2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon
Nearly 10 years have passed since a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG wagon with a snorting 507-hp 6.2-liter V-8 was the undisputed hero of our Surprise Speed Tournament, in which we identified five unlikely pairs of automobiles that, based on our testing, could run neck and neck from zero to 60 mph and/or through the quarter-mile. That 2007 E63 wagon’s remarkable 4.0-second 60-mph sprint and 12.5-second quarter-mile at 115 mph would likely have shocked the cocksure driver of the then new Audi R8 supercar, who would’ve suffered the added indignity of watching the wagon pull farther and farther ahead past the quarter until reaching its electronically limited maximum velocity of 155 mph. Surprise, indeed.
Were we to revisit that story concept using current models, the E63 wagon would once again be a headliner. For 2018, the draggin’ wagon is more brutal than ever; the E63 is offered solely in S form, which means Mercedes-AMG’s “hot-V” twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 produces 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. Those monstrous totals are distributed via AMG’s performance-tuned 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system and nine-speed automatic transmission. The E63 selectable drive programs include an AMG-specific Race mode, a rear-wheel-drive-enabling Drift mode, and launch control. Thus equipped, this station wagon now rockets to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds flat. Keep the go pedal planted, and one will dispense with a quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds while traveling 126 mph. (For reference, the wagon matched the E63 S sedan’s zero-to-60 time and was mere tenths behind in every other acceleration measure.)
The quickest current-generation Audi R8 we’ve tested, a 610-hp Plus coupe, hit the mile-a-minute mark in 2.9 seconds, with the quarter coming up in 10.9 at 129 mph. Needless to say, a rematch would be interesting.
Supercar-smacking acceleration is so easy in the E63 wagon that you could teach the most nervous neophyte how to do it in less than a minute: From a dead stop, with Sport, Sport+, or Race mode selected, just hold the brake, floor the throttle until the revs plateau (about 3500 rpm), and release the brake. Then hold on while the force sends everything not securely anchored—hats, purses, backpacks, briefcases, or, yes, that cliché load of groceries—into a violent encounter with the seatbacks, the liftgate, or whatever the closest vertical surface behind it may be. There is little to no wheelspin, only explosive forward motion that pulls the corners of your mouth into an involuntary grin and flattens any loose skin on your face—an instant facelift that lasts exactly as long as one has the nerve to keep his or her foot planted.
The E63 offers much more than explosive acceleration. Indeed, inside and out, our test car was about as thoroughly sportified as an E63 S wagon can be, equipped as it was with $8950 carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a $2500 pair of supportive front performance seats, a $1250 performance exhaust system, and a $1700 set of black cross-spoke 20-inch wheels shod in 265/35 ZR-20 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, all together representing roughly half of the $32,785 worth of options that brought the price of our station wagon to a spectacularly spendy $140,730.
Interestingly, these extras didn’t produce any better braking or cornering results than we saw during our test of a 2014 E63 S 4Matic wagon in late 2013. Both wagons halted from 70 mph in a scant 153 feet, and this one clung to the asphalt to the tune of 0.96 g, 0.01 less than the 36-pounds-heavier 2014 model. That said, those are still truly remarkable performance figures.
It’s not just the measurable performance the E63 S wagon delivers but also the vigor and finesse the car exhibits. The ride is firm, but with the car in Comfort or even Sport mode, one needn’t fear losing fillings or damaging fragile cargo. In all modes, the steering is communicative and always well weighted, and body motions are appropriately minimized. Particularly in Sport+ and Race driving modes, the transmission’s whip-crack upshifts and predictive downshifts.Unfortunately, we didn’t have an opportunity to play with Drift mode much on the crowded Los Angeles roads where our street driving took place, relegating our fun to the test track, where a few slides proved that the car does indeed rotate quite ably.
All of the above is especially savory because, thanks to the unique outward-visibility characteristics and the acoustics specific to this body style, you never forget you’re in a wagon. Aided by the optional performance exhaust, the sounds produced by the 4.0-liter V-8—some of which are piped in through the speakers—are marvellously loud. The 45-decibel idle rumble and the 81-decibel full-throttle wail we measured (with the exhaust in Normal mode; it’s much louder in Sport mode) are as enchanting as those in any new muscle car or sports sedan on the market today, even with the $1100 Acoustic Comfort package that includes more cabin insulation and windshield and side glass designed to reduce solar gain and road noise.