MERCEDES-BENZ E63 S AMG
VALUE The just-released, new generation Mercedes E63 S starts at $239,900 plus on-road costs — undercutting the previous model, which was in excess of $250,000. The new one is $253,000 drive-away (of which at least $58,000 is the luxury car tax component). It comes fully loaded with the latest E-Class technology, including intelligent headlights with high-beams that don’t dazzle oncoming cars, nine airbags, lane-keeping assistance and plenty more. DESIGN Not everyone is a fan of matt grey paint but it suits the menacing design, with a dramatic front bumper that looks as if it’s going to consume all before it. As with the Porsche, a 360-degree camera with a high-resolution wide-screen display is standard. The cabin gets a boost with real matt black timber; the sports bucket seats fit more snugly than the Porsche’s pews. ENGINE The Benz also has a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. But AMG has extracted an epic amount of grunt (450kW/850Nm), giving it more power in a lighter body (1955kg) than the Porsche. Matched to a nine-speed torque converter auto and all-wheel drive, it’s quicker than the dearer Porsche (we consistently matched Mercedes’ claims for the 0-100km/h sprint — a mindboggling 3.4 seconds). SAFETY Nine airbags and automatic emergency braking (from 100km/h) are standard fare. The optional ($9900) carbon ceramic brakes wash off speed at an incredible and consistent rate (100km/h to 0 in 34.6 metres, the average after four emergency stops). Many top end sports-cars can’t match this. DRIVING The Mercedes E63 S is a car that delights the senses but it‘s a workout every time you drive it. In cruise mode it feels docile and comfortable in isolation. But after driving the Porsche it feels and sounds more raucous. Cornering grip is superb and predictable — and acceleration out of corners is epic. These are highly acclaimed vehicles but, if it comes to splitting hairs, the Benz cedes the slightest edge when it comes to precision in the bends.