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Mercedes E63 is AMG’s most changed model to date

All paw: Mercedes’ new 4Matic all-wheel-drive system opened up new opportunities in development of the AMG E63 S.

4Matic AWD system ushered in a ‘sky’s the limit’ mentality with Mercedes-AMG E63 S

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Mercedes-AMG logo4 Dec 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

MERCEDES-AMG has revealed its latest E63 has made the biggest change yet over a preceding version, thanks mainly to the latest E-Class donor model’s adoption of a new all-wheel drive-ready architecture and the subsequent opportunities that opened up.

Two years in development at the in-house AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany, the 300km/h high-performance sports sedan answer to the BMW M5 and Audi RS6 introduces extensively altered sheet-metal for the first time, on top of usual AMG powertrain upgrades that have defined previous E63s.

The development of a new nose cone to the base of the windscreen, which brings a completely redesigned bonnet, front mudguards, headlights, grille and bumpers front and rear compared to a stock E-Class was necessary to accommodate the wider tracks and higher-level cooling needs of the more powerful engine application that switching to AWD allowed.

That is on top of the sleeker and more coupe-like appearance the changes bring to the E63 4Matic, particularly when seen from front-on.

According to Mercedes-AMG chairman Tobias Moers, the introduction of AWD was his team’s chance to produce something different and better than the competition, so his team jumped at it.

“The new E63 models represent the biggest step forward we've ever taken from one generation to the next,” he said. “At the start of the development process, we opted for a fully variable all-wheel-drive system… (reaffirming) our brand's ‘Driving Performance’ claim.”

Based on the all-aluminium unit found in the AMG GT coupe series, the all-new 450kW/850Nm 4.0-litre biturbo V8 can hit 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds (compared to 4.1s in the last of the old-model E63 S rear-drivers with a 5.5-litre V8 biturbo), on the way to a 300km/h official top speed in its most ultimate tune (versus 280km/h). Also new is a nine-speed MCT multi-clutch automatic transmission, uniquely developed air suspension tune, high-performance brake packages and all-wheel-drive hardware.

As well as extensive testing on the Nurburgring race circuit in Germany, the E63 team took their cars to Death Valley in Arizona for hot-weather validation, as well as in Scandinavia for cold-weather assessment.

Mercedes-AMG development overall vehicle manager Jens Hueser said that providing big luxury sedan levels of refinement and comfort, and sportscar performance with all the safety systems off became the biggest challenge in developing the latest E-Class halo car.

“The broad spread of abilities was the biggest technical challenge,” he said.

“We had to have the E63 ready for the challenge of taking on the Nurburgring one day, as well as taking your family to the opera that evening in comfort,” he said.

“Making customers excited about our cars on a new level is the most important thing.”

Mr Hueser admitted that the spectre of an all-new BMW M5 (next year) and Audi RS6 (due in 2018) pushed his engineers on to make the E63 as good as it could possibly be, particularly as GoAuto has reported that the M5 will also switch to AWD.

“I am not afraid to say that the competition is really good for us because it keeps us working as hard as we can to be the best,” he said.

“I have to try and predict where our rivals will go with their next-generation vehicles, and so I have to put that in the development specifications of what we are working on.”

Finally, the decision to use the 4.0-litre biturbo V8 means there is probably no chance of a lighter rear-drive E63 for this generation, especially as the performance, traction, and safety gains AWD brings far outweighs any weight saving that would be gleaned.

“It’s only a matter of 70kg or so, and I think our customers would prefer to have the ultimate in performance and grip,” a Mercedes-AMG spokesperson said.

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