The Mercedes-AMG E63 is even faster in 585PS S guise. Jonathan Crouch checks it out
It's hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by the 557PS on offer from a standard Mercedes-AMG E63. But for the very few that may be, the Stuttgart engineers have delivered us this S version, equipped with another 28PS. It's very fast indeed.
Until the launch of the current E63 AMG, Mercedes was never quite on the pace in the really quick executive super saloon sector. That changed with the launch of the improved version early in 2012, a car further embellished in the 'S' form we're going to look at here. With an extra 28PS on tap, this particular derivative certainly has enough in the locker to take on such as the Audi RS6 and the Jaguar XFR-S. It's the most powerful vehicle in the E-Class range and the fastest E-Class ever to be offered in the UK. In short, it's a very desirable choice.
So, the basics first. Up front is a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 that develops 585PS, that's 28PS more than the standard version. This extra power doesn't do much for the basic stats, sending this car (in saloon form) from rest in sixty two mph in 4.1s, just 0.1s quicker. The estate manages the same in 4.2s. Still, that certainly is quick for a car this big and heavy and what really matters is that torque is up by 80Nm. An AMG rear axle limited slip differential lock is standard. Plus, the AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension features steel springs up front and a full air suspension system at the rear axle. Some 800Nm of torque arrives at said back axle via an AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT-7 transmission which features four modes - "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) and "M" (Manual). In "C" mode, the ECO start/stop function is active, the shift action is softer and the car typically starts in second gear. The engine and transmission are far more responsive in "S", "S+" and "M" mode; in addition, the ECO start/stop function is deactivated. An automatic double-declutching function for downshifting and the RACE START function are also featured. Little prepares you for quite how well all this technology hangs together. This Mercedes feels properly well-sorted. It's not one of those cars that shrinks around you, but so confidence-inspiring is the chassis that you don't feel intimidated in driving this car hard and the torque makes mincemeat of hills or slower traffic. It's utterly addictive. What's more, unlike some of the Mercedes' rivals, you feel that the technology is working with you rather than serving to baffle or mask shortcomings. Here's the new class benchmark.
The enhanced exterior of the S Model features exclusive design elements, including a high-gloss black front apron with silver-shadow splitter, side sill panels and rear trim strip with silver-shadow inserts, an AMG spoiler in body colour, 19 inch AMG alloy wheels painted in Titanium matt grey, red brake calipers, and 'S' labelling on the boot lid. Inside, the unique interior includes black nappa leather upholstery with grey contrast stitching, silver seat belts, an AMG emblem in the headrests, an electric rear roller blind for the Saloon, AMG door sills with white LED illumination, and an AMG instrument cluster with red applications and S Model badging. A choice of seven standard metallic paints and one non-metallic paint in Polar White for the S Model are complimented by two additional metallic paints, Diamond White and Hyacinth Red, two designo metallic paints, Mocha Black and Graphite and two designo Magno matt paints, Allanite Grey and Cashmere White.
There's a premium of around £10,000 to opt for this S variant rather than a standard E63 AMG - which might give potential buyers cause to pause for thought. Whichever version they decide upon, there's the option of spending another £1,800 to get the extra versatility of the estate version. The asking prices are hardly insignificant but can seem a bit of a bargain in the context of the ability and workmanship that you're buying. Next to, say, a Porsche 911, the E63 AMG looks a lot of car for the cash. Standard equipment includes Collision Prevention Assist, a radar-based warning system with adaptive brake-assist systems. The sheer amount of sensor technology that can be specified into the E-Class - with both long and short range radars and stereo camera with smart software that recognises pedestrians at road intersections - is quite astonishing. As, indeed, are the fully integrated social media functions that can be specified. Got an iPhone? You can integrate pretty seamlessly. It's just a shame you can't as yet on the much bigger selling Android smart phone platform.
Mercedes makes great play of the fact that the E63 AMG has the most efficient powerplant of its type but then fails to define exactly what that 'type' is. Nevertheless, efficiency measures aren't as dreadful as you might expect. The specification sheet claims an average of 28.5mpg, with emissions rated at 232g/km. On an admittedly hilly test route and being pedalled rather enthusiastically, we returned 12mpg. Drive with a little more restraint and you'd probably do a lot better. That emissions figure is excellent and isn't far off what we used to consider a decent average for something like a V6 Ford Mondeo. Residual values are some of the best in the sector although you will have to keep an eye on options pricing if you want to keep a cap on your pence per mile figures.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is certainly the ultimate E-Class - and a car that Stuttgart just had to introduce to properly take on Audi RS6 and Jaguar XFR-S direct rivals. For us, it doesn't really offer enough over the standard E63 AMG to justify its £10,000 price premium - but then if you're wealthy enough to be shopping in this market sector, then you might not necessarily care about that. Bottom line is that if you simply must have the fastest, most technologically advanced Mercedes E-Class that there is - and that there's ever been - then this is it.