2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S facelift review, test drive
Published on Jul 26, 2021 11:03:00 AM
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Mercedes-AMG E63 S: what is it?
The updated E63 S super-sedan sits at the very core of AMG’s now vast portfolio. A car that can trace its origins all the way back to the groundbreaking, V8-powered W124 Hammer of the mid-80s, this updated version gets an all-new nose, changes to the cabin and a recalibrated suspension system to help keep it current.
On the outside, this car gets the new, wider AMG ‘Panamericana’ grille that reduces drag and wind noise. There are new, more compact headlights that also help change the look of the nose, and at the rear, it gets flatter tail-lights and a larger, more effective diffuser. New and more aerodynamic alloy wheels are also part of the package, and they now come with a wider rim edge for better airflow.
Inside, the new E63 S gets the latest MBUX infotainment system, a new touchpad on the centre console instead of a rotary dial, and there’s the fabulous new AMG steering wheel with the twin horizontal spokes that features haptic controls . . . .similar to the one on the new S-Class. The racy sport-bucket seats have been replaced by more comfortable ones that provide active dynamic support via inflatable bolsters, and the front seats are also ventilated and have a massage function. The new E63 S also gets AMG Dynamic driver aids, which allow the driver to select driver levels ranging from Basic all the way through to Master. In addition, the new car also includes fun software that allows you to time yourself on a circuit and you can even conduct your own ‘virtual’ drag race via Christmas tree lights that pop up on the touchscreen.
Key features that remain unchanged include the 612hp, 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 that puts out a chest-thumping 850Nm of torque, the four-wheel-drive system that can send 100 percent of the torque to the rear wheels (4MATIC+). This updated car also gets Merc’s three-chamber air-suspension and the setup has been made a bit more supple in ‘Comfort’. The rubber suspension bushes are now more absorbent, the hydraulic dampers are less reactive in some modes and the dynamic engine mounts have been retuned as well. What's also different, and significantly so, is that the car’s 9-speed automatic gearbox now uses a wet step-off clutch, instead of a torque converter. This is said to be both lighter and quicker to react.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S: what’s it like to drive?
First impressions are of a car that clearly feels more supple over bumps. Whereas the earlier car transmitted a fair amount of the shocks up from the road, this one rounds off most medium-sized bumps nicely, with the suspension even working more silently. It still thuds through some of the larger bumps, there is some amount of road noise and there is a bit of movement over broken sections, but overall ride is clearly better. And this, in our conditions, make the E63 S more useable on an everyday basis.
Then there's the flip side, the supercar matching performance. Set in Race mode, with the entire high-speed bowl at NATRAX in Indore to play with, the updated E63 S quickly reminds me why it is so revered. Responses from the twin-turbo V8 are, in a word, exceptional. Put your foot down and you just launch towards the horizon, the 'G' forces pinning you back in your seat. The angry V8 rips through the powerband with that familiar AMG growl and, as I cycle up through the gears, performance feels just relentless.
Speed is also something the E63 S is comfortable with. On my first run around the 11.3km banked oval, I barely notice 200kph fly-by; such is the performance. The E63 S feels as steady as a rock on the banking as the speedo crosses 240, but then, as I climb past 270kph, I experience some buffeting. Things settle down after a couple of seconds, so I get back hard on the gas. Now, everything feels double speed, and then as we transition smoothly off the 2km-long banking and onto the straight, 290kph comes up. As I keep my foot down, I see 311kph on the speedo (a real speed of 300kph), before I hit a soft limiter. Ever wonder why they call these cars super-sedans?
The car feels even quicker on the highway. Short bursts of flat-out acceleration are all I can manage before we hit warp speed and overtaking feels both effortless and very safe. To pass someone, all I have to do is identify a gap and squeeze the accelerator . . . .and I'm past in a blur, and the excellent grip and strong brakes make the move back into the lane feel relaxed and easy. And then what keeps me grinning, every time I spot a gap, is the combination of the instant response and muscular power deliver.
