Mercedes AMG E 63 S. We test drive this 450kW, mon­ster of 0-100 a lux­ury in sports 3.4sec, sedan rear-drive mode... we tame the wild new AMG E63 S

AMG's ball-tear­ing 450kW uber sedan is here, and it's se­ri­ously good

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - by MICHAEL TAY­LOR

EV­ERY CAR ever made has been built around core pil­lars of one kind or an­other. For the E63 AMG, there have been three: a bru­tal en­gine note that shook win­dows, straight-line speed and cos­set­ing in­te­rior lux­ury.

A sin­gle kilo­me­tre al­ways told you the E63 had pri­ori­tised the abil­ity to sit com­fort­ably on its 250km/h speed lim­iter on an au­to­bahn above any other ride or han­dling mea­sure. And you re­spected that, even if it made it a bit limited as an all-rounder.

AMG's mid-sizer has al­ways been a com­pe­tent han­dler rather than an in­ter­est­ing one, its Ger­man own­ers more cheered by the abil­ity to not lift off the loud pedal for a 250km/h bend than ha­rass­ing proper sports cars over moun­tain passes.

Times have changed. The E63 S has grown up, and fast. It's now the most rounded sports sedan AMG has ever made, and that reck­ons with the fab­u­lous C63. The thing is that it han­dles prop­erly now. It can slide and it can chomp down on its brakes and re­main in a straight line, no mat­ter how ridicu­lously late the self-preser­va­tion im­pulse strikes its driver. It can then drive through the cor­ner like an adult, push through like the near two-tonne beastie it is, whip through in de­light­ful four-wheel drifts or in lurid, back boot-burn­ing pow­er­slides.

There are a cou­ple of rea­sons for this. The first is that Benz and AMG have fi­nally fig­ured out how to de­liver all-wheel drive and right-hand drive at the same time. I know, right? The best or noth­ing in­deed. That isn't just good for grip, but it's good for fun times, be­cause it's an ac­tive cen­tre dif­fer­en­tial and, in E63 S form, com­bines with an elec­tron­i­cally-con­trolled rear diff, both of which work off the same com­puter map that runs the en­gine and gear­box.

Then there's the sus­pen­sion. The hard­ware is a bit like the E-Class, but much bet­ter. It's 17mm wider at both ends, with AMG-spe­cific stuff like alu­minium up­rights for the five-link rear end and an up­grade of the C63 's four-link front sus­pen­sion. The key up­grade in all of that is the adop­tion of the three-cham­ber ac­tive air sus­pen­sion that lets the whole thing sit flat and change on de­mand via the mode but­ton. Or you can be lazy and let it do its own thing, stiff­en­ing the nose un­der brakes or the tail un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The beaut part of the E63 S is that it is a bet­ter op­er­a­tor in the bends, plus it still sleds its way to 100km/h in 3.4 sec­onds. Yes, 3.4. A three, a dec­i­mal point and then a four. It will still of­fi­cially top out at 250km/h, though that can also be em­biggened with

It can blast through cor­ners, de­spite be­ing the near two-tonne beastie it is

the right box ticked un­til it whips along at 300km/h, but it's clear that this is now a full-sized five seater that har­ries su­per­cars in a straight line. If you re­ally want to put it into per­spec­tive, the cur­rent M5 takes a third longer to reach 100km/h.

This is de­spite the E63 S's en­gine shrink­ing again, down from 6.2 litres to 5.5 in the last gen­er­a­tion and now it's on the mod­u­lar Benz model of 500cc per pot. That shouldn't be a con­cern, though. Even the 'ju­nior' E63 has 420kW of power and 750Nm (good enough for 0-100km/h in 3.5 sec­onds, though it's an un­likely starter here), but the E63 S crunches out 450kW and 850Nm and it's never had this many fast-twitch mus­cle fi­bres be­fore.

The 3982cc V8 uses a pair of twin-scroll tur­bocharg­ers, mounted in­side the hot vee, to shove in up to 1.5bar of air pres­sure that helps de­liver the torque peak from only 2500rpm. While it uses spray-guided di­rect fuel in­jec­tion and other good­ies like an alu­minium crank­case, it also has cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion to turn it into a V4 when it's cruis­ing. Then the whole thing rests on ac­tive en­gine mounts to ar­rest the in­er­tia of the big­gest chunk of mass when­ever it's cor­ner­ing.

AMG has done to Benz's nine-speed auto what it did to the old seven-speeder. It tough­ened it up, gave it dif­fer­ent ra­tios and then chucked out the chunky torque con­verter and re­placed it with a bunch of wet clutches. It's now lighter and changes gear quicker.

It's got stop­ping power, too, though we can't vouch for the stock steel brakes, be­cause the only an­chors we could use were the op­tional car­bon-ce­ram­ics, which com­bine a com­pos­ite 402mm x 39mm front disc clamped by a six-pis­ton fixed caliper with a steel 360mm x 32mm disc and sin­gle-pis­ton caliper at the rear. That's all rid­ing on Miche­lin's finest 265/40 R19 front tyres and 295/35 R19 rears, which seem to be fusible links for the rest of the clev­er­ness at the ac­tual road in­ter­face.

Sure, most peo­ple will spend most of their time

in Com­fort mode, which isn't ac­tu­ally all that com­fort­able. It's firm, to the point where you be­gin to won­der whether it's too firm, but it's beau­ti­fully con­trolled with it. You see cars in front of you crunch over big hits that you brace for, only for the E63 to walk over them with dis­dain. It's only the lit­tle stuff that seems to nib­ble, then.

