08/07/2009 06:03 | By Kyle Fortune, contributor, MSN Cars

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG review (2006-2009)



Mercedes E63 AMG (© Mercedes)

Overview:

Model: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Bodystyle: Estate
Engine: 6.3-litre V8, petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Date of test: May 2006

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What is it?

The quickest way of getting you, plus your family/friends/furniture/anything else or a combination of each around. The E63 is available as a saloon, but we kind of like the idea of an estate with 514bhp. As there’s no BMW M5 alternative and an Audi RS6 is still some way off then it’s on its own in providing supercar pace in a large sensible estate body. It’s also the largest capacity estate car on the market - not in boot size even though it’s likely to be right up there – but in engine size. 6.3-litres, or 6,208cc if we’re being pedantic. That’s a monster of a powerplant to put into an estate car, and here it enables the E-Class to sprint to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds and easily reach its 155mph electronic limiter.

Where does it fit?

On any suburban driveway, school run or as a hack for when it’s too wet and too inconvenient to dig a supercar out of your collection. Some might think a 514bhp super estate is utterly pointless, but if you’re used to big performance from everything else you own then why shouldn’t your family car have similar pace? In the E-Class range it’s the absolute range topper, particularly as in estate guise it’s even more money than the saloon. Rivals include cars like the BMW M5, hot Audi Avants and cars like the Cayenne Turbo S and the Range Rover Sport.

Is it for you?

If you like your Benzes fast and focused then, absolutely. There’s little out there to touch it for performance, and it really is a practical package. The boot is huge, and it’s as happy being a relaxed daily driver as it is blasting down the autobahn straining at its electronic speed limiter. If you’ve a family and a yearning for a supercar and only one parking place then the E63 wagon is the perfect solution. It’s not as in your face as mega power SUVs either so you’ll not attract the attention of the greenies – despite it packing a 6.3-litre V8.

What does it do well?

Opt for manual control of the seven-speed automatic transmission and you’ll be frustrated when it doesn’t let you punch down through several gears at a time. That high revving V8, fully developed by AMG, while delivering huge bhp actually has less outright torque than its E55 predecessor, and it’s noticeable at low revs. As a result the AMG flagship has lost some of its unruliness at low speeds, the linear spread of power and torque allowing the adoption of the seven-speed transmission. Fuel consumption is never going to be good with such a big engine under the bonnet, but if that’s really your concern then they also do a big range of diesels. An M5 handles better, too.

What doesn’t it do well?

Opt for manual control of the seven-speed automatic transmission and you’ll be frustrated when it doesn’t let you punch down through several gears at a time. That high revving V8, fully developed by AMG, while delivering huge bhp actually has less outright torque than its E55 predecessor, and it’s noticeable at low revs. As a result the AMG flagship has lost some of its unruliness at low speeds, the linear spread of power and torque allowing the adoption of the seven-speed transmission. Fuel consumption is never going to be good with such a big engine under the bonnet, but if that’s really your concern then they also do a big range of diesels. An M5 handles better, too.

What’s it like to live with?

License threatening. With all that power it’s easy to cruise up to big numbers on the motorway without noticing. On other roads having so much grunt makes overtaking swift and sure and it’s unlikely you’ll ever tire of the noise it makes. It’s a good looking thing too, the AMG add-ons giving it a really muscular look without being brash. The huge brakes stop it phenomenally well, the gearbox is smooth when left alone and it’s very comfortable inside. Even the ride on Merc’s Airmatic suspension is good and there are enough toys inside as standard to keep you occupied for years. When you’ll ever find an occasion to use the RACETIMER clock among the trip computer is unlikely, as although it’s obviously a performance car it’s not one that you’re likely to rock up to in a track day in. More likely is you’ll go to one with a trailer behind it and your track-day car on it.

How green is it?

Let’s be serious here, a 6.3-litre V8 is never going to be the first choice of propulsion among the green fraternity. Never mind that it’s able to produce its 514bhp and still return a relatively impressive 19.5mpg on the official combined consumption cycle. Such a figure from such an output would have been inconceivable as recently as a decade ago. CO2 emissions of 345g/km isn’t exactly what you’d call planet hugging either. Buy a forest if you feel guilty about the emissions, after all if you can afford the E63, you can afford a bit of woodland to soak up the CO2.

Would we buy it?

If we were having an E63 we’d have to have the estate. It’s such an appealing mix of power and usefulness to make you wonder why you’d want anything else in your garage. Sure, it’s not as sharp as an M5, but the BMW isn’t available in estate guise. There are plenty of more sensible Merc E-Class estates available, and if you’re after power the E500 is pretty far from slow, but the E63 and its like will always appeal to buyers wanting the fastest, most expensive model in the range. And if we’re being honest we fall into that category.

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