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First drive: E63 AMG heads fresh E-class range

Blink and you'll miss them: Changes to the revised E-class are many.

Mercedes-Benz goes ballistic with an E63 AMG to lead its facelifted E-class range

27 Sep 2006

ALTHOUGH hard to pick, Mercedes-Benz claims there are 2000 new or redeveloped parts in its mid-life makeover of the E-class sedan and wagon.

Many of the changes, like the steering wheel feedback and slightly firmer suspension settings designed to enhance cornering and offer a more neutral stance, were in response to customer feedback.

Elegance and Avantgarde models also come with rebound buffer springs, which effectively limit body roll, as part of the "direct control" suspension, which also includes a redesigned, tougher front four-link suspension that has reduced understeer.

As part of the improvements Mercedes claims steering rack rattle has been eliminated with additional column damping and the steering ratio is 10 per cent quicker, now 14.7 instead of the previous 16.3.

The 10 model line-up has been expanded to include a turbo-diesel wagon, the E280 CDI while the E500 gains a new 5.5-litre V8 from the S-class.

Apart from the E280CDi and E500, the line-up includes the four-cylinder E200K, E280 V6, E350 V6 and range-topping E63 6.2-litre V8 AMG sedan and wagon.

The E200K is more powerful, producing 135kW (+15kW) and 250Nm (+10Nm), while E500 power and torque is up 285kW (+60kW) and 530Nm (+70Nm) than the previous models.

The range-topping E63 AMG gets an extra 28kW, now 378kW but loses 70Nm, now down to a still-not-insignificant 630Nm.

Apart from the E200K, which gets a five-speed auto, all E-class engines are mated to Mercedes’ 7G-tronic seven-speed auto.

Visually both the sedan and wagon get refreshed styling, with new bumpers, foglights, deeper V-shaped grille, new alloy designs, revised exterior mirrors, new tail lights, larger high-level brake light on the wagon and a wider chrome strip on the sedan’s boot.

Inside, the cars gain the CLS steering wheel, climate control digital display, revised auto-dimming interior mirror, new upholstery and "designer" ignition key.

Prices have increased $2000 for the E200K, E280, E350 and E63 AMG, $5000 for the E280 CDI, and $2400 for the E500.

However, Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars Australia managing director, Horst von Sanden, said the cars offered more equipment and an improved driving experience.

All models now gain the adaptive brake system from the S-class, which provides electronic control of the dual-circuit brakes, wet-brake and hill-holder functions.

There is also a tyre pressure loss warning system, Pre-Safe, active headrests, improved rain-sensing windscreen wipers, two-part load compartment on wagons and luggage net.

4 center imageSteering wheel paddles are now standard with the optional Sports package, which varies between $2000 and $3900, depending on the model.

Like the outgoing model, Mr von Sanden said he expected the E280 and E350 to be the volume cars for the range with the AMG models garnering upwards of 50 sales annually.

So far this year 1008 E-classes have found buyers, with the C-class remaining the volume model for the brand.

The AMG models remain the enthusiast’s choice.

Last year 465 AMG cars were delivered with strong interest in the CLS AMG, which Mr von Sanden admitted had eaten into E-class AMG sales.

However, he expected the E63 AMG to swing some buyers back into the E-class-based car.

The E63 AMG is the fastest E-class model of all time, hitting 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. It has an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.

In keeping with its sports credentials, the AMG 6.3-litre V8 has three shift programs, from more comfort-oriented changes to sports gear changes, in either automatic or manual mode via new AMG aluminium steering wheel paddles.

To match the go, the AMG 63 has a high-performance braking system with internally ventilated, perforated disc brakes all-round.

The car’s sports suspension is based on the semi-active Airmatic air suspension includes three-mode adaptive damping.

The massive titanium grey, five-spoke 18-inch AMG light-alloys are fitted with wide-base tyres 245/40 front and 265/35 rear.

Apart from the wheels the AMG cars gain a heavily contoured front bumper, larger spoiler and round chrome-surround foglights.

Heat from the integral, additional engine oil-cooler in the front bumper dissipates via air vents in the sides.

The car is identified by the "6.3 AMG" lettering on the guards.

As well, the car gains side skirts, tinted rear light clusters and a redesigned AMG rear bumper on the sedan with a new spoiler that reduces rear lift by up to 30 per cent and a quad sports exhaust system.

Inside there are hip-hugging AMG sports alcantara seats and AMG sports steering wheel.

Mercedes Benz E-class pricing:
E200K $84,500
E280 $99,500
E280 CDi $101,500
E350 $126,500
E500 $160,300
E63 AMG $227,600
Estate premium $6000

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