It comes into its own in Sport and Sport Plus modes, where the sus­pen­sion switches things up and this big car cor­ners so flat and steady that you just don't get tossed around like any other sports sedan. And that's the se­cret to the rest of it. You can pick up the E63 S and fling it at the scenery like it's a smaller, cheaper Lancer Evo­lu­tion and it will all just work. Ex­cept louder and faster and, if you push the spe­cial Loude­na­tor but­ton on the gear­box con­sole, louder again.

Oh, it’s fast. Bru­tally fast. Eye-wa­ter­ingly quick. It’s at the point now that the timid won’t bring them­selves to give it full throt­tle for any more than a sec­ond or two now, and the brave would be ad­vised against it lest they at­tract the un­wanted at­ten­tion of lo­cal law en­force­ment author­i­ties.

And it’s not just loud. It’s fu­ri­ously loud, like a bot­tle of con­cen­trated rage has been shaken up and had the cork popped out of it. It’s like a giant is rip­ping sheets of metal bare handed in­side a ket­tle drum. It’s not a gen­tle sound. Lift off the throt­tle or change down a gear and the pops and cracks seem like you’re lis­ten­ing to an en­tire sprint­car field, com­bined with ar­tillery prac­tice, from in­side a cos­seted leather box. And AMG sug­gests you don’t crank up the Loude­na­tor but­ton in built-up ar­eas...

A sim­ple brush on the throt­tle in ei­ther of these modes is enough to scorch the sedan up the road, while stomp­ing on it brings out the beast and the E63 bel­lows for­ward, chas­ing the hori­zon like it stole its wal­let. When its power peaks and goes, so goes the next gear, faster than you read it. It hardly stops punch­ing and even when you even­tu­ally do find the surge tail­ing off sud­denly and un­ex­pect­edly, you look down in sur­prise to see that it’s ac­tu­ally only tail­ing off be­cause it’s now sit­ting on its speed lim­iter.

The gearshift is beau­ti­ful, too. It’s slick and com­fort­able in Com­fort, fast in the mid­dle modes and bru­tal in Race. It can get a bit jerky on throt­tle re­sponse if you try to be gen­tle in Race mode, but that’s more op­er­a­tor fault than the car’s prob­lem.

What’s new is a gen­uine love of be­ing hurled at the scenery and the way it makes light and fun of sit­u­a­tions that would have had pre­vi­ous E63 gen­er­a­tions flar­ing the ESP in dam­age con­trol. The front end is re­li­able and ac­cu­rate, and though the steer­ing doesn’t give much feel it coun­ters with a nice heft. The whole car feels like it’s in­cred­i­bly ac­cu­rate to your steer­ing and weight-trans­fer touches.

The cen­tre and rear diffs are so sharp now that you can use the back end to help ro­tate into a cor­ner and then hook it up with bru­tal ac­cel­er­a­tion on the way out again, even in the wet. Get it right, which is most of the time, and the whole thing feels like it has a two-me­tre wheel­base on turn-in and a fiveme­tre wheel­base when­ever it starts to slide. It’s just so con­trol­lable, all the time, and so en­joy­able to push to and be­yond its lim­its that it’s ac­tu­ally dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile with the badge.

Snap the throt­tle open com­ing out of a cor­ner and it will some­times fall into un­der­steer. Open it more gen­tly, with more dis­ci­pline, and you move into a spe­cial zone; a place where you can de­liver the most gor­geous, ab­so­lutely con­trolled, wickedly fast four­wheel drifts on the way out.

It’s so re­li­able, fun and pre­dictable that the ESP but­ton al­most be­comes re­dun­dant, ex­cept as a thing to keep guest driv­ers in line when you’re not around. There are times when it can feel all of its 1880kg, es­pe­cially if you’ve not man­aged the turn in cor­rectly on a tight cor­ner, but mostly it feels lithe and far lighter, and it helps, too, that the brakes are phe­nom­e­nally strong.

Its in­te­rior ben­e­fits from the E-Class’s mas­sive leap for­ward, and AMG gives it a few lux­ury tick­les and some soft­ware ones. The best of them is a new

con­nected app that lets you trans­fer stuff to and from your smart­phone, though the an­noy­ing one is that it drops out the nav­i­ga­tion the in­stant you put your phone on a ca­ble into the USB port. That’s a bit an­noy­ing and they’re work­ing on it.

You can switch be­tween dis­plays on the enor­mous dash screen, but the best of them is in Race mode, when you ratchet up the good stuff. Be­sides a lap timer, the car gives you sec­tor times, the abil­ity to record your 0-100km/h times, plus speed, lon­gi­tu­di­nal and lat­eral ac­cel­er­a­tion, brak­ing and even steer­ing an­gle data.

The leather, pow­ered seats are com­fort­able on long high­way drives and just as com­fort­able slic­ing through moun­tains, and the steer­ing wheel seems nicely sized as well as be­ing nicely weighted. There’s an odd point at night where the start but­ton doesn’t dim, but re­flects off the wind­screen like some moon you are al­ways chas­ing. The ABS also does a bit of old-school spring­back if you hit a sharp bump un­der brakes and takes far too long to de­liver full brak­ing power again. And the PreSafe brak­ing sys­tem slices you in half with the seat belt ev­ery time you at­tack a cor­ner, too. But that’s it for gen­uine gripes.

It’s not just the best E63 AMG has ever built. It’s the best AMG AMG has ever built.

Gold calipers sig­nify car­bon­ce­ramic front brakes, with six-pot calipers clamp­ing enor­mous 402mm discs

As usual Aussie E63s will come fully loaded with gear that's op­tional over­seas, in­clud­ing per­for­mance seats and op­tional Burmester au­dio sys­tem

Lo­cal pric­ing is yet to be con­firmed, but we'd ex­pect a slight in­crease over the cur­rent car's $250,540

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