Wild on One Hand, Composed on the Other. Bipolar Motoring at its Finest

Back in the day when paper was still a thing, every now and again a new car would every now and again come along to stop the presses. It was good enough to hold back the magazine to squeeze a crucial story in. It’s different now — this internet makes it so much easier. But just like in the old days, everyone just downed tools when a Mercedes-AMG E 63 S arrives

Down Tools for a Mid-exec Super Saloon

Mercedes promised on launch that this manic AMG E 63 S would reset the mid-executive super saloon benchmark. An even ‘more dynamic, sportier, more luxurious and the most advanced’ car, it certainly starred on that launch. And it now seems just as good after a week with it in the ‘real’ world.

Slated as an extensive facelift, the latest nipped and tucked E 63 S ‘brings appealing new lines and an exclusive, even higher quality to the cabin’. In this AMG get-up it gets a GT-like nose nodding tribute to classic ‘50s Benz racers, flatter headlamps and flared arches to fit the bigger wheels and tyres.

Step inside across the AMG monocled threshold panels and you’re greeted by an all-new latest generation AMG Performance multifunction steering wheel. Its latest-spec touch controls are now split into distinct areas of control on its four piano black spokes. To help run both this Merc’s 10.25-inch MBUX display screens on the widescreen cockpit. That’s all backed by delightful little LED-lit ‘manettino’ switches below. That change colour as you play real-life play station.

A Splendid Space to Drive

Backed by latest generation augmented reality ‘Hey Mercedes’ multimedia with video navigation images, it all takes a little time to become familiar with. But very soon becomes an absolute pleasure to use.

E 63 S is superbly built inside and out. Trimmed in fine Nappa leather, the striking dash has a metallic strip with four cooling bezels running under those high-quality AMG-specific MBUX displays and fascia. It’s all outlined by mood lighting under a quality black hood lining, darkened door sill panels and mats. The brushed stainless pedals have rubber studs, and we thoroughly enjoyed the new energizing seat kinetics that use music, lighting and massage modes to keep you happy.

It’s What Lurks Under the Hood…

But that’s all just trivia. This car is really all about what lurks under the hood. The handmade double-twin-scroll turbocharged 3982 cc die-cast alloy block and head V8 E 63 S churns out 450 kW between 5,750 and 6,500 rpm. Aided and abetted by 850 Nm of twist between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm.

It’s good for a claimed 3.3 second 100 km/h trot and a massive 185 mph. E 63 S perhaps unsurprisingly obliterated those claims in our tests. It oh-so-nearly broke 3 seconds to 60 and ran an 11-second quarter mile. Man, that’s fast! That’s ever so slightly off its arch enemy BMW M5 Competition, which managed 2.98 seconds to 100 and an eleven-dead quarter mile at 205 km/h on our strip though. But that’s too close to mention.

E 63 S turns all four wheels (most of the time) through its AMG Speedshift MCT 9-speed automatic. The ‘box boasts short shift times and fast multiple downshifts, while a double de-clutching function adds an emotive gear shifting experience. It even makes pops and bangs in the louder bareback mode.

Delectable 5-spoke Forged Alloys

Talking wheels, those 20-inch AMG twin 5-spoke forged alloys are delectable. 9.5J by 20 rims in 295/30 ZR 20 rear summertime high-performance Pirelli P-Zeros frame internally ventilated and perforated compound 360 x 36 mm brake discs with fire engine red six-piston fixed callipers up front. And 10J by 20 wheels wrapped in 265/35 ZR 20s house 402 x 29 mm discs in single-pot floating clamps at the rear. There’s a fresh rear bumper, split tail lamps and a new boot lid too.

E 63 S has Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ Individual and Race driving modes. Add 3-stage ESP; Comfort, Sport and Sport+ for the new three-chamber Adaptive Damping air suspension for an exemplary blend of driving dynamics and ride characteristics. All modes can of course be switched to manual. And then this AMG Performance 4Matic+ AWD now also includes a purely rear-wheel drive Drift Mode like its fierce rival BMW M5. And that’s where the fun really begins!

