MERCEDESAMG E63 S
Drift mode puts control purely in the hands of the driver
THE E63 S AND NON-S BOTH HAVE THE LATEST iteration of 4Matic+, Mercedes’ all-wheel-drive system, which instead of being predominantly rear-biased as it was before, is fully variable all of the time. On the higher-powered S, 4Matic+ also features a Drift mode, allowing power and torque to be fed to just the rear wheels.
The E63 always sends drive to the rear, and selectively to the front, with an electro-mechanically controlled centre coupling (a compact, multi-plate clutch) shifting drive forwards in a continuously variable way. The amount of torque sent to the front axle – if any – is determined by a complex look-up chart within the all-wheel-drive controller, which receives information from multiple sensors, including those measuring wheel speeds, steering input, throttle position and road speed. The parameters of the torque split are also determined by the drive mode selected.
Shifts between rear- and all-wheel drive are intended to be seamless and invisible, with all-wheel drive apparent only when required. One such scenario is the standing start: In any mode, simply press and hold the brake, then the throttle, then release the brake. 4Matic+ will recognise the situation and the E63 S will set off with total traction, even in the wet.
For the brave/confident, the centre coupling can be deactivated completely, so the E63 S is purely rear-drive. As part of the process to access this Drift mode, the stability control system must be disabled. Control of the E63 is now entirely in the hands of the driver, unlike with the Focus RS’S Drift mode, which retains some electronic intervention. In the E63, it’s your right foot, the mechanical limited-slip rear diff and the grip of a pair of 295/30 R20 tyres that determine grip or slip angle.
Engine V8, 3982cc, twin-turbo Power 604bhp @ 5750-6500rpm Torque 627lb ft @ 2500-4500rpm 0-62mph 3.4sec (claimed) Top speed 155mph (limited) Weight 1880kg (326bhp/ton) Basic price £87,375 evo rating