My daughter and her friend were obviously impressed with the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S during a recent shuttle to the airport. “This is the nicest Uber ride I’ve had – ever!” the friend quipped.
But they don’t know the half of it. Sure, it has a sleek new look this year. And they loved the beautifully sculpted Nappa leather seats, extensive carbon fiber weave and elegant wood trim. They likely were amazed by the high-end Burmester sound, and commented on the sweet fragrance wafting through the cabin.
But, girls, it’s also one of the fastest and most powerful luxury sport sedans in the world. It has the fiery thrust of a hot rod, it even has drift mode and launch control… Well, OK, go catch your plane if you must.
The E63 S has a bold, new front end with an oversize three-point-star logo and huge air intakes to feed the beast inside. Crisp creases mark the hood and sides, and it has broader fenders to accommodate the wider tires with black forged wheels. At the rear, squared quad exhaust tips spew groans and crackles like a blazing barn.
It’s the most powerful E-Class ever built – the E63 S even joins the elite 600-plus horsepower club. The AMG-handcrafted 4.0-liter V-8 has a pair of turbochargers that push output to 603 hp and 627 pound-feet of torque.
Obvious by now, it is not for the timid; it wants to run and you’ll feel it the moment you touch the accelerator. It will jackrabbit to 60 mph in a mere 3.3 seconds, with launch control engaged. That is crazy fast, neck-jarring, eye-opening fast and should be done under controlled conditions, of course. Top speed is factory-capped at 186 mph.
Launch Control prevents wheel spin during strong acceleration. After you dial into Race mode, put your feet on the gas and brake, then just pop the brake when the instrument panel flashes red. (That means things are going to get red hot.)
In Drift mode, 100 percent of the torque is shifted to the rear wheels, though it’s a chore that starts by switching on Race mode and switching off stability control. Might want to wait for rally day for that.
Regulating the power is a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and it’s distributed by a new all-wheel drive (called 4Matic+). It is a variable torque system which sends most of the torque to the rear during heavy acceleration and cornering, but redirects some to the front when needed.
For the majority who will commute rather than race, know that the E63’s sport-tuned suspension means a firmer ride – even in Comfort mode. However, “dynamic” engine mounts do help minimize vibrations from the drivetrain. Steering is responsive and nicely weighted around town and on the highway.
Another plus: this Hulk Hogan of an engine is actually more economical this year, with credit going to a new cylinder-deactivation system. The V-8 becomes a mild-mannered V-4 when the extra push isn’t needed, which means better mileage and a quieter ride.
Still, nobody will brag about mileage figures: EPA numbers of 15 mpg city, 22 highway, are modest enough but they’re even optimistic for anyone who likes to drive with, uh, vigor.
Inside, the E63 S continues to dazzle. Dual displays of performance data and infotainment unite to form a broad panel of instruments. Its racy style is accented with a flat-bottom performance wheel. Interior trims come in carbon fiber, wood and metal.
Seats, adorned with the AMG logo, offer numerous adjustments and massage features but they require entering Mercedes’ sometimes-overwhelming COMAND system.
While you’re there, you can also find the ambient LED lighting choices which are mind-boggling. There are 64 colors from which to choose – several can be used at the same time to create a custom look.
The 1,450-watts of Burmester sound emanate from 23 speakers; the subwoofer is in the trunk. Five sound profiles are offered, from live concert to easy listening, and sound can actually be fine-tuned toward a single passenger. It works.
On a more practical feature, let’s talk trunk space. It’s on the tight side, compared to its foes from Cadillac, Audi and BMW, with only 13 cubic feet. That’s enough for a set of golf clubs or a couple of suitcases, and the rear seats can be folded down from inside the trunk to open more space.
E63 S has plenty of advanced-tech safety features but many of them are optional, somewhat disappointing for a $100,000-plus vehicle. An AMG Premium package ($3,600) includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings and lane-keep assist.
There’s an awful lot of power, punch and tech in the E63 S, and it’ll take much more time than a jaunt to the airport to get your fill of it, let alone boast about it to daughters and friends.