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Glen Waddington tests the new #Mercedes-AMG-E63-S / , the two-tonne limo that goes like a supercar. / #Mercedes-AMG-E63-S-4MATIC-W213 / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-E63-S-4MATIC / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-E63-S-4MATIC-W213 / #Mercedes-Benz-W213 / #Mercedes-Benz-E-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-E-Class-W213 / #2017 / #Mercedes-Benz
FIRST UP, a number. Quite a large number: 604bhp. Not far shy of what a McLaren F1’s 6.0-litre V12 managed. Still enough for serious supercar territory. Only this is in a rather substantial executive car.
The grunt comes from a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8, seen already in the smaller C63 and the more hardcore Mercedes-AMG GT coupé. Only it’s been tuned further for this application. Naturally enough, ‘it’s the most powerful #E-Class ever,’ says Oliver Wiech, director of vehicle development for #Mercedes-AMG .
And there have been plenty of powerful E-classes before. I always harboured a soft spot for the last generation, with its hugely luxuriant and satisfyingly symphonic naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, and I vividly recall a journey in Switzerland with exotic car broker Simon Kidston in his supercharged E55 #AMG , while he conducted a three-way hands-free phone conversation in (immaculate) English, Italian and French before casually announcing that he was driving to Milan after he’d dropped me at Geneva airport. It’s that kind of car.
What else is new, bar the downsizing and forced induction of the #V8 , is four-wheel drive. Specially developed to apportion torque to individual wheels as required, rather than simply front-to-back, and hooked up to a ninespeed multi-clutch paddleshift transmission, it combines with #AMG-tuned air suspension that operates in three modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport+), gradually firming up with more aggressive throttle and gearshift mapping to match. Plus degrees of exhaust loudness. And a rear-drive-only drift mode. What a hooligan.
Yet first impressions are of anything but. In dark blue with chrome on anthracite 20s, it’s menacing yet tastefully so. Within, the atmosphere is trad with a modern edge; like a five-star hotel with aluminium in place of giltwork. And that V8 fires with a distant rumble, in spite of an exhaust that, even at idle, speaks big-stick volumes to observers.
On the motorway it is supple and silent, yet look down at the speedo (your choice of displays, thanks to a huge TFT screen that spans the dash) and you’ll find yourself travelling at unlikely speeds without realising. What feels like 60mph is more like double that. And it’ll reach 60mph (sorry, Europe, 62mph) from rest in 3.4sec. Honestly.
Southern Portugal’s mountain roads tempt us away from the comfy highway, offering the chance to revel in rabid, fearsome, unrelenting acceleration you might otherwise expect in a supercar. Comfort mode is a bit loose here; Sport ties things down nicely but the big surprise is how Sport+ mode, in these tight and bumpy twisties, maintains exceptional ride refinement while making turn-in instant, deftly quelling body movement and allowing you to properly exploit the Merc’s exquisite balance.
It simply eats corners, the four-wheel drive keeping you out of the weeds yet never getting in the way and washing you out. Only through deep compressions are you aware of so much mass, yet, even though the big Merc will slam into the bump-stops, it recovers in a single stroke, and never feels as long and wide as it is.
The E63 faces talented rivals, though the #BMW-M5 is ageing and the #Audi-RS6 has less character. A more honest exhaust note like the last version’s, in place of the contrived thunder that turbos force, would edge it closer to perfection, but that’s the price of progress. In every other respect, progress is priceless.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.