The interior layout, fit and finish
As with all AMG saloons and hatchbacks, the E63 stays largely true to its Mercedes roots on the inside. The AMG-inspired elements are mostly decorative – a few carbon-fibre touches here and contrast seat stitching there. The trim upgrades, including the leather-wrapped dashboard, look high-end, and subjectively the E63 has more wow factor inside than the Audi RS6 Avant. It's not quite as substantial when you go prodding around as the RS6 and BMW M5, though.
Soft nappa leather also extends to the seats, and in the front those are heavily bolstered sports seats. They come with full electric adjustment, including lumbar adjustment and a basic massaging facility. The driver’s seat is comfortable over long distances but not as figure-hugging through corners as the ones you get in the M5 and RS6.
The driving position is rather flawed, it has to be said. The E63's footwell is confined: the left-hand side bulges out and restricts the room for your left leg and offsets the pedals to the right. That problem also exists in the M5 and RS6, but not to the same degree, and at least in those cars the steering wheel and driver's seat line up. They don't in the E63: the steering wheel sits to the left of the centre line of the seat.
The touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons are a nuisance, too. They're fiddly, don't always do what you want them to and, if you accidentally catch one while turning the wheel, can inadvertently change something you didn't want to be adjusted. On the plus side, the rest of the dashboard controls that operate the primary functions are mostly physical buttons and knobs that are easy to use.
Some people have found that the top of the digital instruments are hidden by the steering wheel unless they raise the wheel up higher than feels ideal. The steering wheel adjustment is electric, by the way, with a good range of movement in all directions.
Next to the 12.3in digital instrument screen is the 12.3in infotainment screen. Both screens are high definition and the Mercedes MBUX software is generally responsive and intuitive. The infotainment screen is a touchscreen, which is a fine medium for operating the system when you're stationary, but the additional touchpad between the front seats is the less distracting method of operation while you're driving.
The M5's infotainment package comes with a physical iDrive rotary controller, which is even easier to use, but there is nothing similar in the RS6 or the Porsche Panamera to help you navigate their complex touchscreens.
Standard equipment includes a DAB radio and built-in 'augmented' sat-nav, which plays a live camera feed of the road ahead overlaid with direction arrows pointing at the road you need to turn down. You also get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto so you can use your smartphone's navigation apps, wireless phone-charging and a punchy 13-speaker, 590-watt Burmester sound system.
It's easier to see out of the back of the E63 estate than the saloon, but neither is as easy to see out of as the RS6, which has thinner pillars all round. That's not a major concern, though, because the E63 comes with front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera and bright, adaptive LED headlights.
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