Just as good as S for less cash


MERCEDES’ MIS­SION TO of­fer a car for ev­ery pos­si­ble taste con­tin­ues apace. At last count, its lo­cal of­fer­ing con­sisted of 117 vari­ants, not in­clud­ing its com­mer­cial divi­sion (X-Class, vans). Ac­cord­ingly, Mercedes has deemed the gap be­tween the $159,611 E43 and $239,611 E63 S too large and so has in­tro­duced the $209,611 ‘base’ E63. The move breaks Mercedes Benz Aus­tralia’s re­cent habit of only im­port­ing the higher-spec ‘AMG S’ mod­els, its ra­tio­nale be­ing that most cus­tomers choose the fully loaded vari­ants any­way. None­the­less, it’s de­cided there’s enough buy­ers out there who want the reg­u­lar E63, so what can they look for­ward to? The most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence is a de­crease of 30kW/100Nm from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 com­pared to the S, how­ever it still has 420kW/750Nm to play with, enough to shift its 1875kg bulk (5kg less than the S) to 100km/h in a claimed 3.5sec. An in­ter­est­ing quirk is that the ‘power’ gauge on the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play shows 430kW un­der full ac­cel­er­a­tion, so per­haps AMG has thrown an extra 10kW in for free? Re­gard­less, the un­re­lent­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion of this beast is verg­ing on lu­nacy, its nine closely stacked ra­tios de­voured with barely di­min­ished fe­roc­ity. Peel your head off the head­rest and you’ll no­tice the crisper, sharper sound­track of the M177 4.0-litre in E63 tune. It’s an an­gry noise, though part of me misses the dirt­ier, grum­blier tone of the old twin-turbo 5.5-litre. Any­one used to pre­vi­ous E63s sim­ply won’t be able to be­lieve the trac­tion gen­er­ated by this new model. All-wheel drive has made wheel­spin a relic of yesteryear, though it hasn’t dulled the dy­nam­ics of Merc’s super sedan. It’s at its best on more open, flow­ing roads, where its point-to-point pace is just ridicu­lous. In tighter turns its weight and rel­a­tively soft setup – even in Sport there’s a de­gree of float­i­ness, which is an ob­ser­va­tion not a crit­i­cism in a car like this – comes to the fore, but the E63 also dis­plays an un­ex­pected agility. Loos­en­ing the rear with trail-brak­ing would only ex­ac­er­bate trac­tion is­sues in pre­vi­ous rear-drive E63s, but rear-bi­ased all-wheel drive al­lows the throt­tle to be floored in­cred­i­bly early, sling­shot­ting the car out of bends with a hint of over­steer. The steer­ing lacks a lit­tle pre­ci­sion and there’s the oc­ca­sional hint of very mild torque steer, but the E63 can be driven harder than most own­ers will ever imag­ine. Not for ter­ri­bly long for us, though. Af­ter a rel­a­tively short spell of ad­mit­tedly hard driv­ing, a tem­per­a­ture-re­lated warn­ing ap­peared on the dash, that dis­ap­peared af­ter be­ing parked for a few min­utes. The stock E63 also has smaller front ro­tors than the S (360mm vs 390mm) and they can feel the strain un­der sus­tained heavy brak­ing. Mercedes says any­one keen on us­ing an E63 for ex­tended hard driv­ing or race­track use should buy the S, leav­ing the stan­dard vari­ant for those who want to go very quickly in com­fort. Thank­fully, this is a role it per­forms ex­cep­tion­ally. The in­te­rior is top-notch and the ride marginally softer than the S; it’s still firm, but sharp bumps don’t thud through the bodyshell the way they do in the more fo­cused ver­sion. It stays closer to tra­di­tional super sedan val­ues than the four-door su­per­car S. Mercedes ex­pects the ma­jor­ity of cus­tomers to choose the higher-spec model, purely be­cause buy­ers in this bracket want the ul­ti­mate, but for the type of driv­ing these cars typ­i­cally do, the reg­u­lar E63 is ar­guably the more ap­pro­pri­ate choice. Still, I guess that shows the wis­dom in Mercedes’ ap­proach: what­ever your taste, it’s got the car for you.

ABOVE LEFT Classy in­te­rior has high-qual­ity fin­ishes; dash dom­i­nated by two 12.3-inch screens, for gauges and in­fo­tain­ment

ABOVE RIGHT Front brake ro­tors are only 30mm smaller than those on E63, but aren’t quite up to race­track work

OP­PO­SITE E63 has so much per­for­mance and grip that most driv­ers won’t even no­tice its 1875kg weight

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