Road Test: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

Ray Leathern explains why the E63 AMG is the ultimate status symbol for wealthy executives and the WaBenzie.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

You’ll always see the most lavish WaBenzies tucked into ‘reserved’ parking bays at remote, underground, city car parks; peeling off the highway at the most exclusive suburbs, or driving up the longest diplomatic driveways. What is clear about the E-Class in particular is that it values luxury above all else in its execution and so do the executives that buy them.

This is why I’m convinced the Mercedes-Benz and AMG executives don’t like each other very much and can never come to an agreement in their production meetings. The Merc execs probably go down to the AMG basement and say they want a beefy E-Class, but all the creature comforts must stay. The AMG execs say: “Right, if you want to equip it with more tech than the space shuttle and refuse to ditch any weight, be like that. We’re throwing in our new organ rearranging bi-turbo V8!”

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

The lunacy that results in the case of the E63, is a big, 1 840 kg, marauding, tyre shredder of a car that’s more ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ than Wall Street briefcase-touting executive. 386 kW and 700 Nm of torque from the 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 gets the executive express from zero to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds and onto a top speed, if the limiter were to be removed, of over 300 km/h. The two factions are constantly at war, but we also know that war was responsible some of the greatest periods of technological advancement in society.

The power is sent to the E63′s rear wheels via an AMG MCT 7-Speed Automatic transmission. It wears a set of 19-inch wheels at the rear in an effort to deliver that power onto the ground, and they are bolted to fade-resistant composite-construction ceramic brakes. The E63 AMG adopts understated styling compared to its AMG stable mates. The lower air intake, and of course the quad-tailpipes at the back, signify little else but business. Aside from those, you’d be hard pressed to tell the E63 AMG apart from any other E-Class serving duty as an airport taxi cab or hotel shuttle car. Just the sucker punch you need when you’re a foot solider against feuding German V8 super saloons.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

Now you join me somewhere in the heart of the Karoo. I can’t tell you exactly where because a) I don’t know exactly (not far from Sutherland) and b) I fear reprisals from the local law enforcement. So best I keep it to myself. The sky is awash with wisps of pink and pastel blue, the sun only moments away from making its grand exit over the horizon towards which my E63 AMG is thundering.

All of the E63 AMG’s 700 Nm of V8 torque is free from the glutinous confines of its executive, urban habitat. It’s showing itself to be one helluva laugh. It’s the sound from its baritone groan below 2 000 r/min, surging all the way to its wailing, Tarzan impression at 7 000 r/min. The AMG bods will tell you it’s thanks to the twin symmetric turbos with optimised air intakes, electronic fuel injection and an all-new common length manifold, that gives the forced induction engine such an acoustic thrill. All I know is the AMG engineers’ hard work is making the hairs on my neck stand to attention and my adrenal glands have jammed into permanent attack mode.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

Aside from its racecar acoustics at full throttle, the E63 AMG pulls like an absolute hurricane. Make no mistake, the E63 AMG is quick, rapid fire quick and has the potential to land its owner in plenty of trouble with the law. To amble along at the national speed limit in seventh gear requires a disdainful 2 000 r/min and to stir the E63 AMG anywhere near its power band induces speeds of very topographically talented proportions.

The E63 AMG’s party piece is its ability to twist out 700 Nm of torque. Critically almost all of that torque is available between 2 000 and 4 500 r/min, giving you a tidal wave of thrust at your command from any gear at almost any revs. I have to say, I was rather taken aback at how brutal the power delivery in the E63 AMG is. You have a sense with the E63 AMG, that under the bullet proof engineering, rages a whirling mass of brutality. With the three-pointed star lighting you forward and the rear-wheel drive slinging you from the back, the E63 AMG V8 is nothing but pure Germanic muscle.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

The horizon towards which I was aimed earlier has long since passed as a footnote in my rear view mirror and now I find myself barreling into a cavernous valley full of complex corners and blind bends to test the E63 AMG’s handling. The suspension is fully independent with advanced multi-link designs in both the back and front. AMG’s Ride Control and sports suspension keeps the chassis composed and direct. You’d scarcely believe it, but this big bruising saloon displays supreme balance in the corners.

The rigid chassis gives biting turn-in to a corner and demonstrates very little body roll. As you ease onto the throttle on your way out, a perceptible shift of weight transfers through the cabin to the E63’s backend. Three suspension settings can be selected: ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’. The front axle sports a 56 mm wider track, tubular stabilisers, new transverse struts and a larger negative camber. The rear axle has an optimised sub frame mounting and increased spring rates for less body roll.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

The E63 AMG really rushes like mercury around the bends and this ability to communicate to you through a corner is really the stand out characteristic of the E63 AMG. It is a characteristic that always encourages you to push the limit further and further in every corner. The E63 AMG does not feel even half the size it actually is when you travel dynamically and at great speeds.

Time in a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG then, with some open road in front of you, is a frenzy of excitement, brutal acceleration and surprising dynamics. When you get back to the city and its executive territory, the E63 retreats quietly back to its understated, self-assured ways. Is it better than a BMW M5? I would say it is. The BMW can only do aggression. The Mercedes-Benz does that and everything else.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

What we like…

  • Interior comfort, dynamic and massaging seats.
  • Freight train acceleration from the bi-turbo V8 engine.
  • Great dynamics when the road gets twisty.
  • Great economy considering the power and torque output.

What we would like…

  • A slightly more flamboyant exterior.
  • For it not to cost more than the BMW M5.
Quick Facts
Base Price R1 275 000
Warranty 6-years / 120 000 km
Engine Capacity 5 461 cm³
No. Of Cylinders 8-cylinders, V-formation
Aspiration Twin Turbocharged
Power 386 kW @ 5 250 r/min
Torque 700 Nm @ 2 000 r/min
Transmission 7-speed Automatic
Drive type Rear-Wheel Drive
Acceleration 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed 250 km/h (limited)
Fuel Consumption 12.6 L/100km (claimed combined)
CO2 Emissions 230 g/km

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Ray Leathern

About Ray Leathern

Ray Leathern has been test driving and critiquing cars for over five years now. He won the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) 'Highly Recommended for Internet' prize in 2012, is a member of the SAGMJ committee, as well as being a member of SA's 2012 Car of the Year jury. Ray's passion for motoring knows no bounds. What Ray writes, we read and we suggest you do too. Follow Ray on Twitter.

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