2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic+ review, track drive
8th May 2018 5:48 pm
The new E63 is the most powerful version of the Mercedes E-class ever, and it's just gone on sale in India. We got a small taste of what it's capable of at the BIC.
What is it?
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic + name is quite a mouthful, so let's break it down. The AMG in the name tells you it's mad; the 63 in the name tells you it's really mad, and the S in the name is there to tell you the madness is dialled up to 11. This latest E63 S uses AMG's powerhouse of a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, but power is up to a bonkers 612hp and 850Nm! The non-S E63 also sold abroad makes 'only' 571hp.
Coming back to the name, you'll note the 4Matic+ suffix in there. 4Matic is Mercedes speak for all-wheel drive. Yes, like the latest gen of its arch-rival, the BMW M5, the E63 has also made the dramatic shift to all-wheel drive. That was the only way to make all the engine's power usable in everyday driving conditions. The Merc system is rear-biased and it actively transfers power to all four wheels for best traction. But again, just like the M5, the E63's system is also switchable; so you have the option to drive it in full rear-wheel-drive mode too. Mercedes calls it 'Drift mode' leaving no ambiguity about what most owners will (attempt to) use it for. In addition, there are five drive modes and the settings for the ESP to play with, and launch control is standard too.
What's it like on the outside?
First things first, the E63 is based on the standard wheelbase E-class sold abroad and not the extended wheelbase version that's made in India. In effect, the E63 looks tighter and lither than the E we are used to seeing. Another cool detail that distinguishes the AMG is its coupé-like bonnet opening above, rather than inclusive of, the front grille.
Of course, there's the whole host of AMG addenda too, with sportier bumpers, a two-slat design for the grille, sexy 20-inch rims and a lip spoiler and quad exhausts at the back. In all, the E63 S looks every bit like the gymmed-up E-class that it really is.
What's it like on the inside?
The basic design and layout of the dashboard are similar to the standard E-class we get in India, but there are some differences. The instruments cluster, for one, is all digital here, and it does make the driver environment look more new-age and cool. It's a detail that's sure to go down well with AMG's India buyer base whose age on average is, believe it or not, just 30 years! Also unique to the E63 is front-seat ventilation and heating.
At the back, there's visibly a lot less space than the long-wheelbase E-class. But mind you, there's still more than ample room here. Pity, the seatback is a bit upright and doesn't get the recline feature of the long wheelbase E-class either.
What's it like to drive?
Unfortunately, we didn't get much seat time at the E63 S's launch drive at the Buddh International Circuit. Our one-and-a-half hot laps of the track barely scratched the surface of the E63's capabilities. So bear with us. We're just as keen to know how well Drift mode works!
Anyway, in the driving time we had, some things stood out. One, the E63 sounds rather special. There's a deep bass at low revs and the rumble just builds as you rev the engine harder. Two, it's bloody quick. AMG claims a 0-100kph time of an incredible 3.4sec, and the strong pushback at launch did attest to the claim. It's really strong in the mid-range and feels energetic across the entire rev band. And in the manic minutes we had with the car, the nine-speed gearbox also came across as ever-ready for a quick shift.
The steering also felt nicely weighted and there was lots of grip in the corners too, making this car that important bit forgiving for drivers not used to this sort of power. But we'll reserve final judgement of the handling when we get the car for a longer stint. The brakes (steel discs are standard) worked well too, but buyers looking to take their E63 on track should consider the optional ceramic discs that promise fade-free performance.
Should I buy one?
While first impressions from our short but sweet track drive are overwhelmingly positive, a lot of questions remain unanswered for the time being. Is all the power really usable? How does it feel in rear-wheel-drive-only mode? And on our broken roads, will the E63 S be as comfy as a Merc ought to be?
There's also the small question of how the Rs 1.5 crore E63 S compares with the BMW M5 that costs Rs 1.43 crore. So, hold your horses, and wait until we bring the rivals together in a more relatable environment. An epic showdown is guaranteed.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S image gallery