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PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG E63 S – Driven

It’s the stuff of which nightmares are made.

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is a growling, snorting, roaring monster designed to haunt your dreams.

While the E Class upon which it is based is a sedate, elegant luxury car, the folks at AMG have more sinister intentions for the midsize car. It starts under the hood, where one AMG engine builder hand-assembles a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with direct gasoline injection. That 603-horsepower heart puts power to the ground at all four wheels via a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and will do the zero-to-60 sprint in 3.3 seconds.

Like I said, it’s a monster.

Design Notes


2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S - Driven - image 770456
“The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is based on the 10th generation of the E Class, Mercedes’ midsize luxury contender”

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is based on the 10th generation of the E Class, Mercedes’ midsize luxury contender. It’s a classic sedan, with a three-box design and wheels pushed out to its corners. Mercedes-Benz says it has “sculpted elegance.” I’d agree with that.

The front is dominated by Mercedes’ shield grille and an enormous Three-Pointed Star logo. Strong creases flow from that grille up the hood toward the windshield, while an AMG-specific front fascia features extra-large air intakes to feed the beastly engine.

The side-view of the Mercedes-AMG E63 S is dominated by a long, flowing crease led by the headlight lens. That crease bisects both door handles on its way to the rear of the car. AMG-specific wheels — there are five different styles available — and enormous ventilated brake discs with big, brightly painted calipers are the only real tip-off that this is not your average E Class.

From the rear, the Mercedes-AMG E63 S has the elegant E Class taillights, but also has a subtle lip spoiler on top of the trunk lid and quad square exhaust tips set within a rear diffuser. The meaty tires come into focus from the rear if you’re paying attention. They’re 10 inches wide in the rear, 9.5 inches wide up front.


2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S - Driven - image 770486
“The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is dominated by large twin TFT displays that serve as both gauge cluster and infotainment head unit.”

Inside, the Mercedes-AMG E63 S is dominated by large twin TFT displays that serve as both gauge cluster and infotainment head unit. They look like one large piece of glass that runs across half the dashboard, and it wows passengers. I likened it to a glass cockpit in an aircraft.

Seats in my test car were AMG-specific but were not all that different from the already excellent seats found in other E Class sedans. Mostly the stitching of the leather seat covers was a bit different, and there was an AMG logo inset on the front seat backrests. I appreciated that the front buckets were not as hard as the Recaro seats I experienced in the smaller CLA45 AMG. They had heating, cooling, and even several types of massage.

Drive Notes


2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S - Driven - image 770497
“The twin-turbos on the 4.0-liter V8 spool up quickly and make a flat torque curve for the 627 lb-ft lurking under the hood”

You’re not ready for the things this car can do.

Or at least I wasn’t. The engine fired up with a hearty cough and settled into an intimidating, low rumble when I pressed the big, silver start button on the dash. The muscle-car soundtrack is a foreshadowing of things to come.

The uninitiated should probably take it easy on the throttle the first time they slide behind the wheel of an AMG E63 S. Those 603 horses want to run. The twin-turbos on the 4.0-liter V8 spool up quickly and make a flat torque curve for the 627 lb-ft lurking under the hood. Not much can out-accelerate the E63 S at your favorite interstate on-ramp.

The downside of having all that power on-tap is there’s really nowhere to use it on public highways without endangering yourself or others on the highway — or your driving privileges. That 3.3-second zero-to-60 time is no joke. The engine emits an authoritative backfire each time the nine-speed DCT shifts during hard acceleration. Testing the E63 S on a closed course, the acceleration blurred my eyes, my brain unable to keep up with how quickly the speed was accumulating. Amassing three-digit speeds is almost too easy.


2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S - Driven - image 770454
“Mercedes’ smart cruise control proved to be a wonderful companion — a leash to rein in the monster on highway jaunts”

Case-in-point: I needed to get around some joker who didn’t know how to use cruise control on the interstate. I had my cruise set at 75 mph, and every time I started to pass his rusty Honda, he would speed up. With traffic behind me in the passing lane, I eased my right foot into the throttle to complete the pass. When I glanced down at the speedometer after completing the pass, I was doing 92 mph. The E63 S wasn’t even breathing hard.

Thus, Mercedes’ smart cruise control proved to be a wonderful companion — a leash to rein in the monster on highway jaunts. Pull back on the cruise stalk twice, and the car automatically adjusted itself to the speed limit according to information in the navigation system, including whenever the speed limit changed. That was handy for driving in an unfamiliar town.

Another good thing to have when driving in an unfamiliar town was Mercedes’ autonomous emergency braking. While I was searching for a driveway in a crowded resort area, someone stopped short in front of me. If not for the autonomous braking system, I would have rear-ended that person and done some very expensive damage to the $113,000 Mercedes-AMG E63S.

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S has a raucous engine note, but I noticed the car was loud in other ways. Much like the CLA45 AMG, the E63 S let a lot of road noise into the cabin. I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of AMG trimming cabin insulation in the name of weight savings, or high-performance tires, or some combination of those and other factors. It was the least Mercedes-like thing about the car,

The ride wasn’t very Mercedes-like, either. It’s harsh, even in “Comfort” mode. The E63 S has a suspension setup that allows it to handle like few other cars can, but there’s definitely a trade-off made in ride comfort. On a track or a glassy-smooth ribbon of twisty-turny pavement, I would enjoy this suspension and the trick adjustability Mercedes included. But on pockmarked highways, there were plenty of moments where I winced.