Not too good for those expensive rear tyres, this hooligan bit is hugely entertaining. But forget the tyres for a second. Engage your play station mind to help paddle through the complex ritual of finding the correct fully liberated rear-drive only mode. And prepare to play. First be sure that you’re up to it though. Otherwise get someone who can, to take you for that spin.

The Bareback E 63 S Outs its True Character

With all the nannies extinguished, the bareback E 63 S outs its true character. Find a little space away from the street and other traffic, add a little talent and it’s an absolute hoot play hooligan to the tune of a screaming biturbo V8. Accompanied by vast plumes of white rubber smoke pouring from tortured, burning rear tyres…

Yes, that 625 foot-pounds of twist makes four-wheel drifting is an absolute synch. Not the easiest art to master, too slow and no drift. Too fast and you just spin out! Drifting calls for a delicate balance that will only be mastered by time in the seat. And many tyres, too. But if you’re adept at this sort of driving behaviour, just thump your right foot to the floor and get on with it! Hell, you can even write your name longhand in skid mark on the tarmac. If you’re brave enough!

Maintaining a Certain AMG Credibility

So, you think hooning an E 63 S is not part of the Mercedes ethos, then? Well, believe it or not, it’s all there to maintain a certain AMG cred. Dumbing this car down was never an option when they added all-wheel drive to E 63 a few years back. Then AMG boss Tobias Moers — remember him — he’s now Sebastian Vettel’s boss over at Aston Martin — insisted that all this would ensure that the cars remained true to that purist AMG promise. And we absolutely love it!

Getting down to brass tacks then, the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S comes in at R2.4-million. Our tester was fully loaded. Which means more for the Driver Assistance Package. It adds Active kit like Distronic Distance, Evasive Steering, Blind Spot, Lane Keeping and Change, Cross-Traffic and route-based Speed and Limit Assistants. It also includes Active Braking with Congestion and Emergency Restart Stop and Go. In short, there’s not much this car cannot do for you.

Ours also had LED Intelligent Adaptive Highbeam headlamps, the Sun Protection Package with manual rear-side and power rear sunshades and a cabin-air and fragrance system, so It all adds up quickly.

E 63 S is a True Supercar in Disguise

However, when you figure that even a R4-million 2.7-second 0-100 km/h 911 Turbo S, a five and a half-bar 2.9-second F8 Tributo or a six-million rand 3.3-second Huracan Evo need to tread very lightly, this traditional sedan soon starts to become a far more compelling prospect.

E 63 S has all the extra everyday advantages, luxury and space to go, and it will even make you look good at the local drift track. It’s a hell of a lot of car for the money. Of course, it will forever be lumped together with that R2.3-bar M5 Competition, but from what we hear, a good number of people who own one, will own the other along the way, anyway.

All of which leaves us to conclude that if you have just over a hundred grand to drop on an ultimate sedan, there’s not much more ultimate than this Mercedes-AMG E-Class E63 S 4Matic+. It’s macho, it’s fast and it’s fantastic. Toggle all the right switches red and you have an incredible car under you — a man’s car through and through. But driven just as it fires up, your missus can just as easily tootle down to the shops in it in superb style. That’s Mercedes-AMG at its best! – Michele Lupini

Images: Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-AMG E-Class E63 S 4Matic+
Engine: 450 kW 850 Nm 4-litre biturbo petrol V8
Drive: 9-speed automatic AWD
0-60 km/h:        1.59 sec
0-100 km/h:       3.18 sec
0-120 km/h:       4.25 sec
0-160 km/h:       7.12 sec
400m:             11.1 sec @ 202 km/h
80-120 km/h:      1.98 sec
120-160 km/h:     2.87 sec
VMax:             300 km/h
Fuel:             11.6 l/100 km
CO2:              267 g/km
Warranty/Service: 2y unl./5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R2.436M
RATED:            9
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