Drift mode puts con­trol purely in the hands of the driver

Evo - - EXPERT TUITION - John Barker

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

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