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Mercedes-Benz E63 S 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
8
John Carey road tests and reviews the 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S at its international launch in Portugal.

John Carey road tests and reviews the 2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S at its international launch in Portugal.

At Mercedes-AMG, too much power is never enough. It's a credo that explains why the new E63 S breaks through the 600-horsepower barrier with its twin-turbo V8 roaring.

In earlier times this achievement would likely have been hailed a milestone in the evolution of the sports sedan but its metric equivalent, 450kW, doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

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Australians have a healthy appetite for the very fast, loud and expensive cars from the Mercedes-AMG factory in Affalterbach, outside Stuttgart. They make up a bigger proportion of total Mercedes-Benz sales here — about 14 per cent — than any other country.

Even though the new E63 S will cost about $250,000, a similar price to the model it replaces, there's sure to be a queue of repeat customers lined up when it arrives in about eight months. Increased power is just one of several very good reasons to prefer the newcomer.

The 2017 version of the E63 S is based on the latest generation of the big E-Class sedan, known to car obsessives by its W213 model code. This is the E-Class that at last fixes a long-running Mercedes-Benz mistake (yes, even Germans make them).

This hefty, five-seat sedan has acceleration to rival exotic, two-seat supercars costing much more.

Until now, Mercedes-Benz's all-wheel-drive was only compatible with left-hand drive. With the W123, it has finally developed a set-up for right-hand drive cars, the smartest version yet of Stuttgart's AWD technology.

The enhanced traction means the additional power Mercedes-AMG extracts from its hand-built 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 doesn't go to tyre-smoking waste.

Mercedes-AMG claims just 3.4 seconds for the sprint from rest to 0-100km/h, so this hefty, five-seat sedan has acceleration to rival exotic, two-seat supercars costing much more.

The improvements don't end here. The new E63 S is also the first Mercedes-AMG equipped with the company's nine-speed automatic.

There's also improved air suspension, with three-chamber pneumatic springs.

Under the bonnet, the biggest change is the adoption of twin-scroll turbochargers. These are the key to the extra power, according to Mercedes-AMG engineers.

While they were at it, they also improved fuel efficiency by adding cylinder deactivation. When only a fraction of the V8's power is needed, it can turn itself into a V4.

The E-Class is the most advanced car Mercedes-Benz builds (for now). All of the hi-tech active safety, driver-aid and multimedia gear that make it so are in the E63 S.

It only takes a little pressure on the accelerator to unleash the other side of the E63 S's character.

Noticeable differences are a sportier, Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and snug-fit sports seats. Exterior alterations include new front guards, bonnet and bumper, plus a wind-tunnel tested bootlid spoiler and chrome-tipped quad exhausts.

In normal driving, say on a motorway, the E63 S oozes the same air of technical sophistication and leathery luxury as any E-Class. With its driving mode set to comfort, the sedan rides smoothly.

The only thing to disturb the peace is painful noise from the sticky 20-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

It only takes a little pressure on the accelerator to unleash the other side of the E63 S's character. Overtaking is ridiculously easy in this car, thanks to the relentless surge of acceleration delivered by the epic engine and swift-shifting auto working together.

Switch to sport or sport plus modes for sharper handling and it is also capable of effortless speed on a winding road.

Verdict

The best place to see what the E63 S can really do is a racetrack. Thoughtfully, the circuit at Portimao in southern Portugal was hired for the international launch.

As the afternoon light faded, you could see the front brake discs glowing red as the cars slowed for the track's tighter corners. After leaning slightly through the curves, there was the blaring sound of one of the world's best V8 exhaust notes.

It was, all in all, a fair impression of a V8 race car.

But Mercedes-AMG won't stop here. There's already someone at Affalterbach, you can be sure, working on a way to bust the 500kW barrier.

Get the drift

The E63 S features a drift mode, similar to the tech that put the blowtorch on Ford after the launch of its Focus RS hot hatch earlier this year. This mode channels all of the E63 S's power to the rear wheels and Mercedes-AMG makes it deliberately hard to access.

First, track-only Race mode must be selected. Then the electronic stability control must be deactivated and the transmission set to manual gear selection. Only then can the paddleshifts be used to activate the mode.

Mercedes-AMG is obviously keen to avoid being the target of another media frenzy. But, realistically, how many drivers who can afford a $250,000 car are likely be an inexperienced, immature danger to other road users?

Slow, no go

Mercedes-AMG will produce a less-powerful E63, with a 420kW version of its twin-turbo V8. The "non-S" engine is mechanically identical; management software alone makes the difference. Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says the slower E63 is unlikely to be imported.

Would you prefer an E63 S to an M5? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$78,400
Based on 34 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$59,485
Highest Price
$136,800

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
E400 4MATIC 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $102,800 – 136,800 2017 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS 2017 E400 4MATIC Pricing and Specs
E200 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $65,988 – 79,800 2017 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS 2017 E200 Pricing and Specs
E400 Night Edition 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $93,610 – 107,580 2017 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS 2017 E400 Night Edition Pricing and Specs
E400 4MATIC 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $102,800 – 136,800 2017 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS 2017 E400 4MATIC Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8