2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S - Driven - image 770477
“Mercedes-Benz has innovative infotainment controls”

Mercedes-Benz has innovative infotainment controls. Touch-sensitive buttons on the left and right spokes of the steering wheel operated kind of like tiny laptop touchpads. The one on the right spoke controlled options on the infotainment screen (which is located to the right of the driver), and the pad on the left spoke controlled options on the gauge cluster screen. It was intuitive to use and allowed me to do just about anything I wanted to do without removing my hands from the wheel.

Thankfully, Mercedes-Benz does not fall into the same trap as some other automakers with regard to HVAC. Simple rocker switches on the dash adjust temperature, fan speed, and other settings. At first glance, I thought it might be necessary to navigate to an HVAC screen within the infotainment system to adjust the heating and cooling. I was glad to find that was not the case, upon closer inspection.

Finally, a word on fuel consumption: It should come as no surprise that an engine this powerful will have a hearty appetite for premium unleaded. The onboard trip computer registered just a few tenths over 20 MPG on the highway. Overall, I saw 18 MPG in mixed driving. A trip to Nashville, about 100 miles from my home, cost me $43 in 93-octane dino juice.

Competitors

This is an expensive, exclusive segment to be playing in. For the ballers who can afford to drop six figures on a midsize luxury sedan, however, here are a couple of competitive comparisons:

BMW M5


2018 BMW M5 - image 727588

The legendary BMW M5 has a slight displacement advantage on the Mercedes-AMG E63 S (4.4 liters vs. 4.0) but makes about the same power as the E63 S, turning in 600 horses. However, the M5 has a torque deficit compared to the E63 S (553 lb-ft vs 625 lb-ft). The Bimmer makes up for it by being slightly lighter than the E63 S, and by delivering its torque over a broader spread starting at just 1,800 RPM.

The M5 is aimed squarely at that big Three-Pointed Star on the nose of the E63 S. Both cars start just a few dollars north of $100,000. Both cars have twin-turbo V8s. Both are great fun to drive on curvy roads or on the track. Both will drink a lot of fuel on their way to helping you amass a stack of “speeding awards,” as truck drivers call them. In raw performance terms, these two brutes are very close competitors.

The BMW’s interior lacks the glass cockpit design of the E63 S, but it will wow passengers in other ways. BMW iDrive has its own appeal, and BMW’s Aragon Merino leather is fantastic.

This is a hard decision for those who are not brand-loyal. It may ultimately come down to which one your eye likes better.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M5.

Audi RS7 Performance


2016 Audi RS 7 Sportback Performance
- image 652300

Mercedes has another German rival in this field: the Audi RS7. While the regular RS7 lacks the horsepower punch, at just a tiche over 500 horsepower, the Performance version of the car gets a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 engine with 605 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. That puts it in the same league as the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and the BMW M5, with an Audi-quoted top track speed of 190 MPH and zero-to-60 time of 3.6 seconds.

The RS7 looks distinctive, with its silhouette displaying a short rear overhang giving away its liftback design. That extra dose of practicality will be appreciated by those who actually use the car to transport more than a couple of bags of groceries.

Inside, Audi offers plenty of wow-worthy features. The sporty seats are nice to look at and sit on, with quilted honeycomb-stitch leather accents and bolstering in all the right places. The infotainment system has Audi’s MMI Touch handwriting recognition feature, which is both a neat party trick and a useful feature to use when looking up someone from your contacts list or a destination on the nav screen.

Like the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and the BMW M5, the starting price for this hot Audi sedan is above the six-figure threshold. It’s worth comparing if either of the others is on your shopping list.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi RS7 Performance.

Tesla Model S P100D


2017 Tesla Model S - image 721121

Here’s the weird one. For those unafraid of doing things differently, the Tesla Model S could be a real competitor to the Mercedes-AMG E63S or any of the other competitors here.

Some tests say the Model S P100D gets to 60 quicker than the E63 S, and that the all-electric Tesla also accelerates faster during roll-on passing maneuvers. Its quicker launch time gets it down the quarter mile quicker than the Merc, though the German super-sedan has a slightly faster trap speed once it crosses the line.

There’s a lot to be said here about Tesla’s build quality, or perhaps more accurately, quality control. The internet is full of reports from disappointed Tesla owners and even autojournalists who have seen Teslas at international auto shows with unimpressive, uneven panel gaps and shut lines. That’s not to mention reports from some outlets that show the cars’ batteries may get tired quickly if the Model S is driven in anger.

But there’s also a lot to be said about the youth of the company, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the difference in image a Tesla bestows upon its owner compared to any of the fuel-swilling entries listed above. For a certain kind of person, the Model S is the kind of ecologically responsible executive road-rocket they can feel good about owning.

As for interior and technology? Tesla positions itself as a technology company almost as much as an automobile manufacturer. The huge tablet-like touchscreen in the middle of the dash is the stuff of sci-fi dreams.

While the European luxury performance sedan segment is stronger than ever, with faster, better cars than ever, Tesla is trying to convince us that the old guard is just that: old, and guarding a powertrain technology whose time has passed.

Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model S P100D.

Conclusion


2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S - Driven - image 770458

Mercedes-AMG E63 S is a true monster of a midsize luxury sedan. It’s a six-figure status symbol that also happens to be superb to drive.

Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

References

Mercedes-Benz E-Class


2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 - image 692880

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S.


2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe - image 698223

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes E-Class.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

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