Take a physics lesson
The E63 S rides on air and, with its dramatic acceleration, makes a mockery of inertia
PHYSICS eventually will limit just how quickly performance cars can accelerate.
Meanwhile, engineers keep finding new ways to propel vehicles like the MercedesBenz E63 S AMG, a two-tonne sedan that blasts from 0-100km/h in just 3.4 seconds — faster than a Porsche 911 sports car.
Some manufacturers publish optimistic claims but big luxury four-door’s sprint time is the real deal. Using our satellite timing gear, we matched the maker’s 0-100km/h claim, in opposite directions, on the same piece of tarmac, repeatedly. It felt as if the front wheels lifted off the ground on takeoff, so dramatic was the acceleration.
The secret weapons to the slingshot start: a twin turbo 4.0-litre V8 (in this application, outputs are 450kW/850Nm) matched to a nine-speed auto and all-wheel-drive.
Mercedes was obliged to opt for all-wheel traction because their engines were starting to overpower the grip available from the rear tyres. How much quicker we can accelerate from here is anyone’s guess. Surely we’re nearing the limit.
For buyers who may be concerned about the effects of such brutal force, Mercedes has reintroduced a regular version of the E63 with a detuned version of the same engine (420kW/750Nm). It is 0.1 second slower to 100km/h.
Those in less of a rush will save tens of thousands of dollars for their patience: the E63 (due later this year) costs $209,900 plus on-roads whereas the E63 S we tested starts from $239,900.
The previous E63 started at $250,000 plus on-roads.
The $30,000 premium for the E63 S buys not only more power but also an electronically controlled rear differential, performance exhaust, bodyhugging seats, sports steering wheel, “dynamic” engine mounts that improve track driving performance and a digital TV tuner.
The E63 S also gets black multi-spoke alloys and blacked out mirror caps and side skirts.
Both models come with intelligent headlights (with high-beams that don’t dazzle oncoming cars), nine airbags, radar cruise control, automatic lane-keeping and a 360-degree camera linked to a high resolution screen.
The boffins at AMG have made good use of the superwide cabin screen and instrument display.
One view shows drivers not only the air pressure and temperature in each tyre but also engine and gearbox temperature. This is critical info for anyone who dares take one of these on a track day.
For fuel misers, a small symbol shows when the V8 is running on just four cylinders, usually in stop-start traffic or when cruising on freeways.
Of course, the E63 S is at its best on an open road. We had limited time behind the wheel on demanding roads during the preview drive but early signs are that Mercedes has an epic car on its hands.
This is the first E63 to ride on air suspension. I’m not usually a fan but AMG has put the time and money into getting it right.
In comfort mode the suspension is busy but not firm or uncomfortable. The tyres are so wide that on well-worn tarmac, the Pirelli P Zero rubber occasionally wants to follow the camber of the road. In the sportiest (stiffest) mode, the E63 is also surprisingly liveable.
It’s the grip out of corners that astounds. The steering is eerily smooth and light for such a brute of a car, disguising just how much traction you’re dealing with.
The V8 snarls, crackles and pops when you activate the performance exhaust with the press of a button, though it’s quieter than its predecessor and some other V8 AMGs.
In quiet mode, you’d barely know it’s a V8. In this price range, evidently, not everyone wants their luxury sedan to sound like a V8 Supercar.
It’s faster than a Porsche 911. It’s cheaper than a Porsche 911. And it delights the senses more than a Porsche 911.
It has the added practicality and comfort of four doors, so others can share the spoils.