Mercedes-AMG E63 saloon review
"The Mercedes-AMG E63 is one of the fastest and most advanced saloon cars ever made, as well as an accomplished all-rounder"
- Outstanding performance
- Excellent build quality
- Very comfortable
- Pricey to run
- 'S' model hard to justify
The powerful, luxury AMG versions of the Mercedes E-Class have built an impressive reputation since the E63 name was first introduced in 2007. The latest version is the fastest yet, bringing incredible performance to this large executive saloon car.
This version of the E63 has a sophisticated 4.0-litre V8 with two turbochargers to produce 604bhp. This means it can go from 0-62mph in a supercar-like 3.4 seconds. Top speed is limited to 186mph.
Although any car with over 600bhp will be fast from 0-62mph, part of why this new version is so quick is the four-wheel-drive system. It means the car has great traction off the line. The suspension is stiff, which also keeps the tyres pressed into the road, and while there are several driving modes that can soften or stiffen the car up, you’ll not forget the car’s sporty intentions even in the Comfort mode.
Yet the E63 is still a comfortable place to spend time because, like any other Mercedes E-Class, the interior is luxurious and well built, with an impressive array of high-tech features. There’s loads of space inside as well, so it’s a practical car as well as a sporty one.
Recent updates to the car include a few subtle exterior changes, but most importantly you now get Mercedes’ latest media system, which includes loads of hi-tech features. A new steering wheel is included too.
There’s now only one version of the Mercedes-AMG E63, that being the ‘S’. The non-S model was removed from the line-up with the recent facelift, leaving the 604bhp version as the sole model in the range.
That means the current E63 is better-equipped than before but also more expensive. It’s even more appealing to those who can afford this incredible all-round performance car.
MPG, running costs & CO2
While clever cylinder-deactivation technology in the latest 4.0-litre V8 engine means it’s more economical than its predecessor, 23.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 277g/km mean that the E63 is still a very thirsty machine.
In fact, if you drive it hard on the road it will struggle to reach that figure, and if you use it on track then you’ll be lucky to see an economy figure in the double digits.
It’s hardly surprising that the E63 slots into the top 37% Benefit-in-Kind band, and the high purchase price means it’ll make for a very expensive company car. Private buyers will pay £460 for yearly road tax until their E63 turns six years old, at which point the yearly rate drops to £150.
Beyond the cost of buying, fuelling and taxing your E63, there are many other costs to bear in mind. Insurance for the E63 will be very expensive so we strongly recommend you check insurance costs before making a decision to buy.
Wear and tear will cost significantly more than for less athletic models in the range – those big tyres will wear more quickly under enthusiastic driving, and AMG brake pads and discs don’t come cheap, either. One plus is that routine servicing isn’t required any more frequently than for any other E-Class, but service parts will be a little more expensive.
Engines, drive & performance
The key to what makes the E63 special is the hand-assembled engine under the bonnet. It’s a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 petrol that produces 604bhp. It sounds a lot bigger than it is, too, emitting a distinctly old-fashioned muscle-car yell that many will find addictive.
And, not only is the latest AMG engine more hi-tech than the 5.5-litre of old, it also adopts four-wheel drive – something previously denied to the UK market. The system is named 4MATIC+ and can continually vary the power distribution between the front and rear wheels. By adjusting the settings, you can even set the car up as a rear-wheel drive – ‘drift’ mode does just this, although it also disables many of the car’s driver aids and makes keeping control rather difficult.
Four-wheel drive means this E63 feels remarkably wieldy and isn’t intimidating to drive. You can trickle gently along urban streets, or push the accelerator down a little more when you reach the city limits without fear of losing control. It’s even smooth at high speed, thanks to ‘ride control’ air suspension. This system was recently updated to give a bigger difference between the softest and hardest modes, but it’s still fairly subtle and even ‘Comfort’ mode is firm at low speed.
Although the car is at its most relaxed in ‘comfort’ mode, putting the Dynamic Select system in ‘sport’ refocuses your enjoyment on the fun that 604bhp can unlock. It adjusts the suspension, traction control and electronic stability systems and the way the accelerator responds to a point where the E63’s heavy weight is largely forgotten.
The steering is sharp and accurate, there’s barely any lean in corners and – most importantly – you always feel in control. This is partly thanks to the four-wheel-drive system, while an electronic limited-slip differential in the rear axle ensures that power is not needlessly diverted away from a wheel that starts to spin, so the E63 always feels like a rear-wheel-drive car. There’s an even more responsive Sport+ mode, too, but the Sport setting unlocks loads of fun without badly compromising comfort.
If you make use of its launch-control system, the E63 can roar from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds.
Interior & comfort
The Mercedes-AMG E63 was updated recently with a host of interior changes but the fundamentals are the same as before: luxurious seats, leather upholstery, high-quality materials and loads of hi-tech kit.
One of the big changes was the addition of the new ‘MBUX’ media setup, which has a pair of 12.3-inch screens, one in use as dials and the other a touchscreen in the centre. It features augmented reality sat-nav (overlaying directions on a live feed from a camera at the front of the car) and a 360-degree parking camera.
There’s also a new steering wheel with two dials that give you instant control of the driving modes and other features, such as the active exhaust and the suspension stiffness.
The full name of the single specification you can now buy is the Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4MATIC+ Night Edition Premium Plus. It comes with a driving experience at Mercedes-Benz World to teach you some driving techniques.
Mercedes has simplified its range so your only choice with the new model is what colour you want.
Mercedes talks about the E Class as a ‘business limousine’ and the E63 performs brilliantly in both this capacity and as a sports car. Passengers are well insulated from road and wind noise and because the engine is so powerful, it barely has to work to keep the car at cruising pace on the motorway, resulting in a very serene experience for people inside.
The adjustable suspension means the ride can be made softer for long journeys without compromising handling when you want to enjoy a twisty road, but it doesn't commit to the 'touring' role quite as well as the BMW M5. The roar of those huge tyres never abates and you'll always feel a jolt when the E63 encounters a pothole.
Practicality & boot space
The E63 is hugely fast, but it’s still a large saloon car that can comfortably accommodate rear-seat passengers and provide them with plenty of storage space too. Both head and legroom in the back are very good.
The only practicality compromise is that the rear diffuser, along with the sports exhaust, means you can’t use the E63 for towing.
Just like the standard E-Class saloon, the E63 has a decent-sized boot at 540 litres. What’s more, it’s a useful shape and has a big lid, making it easy to load. There’s also an estate version, which has a vast 640-litre load area, making it one of the fastest ways there is to take rubbish to the dump.
Reliability & safety
The E63 is a very safe car though, with the standard E-Class receiving the maximum five-star rating when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP. Not only does the E63 get all the same safety technology, but it also has four-wheel drive and wide tyres for more grip, plus very powerful AMG Performance brakes for increased stopping power.