2019 Mercedes-Benz E 63 S AMG
– Classically stylish
– Great handling and comfort
– Extremely powerful
– Expensive for an E-Class
– Lack of feedback from controls
– Spare wheel loose in the boot
It’s been a couple of years now since Mercedes-Benz’s marketing department decided to rename all future versions of their performance models as Mercedes-AMG, dropping the name of their founder. While it may or may not be just another short-term decision — just see how the CLK and CL badges were unceremoniously killed off — we’ll refer to it by its old name just because we don’t want to create a whole new brand to list this review under. Anyway, we drove the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG – also known as the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S – and found out if German monster-sedans are still relevant in today’s world.
The current E-Class is a very handsome car, although it doesn’t lend itself very well to being “sportified” due to its frumpy shape. With a keen eye, you’ll notice the different bumpers, the faux vents on the front fenders, the simplified grille, lip spoiler, and a few other bits and bobs, but unless you’re a true fanboy, you won’t know whether it’s an E200 “AMG Sport” fleet car or a top-dog AMG without counting the number of exhaust tips (which incidentally are also fake).
Inside is where you finally get your money’s worth, as there is soft-touch padding everywhere, with a stitched leather dash, carbon-fibre trim, alcantara steering wheel and carpeting in the footwell areas, and almost no hard plastics to be found. You get the same basic S-Class-style look of the cabin in an E200 as well, but the AMG takes it up a notch in terms of trim and features such as the changing mood lighting and door tweeters that spin out into position when the stereo is turned on.
The front seats are heavily bolstered along the backrest, while keeping the seat bottom fairly flat, making it more comfortable for fatter derrieres. The front chairs are also ventilated and have active side bolsters that push on you while turning. The rear features a typical bench, with a pull-down armrest in the middle. There are enough covered cup-holders and storage pockets to go around.
Better than ever is the interior space, with pretty decent legroom in the back as well now. The boot is huge, appearing to be longer and deeper than that of a Toyota Camry even, but its useability is ruined by the space-saver spare wheel just plonked in there, floating around unstrapped.
There are no less than three stalks on the left side of the steering wheel (indicator, steering adjustment, cruise control), and one on the right for selecting gears. We’re not sure why Mercedes is hanging on to this design clutter, as you’ll keep hitting the cruise control stalk when you want to just use the indicator.
All the usual luxury-grade features are available, such as the two huge screens on the dash instead of physical gauges, navigation, premium stereo, and a rotary dial controller to control it all instead of using touchscreens.
Other features include a panoramic glass roof, power bootlid, smart keyless entry and start, heads-up display, a full set of airbags, adaptive cruise control with auto braking and more.
The E 63 ups the ante with the S at the end of its name, as it gets an uprated 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 that makes 612 hp at 5750 rpm and a whopping 850 Nm of torque at 2500-4500 rpm. Mated to a 9-speed automatic, AMG takes advantage of rear-biased all-wheel-drive to put that power down, as we timed our test car doing 4.3 seconds in the 0-100 kph run, far short of the claimed time of 3.4 seconds, but we’ll chalk that up to our local conditions during this summer test.
It burns fuel like an SUV, as we managed a consumption rate of 17.7 litres/100 km (5.6 km/l) with mostly-sedate driving, so that smaller-displacement engine isn’t really much better than the old 6.2-litre V8 on that front.
The new boosted V8 doesn’t sound particularly good either, although there are some nice crackles and pops when the exhaust valves are opened up at the press of a button. The engine noise sounds largely muted from inside the cabin anyway.
While it’s blisteringly quick, the E 63 AMG isn’t particularly fun to drive if you’re already used to speed and prefer more control. While body roll and cornering limits are high, the throttle response is uneven and overly bogged down in comfort mode, while it’s overly sensitive in sport mode. The well-weighted steering feels weirdly artificial in its responses and offers little feedback.
On a positive note, the auto gearbox is quick in its shifts, while the drilled-rotor brakes are very strong. The ride is quiet and fairly comfortable, feeling mildly floatly in “comfort” mode, but still offering impressive grip when a corner comes up. It’s a 2-tonne sedan that can drift in “sport” mode, with the ESP reining it in nicely if you go too far. Previous-gen AMG sedans could not do that.
The AMG version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a very expensive way to go fast while appearing to be an Uber driver to the rest of the world. It’s not even particularly interesting to drive except for people with a heavy right foot. It’s pretty quiet and comfortable, but you can get that from the Mercedes-Benz E 200 as well, at a fraction of the cost. We actually liked the E 200 a lot in a previous review, so that remains our top choice in the E-Class range. And if we’re sticking to Mercedes, we’d keep an AMG GT (the SLS-based coupe, not the E-Class-based sedan) on the side for our sporting thrills, because that is a properly fun car.
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The E63 AMG is sorta like a value when it has supercar like performance at that price. What a brutal machine that is.