What also helps is that the updated 9-speed gearbox works superbly in sync with the engine. It punches though the gears urgently when you are in a hurry, delivers quick downshifts when you ask for them, and then drive it in a relaxed manner in 'Comfort' and it even feels smooth and shifts seamlessly between gears, some amount of hesitation only felt on occasion at low speeds.
This new version of the E63 S, however, isn’t quite as loud as the earlier one. Yes you have the pops and bangs, and that fruity AMG growl is there too. Still, it is a bit more subdued compared to the earlier car, and that's down to new, stricter noise restrictions in Europe and new, more restrictive emission control devices placed in the exhaust system.
While AMG claim a 0-100kph time of 3.4sec, we unfortunately didn't test it as launch control wasn't activated on the car. The E63 S needs to be run in past 1,500km for some of it to work.
We also got to put the updated E63 S through its paces on the tight handling track at NATRAX in Indore. It clearly is a heavy car, at 2,010kg (kerb), and you can feel the weight of the big engine and four-wheel-drive hardware. Despite this, the E63 S also feels happy attacking corners. This is especially true when you select Sport+ or Race, where the air suspension tightens up, the 4MATIC+ system allows for more slip at the rear and steering weight and responses are sharpened. It still doesn't feel as agile as the GT four-door and isn't exactly light on its feet, but it has loads of grip and remains composed even when you hurl it into tight corners and evil switchbacks. And then what leaves a lasting impression is that it feels incredible locked in and comfortable on longer, faster corners, its real forte. Of course, if you want to do some drifts and slides, the S even has a 'Drift Mode' where it becomes a purely rear-wheel-drive car, with the ESP is switched off. A system that does lend a helping hand, however, is AMG Dynamics – it offers help by allowing you to access performance via many levels such as Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master.
Performance apart, what's interesting to note is that there is no 'Eco' mode on this car. What you do get, however, is cylinder deactivation, which automatically runs the engine on just four cylinders when there is no load. You can even set a 'Gliding' function in 'Individual' settings that decouples the transmission when the car is rolling forward, reducing fuel wastage.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S: what’s it like on the inside?
The AMG is a Mercedes first, and that means you get all the trappings of luxury. New on this car is the updated MBUX system with connected tech and the 'Hey Mercedes' voice prompt, you are sat comfortably on large seats with active bolsters, the seats are cooled, and you can even use the massage function when you are in the mood. What also works well and gels nicely with the character of the car is the comfortable and attractive new AMG steering wheel, where you also get new rotary shortcut knobs and galvanised paddle shifters.
Since the E63 S is built on the regular-wheelbase E-Class, legroom at the rear is sufficient but clearly less than the regular long-wheelbase car sold here. In addition, the seat is also placed a bit lower. Once you are seated in the back, however, comfort levels are actually very good. The backrest is very supportive and seat cushioning is spot on, and since the massive panoramic sunroof brightens up the rear, it feels quite spacious as well. Optional extras you can spec your car with include AMG performance seats, a high-end, 3D Burmester sound system and ceramic brakes that resist fade better.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S: should you buy one?
When Merc launched the AMG E63 S back in 2018, we were blow away by its combination of hardcore performance and everyday practicality. What AMG has done with this facelift is take it to the next level and make it more comfortable. It now handles our bad roads with greater ease and feels more comfortable, it is better specified and more lavishly equipped, and then performance has taken a step forward too. The updated gearbox is quicker, AMG's Dynamic modes allow you easier access when it comes to on-limit handling, and then there's the raw performance of the twin-turbo V8 coupled with the updated 4MATIC+ system. The new car costs approximately Rs 20 lakh more, at Rs 1.70 crore (ex-showroom), and that is a big step as well, but what the new E63 S delivers is a car with a wider envelope, one that specifically offers more comfort and everyday usability. And that's exactly what performance car buyers in India will appreciate.
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