Take a physics les­son

The E63 S rides on air and, with its dra­matic ac­cel­er­a­tion, makes a mock­ery of in­er­tia

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MOTORING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au

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.

VER­DICT

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.

Case closed.

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