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New models - Mercedes-Benz - E-class - E63 AMG S

Driven: Mercedes E63 S joins the AMG lineup

Unique beast: Australian versions of the new Benz E63 AMG S will be the first in the world with rear-drive, rather than AWD.

World-first rear-drive E63 S will further boost Australian sales of Mercedes AMG

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Mercedes-Benz logo13 Sep 2013

THE king of Mercedes’ E-Class range is here, with customers beginning to take delivery of the $249,900 plus on-road costs E63 AMG ‘S’ in a world-first, tyre-shredding two-wheel drive layout.

Benz’s facelifted uber-sedan replaces the previous ‘regular’ 386kW E63 AMG and 410kW ‘Performance Package’ versions in one fell swoop, maxing out at 430kW and 800Nm from its 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8.

Furthermore, the item you see here comes with a pretty substantial local twist: while it is only available in the rest of the world with Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, Mercedes instead created a special rear-drive version especially for the Australian market - and other nations will follow suit.

Befitting AMG’s world-leading proportional sales here, Mercedes-Benz Australia corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis is confident that the E63 AMG S will account for up to 7 per cent of E-Class sales, with customers taking advantage of the better-value ‘S’ package.

“In about 80 per cent of our orders, people wanted the performance pack (on the pre-facelift version).

“If you were to spec up a previous generation E63 with the kit that this has you would be up to about $270,000.

“We spoke to AMG and said we want the 430kW rear-wheel drive. We were the first market to do it, then South Africa followed and now the UK will take it as well,” he said.

With the help of the hyper-hatch A45 AMG and the forthcoming facelifted C63 AMG, Mercedes predicts that AMG sales will smash the previous year’s sales total.

“Last year we did about 1200 and we’ll beat that this year without a doubt,” said Mr Stamoulis.

The previous generation E63 AMG broke the normally aspirated mould going from a 6.3-litre V8 to the current 5.5 V8 turbo and, while the power figure remains similar, the new generation engine boosts torque by 100Nm.

With 430kW, the ‘biturbo’ Benz can go head to head with the other German super-sedans - BMW’s M5 and Audi’s RS6 - which have similar power outputs, but with its superior 800Nm the E63 AMG S will stand its ground as a big hitter.

Dragging a zero to 100kmh time of just 4.1 seconds the mighty Merc sits neatly between the BMW’s time of 4.2 seconds and the Audi’s sub-four second dash, and will go on to an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.

A seven-speed ‘Speedshift’ automatic transmission with four shift settings deals with the sizable torque while three suspension settings and three-stage traction control all help get the power through just two 19-inch wheels.

The E63 AMG S has everything from the E-Class options list as standard but, as with every AMG vehicle, discerning customers can customize their particular car with almost anything they can imagine.

“With AMG at this end of the market there is no limit. You can do whatever you want if you are willing to pay and wait,” said Mr Stamoulis.

For example, customers wanting to spend some track-time in the E63 AMG S may want to invest in the carbon/ceramic brake kit for the cost of a base Mazda CX-5 ($28,000).

As with any top-line Mercedes, the driver assistance equipment level is comprehensive, including satellite navigation, front and rear parking radars, reversing camera, active parking assistance, speed-sensitive steering, tyre-pressure monitoring, active cruise control with autonomous braking, lane-departure warning/assistance and active blind spot assistance.

The freeway munching Merc also gets fuel saving idle-stop reducing fuel consumption to 10.0 litres per 100km.

Interior comfort is class leading with keyless entry and start, Harman Kardon surround sound system, full-length panoramic sunroof and UV protective windows.

Just the front seats alone contain a respectable list of equipment, with an endless combination of electrically adjustable positions, heating and cooling functions, active side bolsters, massage and memory functions and all wrapped up in fine Nappa leather with contrasting white stitching.

Black Alcantara lines the roof and also highlights the steering wheel, while silver seat-belts and a leather and ash clad dashboard completes the interior.

Seven airbags look after the occupants if all the electronic assistance still isn’t enough to maintain progress on the black-top.

At $249,900 the latest E63 is almost $6,000 more than the previous generation, but the higher spec S gets more standard equipment including a locking diff, which used to be a $13,000 option alone.

Mercedes’ mad A45 AMG has already sold out for six months and the new C63 AMG is expected to continue the same popularity and strong sales of previous years when it touches down next month.

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