RE­FINED MEETS RAM­PAG­ING

AMG builds on rock-solid foun­da­tions to pro­duce a prodi­gious E-Class pair

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - MOTORING - PAUL GOVER

Over Mount Panorama’s Sky­line and down into The Esses, this $200,000 car feels noth­ing like a lux­ury snoozer. Through The Dip­per and down to­wards For­rests El­bow, it builds speed more like a race car, the 4.0-litre biturbo V8 haul­ing like a steam lo­co­mo­tive.

That’s the beauty of the Mercedes-AMG E63 and its slightly sharper twin, the E63 S.

Thanks to the five-star lux­ury and safety of the lat­est E-Class pack­age, which first landed in Aus­tralia in 2016 with the E220D, AMG builds its go-faster cars on rock-solid foun­da­tions.

The lux­ury touches in­clude LED head­lamps and the bril­liant widescreen dig­i­tal dash­board and the safety pack­age has a smart auto lanechange func­tion – tip the in­di­ca­tor once and, if there is space, the car makes the move for you.

So you can drive it and en­joy it in any con­di­tions, from stop-start through the sub­urbs to an all-out track at­tack at Bathurst.

The new car is slightly cheaper with more stan­dard equip­ment than the old E63. It’s priced from $209,610 with the AMG V8 (420kW/750N) feed­ing a new hi-tech all-wheel drive set-up.

The all-paw grip, suited to the snowy states in the North Amer­i­can mar­ket, also en­ables it to take on the lat­est BMW M5 – and to claim a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.7 se­conds.

Spend $239,611 on the S and you get ex­tra punch (450kW/850Nm), shorter sprints (3.4 se­conds) and stand­out AMG sports seats, ex­haust, 20-inch wheels and elec­tronic rear lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial.

To get it track-ready, you can also spend $9900 for ceramic brake discs.

ON THE ROAD

The E63 has the plush com­fort and all the niceties you get in a mid-range – com­pared with an S-Class or Rolls-Royce – lux­ury car. It’s im­pos­si­ble not to like the new Benz, which seems a lit­tle more re­fined than a 5 Se­ries BMW.

But sum­mon the AMG add-ons and the car be­comes a ram­pag­ing beast that’s al­most too fast for the bumpy coun­try and twisty roads out­side Bathurst. It punches out of cor­ners and thun­ders up to the speed limit so quickly I have to make a con­scious ef­fort for con­trol.

ON THE TRACK

Bathurst is one of the world’s best race­tracks and, sit­ting in the E63 S with its ex­tra out­puts as well as ceramic brakes, I have just the tool for the task.

Every­thing is up a level from the reg­u­lar E63, which is just as well – I have the chance to re­ally wring the car with min­i­mum su­per­vi­sion from the highly trained AMG copi­lots.

Things start with driv­ing ex­er­cises in­clud­ing a bru­tal race start. It’s the eas­i­est set-up I’ve used, de­liv­er­ing a string of sub-4.0 sec­ond launches without feel­ing some­thing in the AWD is about to break.

On track laps, the E63 is truly, won­der­fully, bru­tally quick. It makes a C63 S, also driven on the day, feel slightly slow and dainty and skit­tish.

The AMG E is bolted to the road, with only a touch of front-end push in slow cor­ners, and it feels hero­ically quick across the top of the moun­tain.

It is the best AMG car yet be­cause it can do every­thing. It’s not as ex­otic as the GT-S coupe, or as track fo­cused as the GT-R, but that pair can’t go by the ho­tel af­ter con­quer­ing Bathurst to col­lect the fam­ily and lug­gage for a gen­tle, le­gal, re­lax­ing drive home.

... THEN THERE’S THE S-CLASS VER­SION

Most lux­ury cars turn into plush­buck­ets if you push hard, but not the Mercedes-AMG S63 L.

Still a long-wheel­base flag­ship for pam­per­ing your­self or mak­ing an A-list ar­rival, for a start­ing price of $375,000 the S63 has ex­tra­or­di­nary, en­joy­able mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties.

Leave it in snooze-and-cruise mode and it is

whis­per quiet, with some of the best ma­te­ri­als and fin­ish­ing on the road to­day.

Change the driv­e­line set­tings, lift­ing the sharp­ness of the en­gine, trans­mis­sion and sus­pen­sion, and it can truly boo­gie.

It’s when you go full-on AMG that the S63 be­comes a bril­liant beast, still com­fort­able and re­fined but – with out­puts of 450kW/900Nm – ca­pable of a sledge­ham­mer re­sponse.

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