REFINED MEETS RAMPAGING
AMG builds on rock-solid foundations to produce a prodigious E-Class pair
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.