Review: Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG

Walking around the one and only Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG in the country is something like the calm before the storm. But not just any storm, more a category five hurricane on wheels.

The 430kW/800Nm sledgehammer sedan sits in the pit lane at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway, looking quietly menacing thanks to an aero kit comprising a carbon-trimmed front apron panel punctured by huge gills either side, to help feed the engine and cool monster front brakes. Pumped guards, filled with 19 inch alloys wrapped with fat Continental rubber, bulging side skirts and a subtle bootlid spoiler are joined by a rear diffuser and carbonfibre detailing, sitting between chunky quad exhausts.

Then the 5.5-litre, bi-turbo V8 erupts into life, sounding like Frankenstein’s monster waking up angry after a hard night on the tiles. Somehow AMG’s go-fast division has cracked the code on making its turbocharged V8 sound suitably aggressive, without the muted woofling of previous versions.

In Australia, and other right-hand drive markets, including South Africa and the UK, the E63 will be rear-wheel drive only, where Europe, the US and the rest of the left-hook countries will be offered an all-wheel drive version.

So, the prospect of all that grunt, fed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed ‘Speedshift’ auto transmission (featuring a multi-clutch pack in place of a torque converter for rifle bolt changes), with 3.1km of twisting Sandown blacktop beckoning, is an enticing one.

Inside, the E63 S is a cool mix if black Nappa leather, high gloss black wood trim and brushed metal highlights. The clearly marked instruments are AMG specific, as are the grippy sports front seats, and F1-inspired Alcantara-trimmed wheel.

With the driver-adjustable suspension control tweaked for the track, and the transmission set to the most responsive of its four settings, it’s time to burble out onto the circuit, and the first solid squeeze of the throttle feels like taking an impromptu ride on The Large Hadron Collider.

This is an E-Class far removed from its suit and tie sedan siblings … seriously fast and gloriously loud. Using the race start launch control function, 0-100km/h comes up in 4.1 seconds, and the speed keeps piling on as the rev-counter needle continually surges towards the engine’s 6500rpm ceiling with each up change. On the first hot lap the speedo nudges 240km/h on the back straight.

When it comes to hauling close to 1.8-tonnes of German steel down to a manageable speed, the big ventilated brakes do a stunning job, lap after lap. That said, a monster carbon-ceramic package is optional.

The combination of 255/35 R19 front and 285/30 R19 rubber, as well as a (standard) limited-slip differential, specifically AMG-calibrated steering, and the AMG ‘Ride Control’ sports suspension tune endows the E63 with the ability to point sharply, corner neutrally and get its power down amazingly well.

Rapid cornering is simply a matter of standing on the brakes, keeping the car stable, and tipping it in. Mid-corner grip is vice-like, and the car launches ahead like a beast once you’re straightening up on exit.

The asking price is $249,900, with first customer deliveries scheduled for early 2014. Not a small sum, but Australia is one of the world’s biggest AMG markets, with over 700 examples sold so far this year. There’s no doubt this awesome sedan will make a significant contribution to next year’s tally.

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