich and Ingolstadt
respectively, but also show up more rarefied opponents from the next class up
and beyond, such as the Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte and Bentley
“The target was to make the perfect car at every level, and by that I mean in
every way,” according to Mercedes-AMG development overall vehicle manager Jens
Hueser. “And I believe we succeeded.”
The most intensively modified Mercedes that AMG have ever tweaked, the catalyst
to elevating the long-lived E63 series into the supercar sphere was the
adaptation of the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
Previously only available in left-hand-drive formats, the all-paw configuration
was future-proofed from the beginning in the MRA modular rear-drive
architecture that underpins all Benz passenger vehicles from the W205 C-Class
As a result, Australians simply didn’t know what they were missing.
It requires a bit of a keen eye, but the stylistic differences compared to the
regular W213 E-Class sedan are effective.
Everything forward of the windscreen base has been changed, or pumped up, with
wider guards to accommodate the fatter tracks, a more sculptured clamshell
bonnet, massive lower air-intakes and a coupe-like grille with big
Out back it’s even more discreet, save for the boot-lip spoiler and de rigueur
bumper-mounted diffusers and twin tailpipes, which make quite the noise.
We drove several examples in pre-production German-spec trim levels in southern
Portugal, and while the low-key muscular aggression translates inside with
racing-style sports seats, Alcantara-swathed flat-bottomed steering wheel and
Nappa leather-clad material applied liberally everywhere, some of the lighter
carbon-fibre-style trim appliques left a bit to be desired.
However, this is nitpicking, because as with all modern E-Classes, the vast
triple-screen multimedia dashboard, multi-configurable ambient lighting and
overall packaging is at the apex of the premium large car class. The E63 S
4Matic simply adds an athletic edge to all that.
Pushing the chintzy looking engine start button is a transformative thing
because of the way the exhaust note infuses your senses. You cannot see the
450kW/850Nm 4.0-litre biturbo V8, but you can feel it stir as it idles
impatiently. It’s as if you’ve just realised a waking bear is in the same room
as you are.
Performance wise, the 0-100km/h sprint time is in 3.4 seconds, top speed is
limited to 250km/h unless you throw a wad of cash for the AMG Driver’s Package,
in which case it’s 300km/h, although the rumour is that 320km/h-plus is
All four wheels are driven permanently and variously, depending on conditions,
via a nine-speed multi-clutch transmission (like a dual clutch, but with six of
them), and all contained with multi-configurable driving modes depending on
whether you want to just potter around (Comfort), get around with some attitude
(Sport), show everybody’s who’s boss (Sport Plus), or defy the laws of physics
on your favourite track (Race).
What Mercedes-AMG sought to achieve – and have succeeded brilliantly at – is
creating what might be a sports sedan that can do luxury comfort like an
automotive Clark Kent, but then turn superhero supercar crime-fighter, thanks
to all newly-acquired superpowers. Actually, the Superman analogy is probably
less apt than the Iron Man one, since it’s all come through technology.
In the past, AMG sports sedans were a lot like bulls in a china shop because
their supercharged V8 and V12s could hardly be contained by their rear wheels.
Now, with 4Matic, the boffins can – and have – turned up the wick to 11,
knowing that electronics, trick diffs, and AWD can meter out the madness in
measured, maniacal manner. So G-force-actuating acceleration that feels like
space and time can be manipulated by your right foot is possible (Sport Plus),
with none of the tail-out snap-oversteer hysteria of old.
Unless you kill the ESC, select Race mode, prod the manual-mode button, and
pull the paddle shifters towards you. Then it’s 2004 all over again and
Michelin and Pirelli will be kept in business as you burn all that rubber.
So supercar performance is expected and delivered, but it’s what you might not
have seen coming that might make you fall completely in love with the E63 S
4Matic – like the suspension’s ability to soak up bumps instead of pummel your
posterior (that’s in Comfort and Sport – thanks air springs, another AMG-tech
supercar enabler); or the way the car can shrink around you in the single-lane
villages as you barrel your way up goat tracks in Sport Plus, marvelling at the
sheer nimbleness of what actually is a five-metre sedan.
But it was at the Autodromo International Racetrack in Algarve, Portugal, that
the E63 S 4Matic’s supernatural abilities came to light.
Tight, curvy, undulating, with blind corners and weird cambers to scare even
seasoned test drivers, the Mercedes-AMG’s speed and controllability through
this circuit seemed otherworldly for a 1.9-tonne executive sedan, blasting
through like a supercar with far less weight and a much lower centre of
In Sport Plus mode it held on like it was mesmerised by the track; in Race mode
with competition-tune ESC, the chassis gelled to deliver epic controlled
slides, Starship Warp-9 levels of thrust, and pin-sharp cornering capabilities.
We were too chicken to turn all of the safeties off, but there is some of that
hairy chested fire-breathing old-school AMG brute just under the surface and
aching to be let out if you’re brave enough. Especially if that exhaust is
allowed to bellow its thunderous raw.
As we said, a transformative experience.
Later on, driving on normal roads, some of the E63 S 4Matic’s flaws started to
come through – some very obvious tyre roar on certain types of bitumen; a bit
more body control in Comfort would be desirable, as the car seems to move a tad
too much on its suspension in this mode (though really only obvious after a
stint in Sport/Sport Plus); the AEB autonomous emergency braking seemed a
little over-eager to engage in tight corners with cars parked safety to the
side (better to be safe than sorry though), and the sat-nav on two of our test
cars went on the fritz.
But these are minor foibles in what is a truly incredible achievement from
Mercedes-AMG. The E63 S 4Matic can be as docile as an E250, more muscular than
an M5, just as athletic as a 911, and more rousing than a Bentley Continental
Come next May (ish), at about $250,000 (plus on-roads) a pop, a new performance
sedan yardstick will have been established.
Considering how talented it is, we reckon Mercedes will have a massive hit on
its hands. Right now, there is nothing in the world quite like it. BMW and
Audi, the massive wrecking ball is in your court.