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Mercedes-AMG E63 S: Performance Car of the Year 2018 2nd Place

By David Morley | Photos: Ellen Dewar & Nathan Jacobs, 27 Feb 2018 Performance COTY

Monster Merc redefines four-door performance

Mercedes AMG E63 S Performance Car of the Year 2018 2nd Place

OUR ROUND-table discussion at the end of PCOTY threw up one very interesting question when it came to the Mercedes-AMG E63 S: What exactly is this car for?

To which, boss-man DC gave the perfect answer: What isn’t it for? What the hell couldn’t you do with it?

Okay, so on a track, there’s going to be a limit to how many laps you can do before the tyres melt. Fair enough, but given that it’s the best part of two tonnes and it’s packing 850Nm of brutality, that should come as no real surprise.

And, yes, it rides a bit firmly for some tastes, but that’s the AMG way of ensuring you know you’re in an AMG and not a half-baked Munich taxi with a turbo bolted on. And anyway, beyond those concerns, there’s not much apart from a dollar-sign and plenty of zeroes to put you off. This car is almost unbelievably fast.

Rarely – if ever, now I think about it – have I driven a road-legal motor vehicle with a same degree of relentlessness in both the depth and the delivery of its horsepower. You think you’re going fast? You think you’re up it for the rent? Then squeeze that gas pedal a bit harder, pal, and feel the dead cow smack you between the shoulder blades even harder.

Do the nice people at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons know about this engine? Even if they’ve heard rumours, I’m tipping they haven’t driven it.

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Bald numbers? How about 3.4sec to 100km/h and 11.2sec across the quarter. But even that doesn’t tell you the whole story. Because with the addition of all-wheel drive for this latest version, the AMG has fixed its previous major shortcoming, but created another it can’t do much about.

See, in the old rear-drive E63, traction was the limiting factor. Now, it’s the length of the road that will, ultimately, determine how much coal you pour on before it all goes Pete Tong. Not that lousy road engineering is AMG’s problem.

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This doesn’t alter the fact that you won’t find yourself in many situations where there is sufficient road to get the pedal all the way to the Axminster. And when it’s not transferring your fears from ‘traction’ to ‘looming bend’ the all-wheel drive system mostly just works away, quietly and all but imperceptibly in the background.

It doesn’t make a fuss, it doesn’t spoil the steering and it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Quite the opposite, and if you want to know what the thing would be like without the calming influence of all-paw traction, you can slip it into drift mode for a few, terrifying seconds and see for yourself just how wild it can be.

Hell, the AMG even works in the wet where the Michelins grip up quickly and give you plenty of feedback on what’s going on under them. But if the all-wheel drive doesn’t manage to ruin the party, neither does anything else.

The E63 S oozes class from every shut-line and even though it’s not as lairy to look at as some factory hot-roads we could name, it still manages to make a statement.

The big, broad E-Class-derived animated dashboard won’t be to everybody’s liking, and neither does the column-shifted gearbox scream sporty. But the seats are lovely, the build quality superb and the fit and finish about as good as it gets.

Follow the Performance Car of the Year 2018

If there’s a downside to the AMG’s ferocity, it’s that it always feels up for a stoush. You could drive it sedately, one supposes, but it’s not as happy at that as it is when you’re tearing strips into the bitumen and letting that 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 make its hooligan collection of noises.

The active exhaust is a perfect example: you can switch it to ‘shut-up’ mode, but why the hell would you? 

The counter argument is that being so fast, it ultimately, in some situations, becomes unusably fast. But if you can criticise a PCOTY contender for being too fast, then it’s time to move on and rearrange your sock drawer.

And don’t forget to say hi to the Anti-Nuke Treaty people for me.

2018 MERCEDES-AMG E63 S SPECS:
Body: 4-door, 5-seat sedan
Drive: all-wheel 
Engine: 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Bore/Stroke: 83.0 x 92.0mm
Compression ratio: 8.6:1
Power: 450kW @ 5750-6500rpm
Torque: 850Nm @ 2500-4500rpm
Power/Weight: 230kW/tonne
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1955kg
Suspension: multi-links, air springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (f/r)
Brakes: 390mm ventilated/driled discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 360mm ventilated/drilled discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 20.0 x 9.5-inch (f); 20.0 x 10.0-inch (r)
Tyres Sizes: 265/35 ZR20 (f); 295/30 ZR20 (r)
Tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S
Price: $239,611

0-100km/h: 3.4sec (2nd)
0-400m: 11.28sec @ 203.72km/h (2nd)

JUDGES' RANK

Morley – 3rd
I’m scratching my head to recall another engine that humbled me so. Have mercy! 

Campbell – 2nd
The best AMG I’ve ever driven, eclipses even GT. Soul of a smaller car, that V8 – love it.

Newman – 2nd
The new benchmark super sedan, but don’t love it like the old one – not yet, anyway.

Robson – 2nd
Not so much a car as a ground-bound ballistic missile. Like punting a locomotive.

Reynolds – =4th
Awesome inside, powerful engine, soft feel – would be a great car for touring.

JUDGES' SCOREBOARD

  Campbell Morley Newman Reynolds Robson Total
Performance 9.5 10 10 10 9 48.5
Dynamics 9 7 9 7 9 41
Accessibility 9 9 9 7 8 42
Liveability 6.5 6 8 10 9 39.5
Value 6 5 7.5 6 7 31.5
X-Factor 9 8 7.5 7 7 38.5
Total 49 45 51 47 49 241