Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG: driven

* Flagship E-Class saloon * 522bhp 6.2-litre V8 * Prices start at £69,850...

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What Car? Staff
24 November 2009

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG: driven

E 63 AMG: What is it?

It's Mercedes' flagship E-Class model. The classy saloon is powered by a 522bhp, 6.2-litre V8 engine with each engine hand-assembled by an individual technician from Mercedes' performance brand, AMG.

What makes it different from the standard car?

Apart from that monster of an engine, the front wheels are set further apart, and the E63 has a unique suspension set-up, with steel springs at the front and an air suspension system at the rear. There's a seven-speed, flappy-paddle gearbox and sporty styling touches to the interior and exterior.

What's it like to drive

AMG's engineers like to describe the E 63 as a Jekyll and Hyde car. However, unlike the good Doctor Jekyll and evil Mister Hyde, the E 63's transformation from cruiser to bruiser isn't a sudden or uncontrolled occurrence, but an engineered sequence of events designed by AMG engineers.

The heart of the transformation is four driving modes Controlled Efficiency, Sports, Sports Plus and Manual controlled by a dial on the centre console. As you switch from Controlled Efficiency to the Sports modes, gearchanges and engine speed become quicker. In Sports Plus, gearchanges take just 100 milliseconds.

The driver can also alter the suspension set-up and there are three settings for the stability control totally on, a mid-point sporty setting and totally off.

There's an AMG memory function that allows you to choose your favoured settings at the touch of a button and to top things off there's a Race Start function to launch you from a standing start with maximum traction.

The E 63 does the comfortable cruiser job as well as any E-Class, but transforms into a totally different beast as you turn these dials. It blasts you from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph. Average fuel consumption is 22.4mpg (not that you will get anywhere near that if you make the most of engine and electronic wizardry) and CO2 emissions are 295g/km. Running costs won't be cheap.

What's it like inside

Very nice. Special mention must be made to the front seats, which come with an array of buttons and switches, the most exciting of which is a Dynamic setting this inflates the seats' bolsters automatically as you turn the wheel. Turn to the left and the right-hand bolster inflates, and vice versa.

Should I buy one?

The E 63 is as practical as a 522bhp V8-engined car can be. It is comfortable, and can be sensible and exciting in equal measures.

It is more expensive than a BMW M5 but cheaper than an Audi RS6, but when you are spending £70,000, a few thousand pounds is neither here nor there especially when you can spend thousands more on the long list of options.

If you are after a super-quick saloon, this car should certainly be near the top of your must-try list.

Our verdict