► Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate tested
► S version packs 603bhp, 3.5sec 0-62mph
► A brief test at Silverstone GP circuit
Everyone loves a fast estate. And this one is as fast as they come.
The wagon version of the Mercedes-AMG E63 super-saloon is a car with a very big boot, very serious performance stats and a very long name: the Mercedes-AMG E63 4Matic+ Estate.
And the version we’re testing here has one further letter: ‘S.’
Just like the saloon, the E63 Estate is available in two versions: the regular E63, with 563bhp, and the E63 S with 603bhp and various dynamic upgrades.
Admittedly, we’ve driven this car very briefly, and only on track, at Silverstone’s GP circuit. We’ll be driving it on the road soon, at which point we’ll update this review with our on-road driving impressions.
Does the E63 Estate get the same engine as the E63 saloon?
The E63 wagon is broadly mechanically identical to the saloon, and uses the very same 4.0-litre ‘hot-inside-vee’ twin-turbo V8 – the same one, in fact, that’s now hard at work in all sorts of cars, from the AMG GT sports car to the C63 saloon/coupe/estate, and even now the Aston Martin DB11 and upcoming Vantage replacement.
So named because it groups the turbos within the vee of the cylinders, it also features cylinder shutdown tech to save fuel under low loads.
In all current E63 models, it’s combined with a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Click here to read CAR's review of the regular Mercedes E-class E220d Estate
Is the E63 Estate much slower than the saloon?
There’s a weight increase of around 110kg (and a little bit more for S versions) for the wagon, but it’s only a tenth slower to 62mph, and top speed is still electronically limited to 155mph. It can be raised to 180mph with the optional AMG Driver’s Package – only around 6mph slower than the slipperier saloon.
And it’s all-wheel-drive, right?
Unsurprisingly given all that power, every E63 model is all-wheel-drive (hence the 4Matic bit in the name), but to continue big AMG models’ long-standing tradition of opposite locking and tyre smoking, it’s very much rear-biased.
The rear wheels are permanently driven, with the fronts activated by an electronically controlled coupling when traction is in short supply (or when the driver’s right foot gets a bit too heavy).
Most intriguingly, there’s also a Drift Mode, à la Ford Focus RS, available in E63 S models only, which directs 100% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. We didn’t try this in the estate, but have tried it in the E63 S saloon – here’s how it works.
How much does the AMG E63 Estate cost? Quite a lot, by any chance?
It’s not much more money than the saloon, but it is Quite A Lot of money full stop.
The estate costs a premium of around £2000 over the E63 saloon; at launch the regular E63 Estate costs £81,130, and the all-powerful E63 S version £90,490. A few choice options could easily see that price climb into six figures.
What makes separates the E63 S from the regular E63, apart from the extra glob of power?
Larger 20-inch wheels (the E63 has 19s), huggier ‘AMG performance’ seats and active engine mounts, which stiffen automatically according to load.
It also gets an extra Race setting in the driving modes menu (for the engine and gearbox maps, stability control, power steering and dampers), an electronically controlled differential in place of the E63’s mechanical one, and bigger 390mm front brake discs to the E63’s 360mm ones.
Ceramic brake discs (measuring a giant 402mm) are an (expensive) option on both models, and all E63s get the twin-screen display layout that’s an optional extra on common-or-garden E-class models.
So what’s it like to drive?
As mentioned earlier, my experience of the car was limited to a handful of laps of Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit in damp-ish conditions.
I can tell you that 603bhp really does feel like 603bhp; flat-out on Hangar Straight it feels genew-ine-lee supercar fast. The V8’s note is more muted than I’d expected – but maybe it was cushioned by the crash helmet clamped over my ears.
In long corners, and on the way out of shorter ones, you can feel the all-wheel-drive system shuffling torque around to the axle that needs it most, and the overall handling balance is nice and predictable, helped by the long wheelbase.
Body roll is well contained on the E63’s air suspension and standard adaptive dampers, and the power steering’s weight and response feels well-judged.
One note of caution – this car weighs two tonnes, give or take, and that was evidenced by the nostril curling stench from the brakes when we trundled into the pitlane at the end of the brief drive. I wasn’t pushing particularly hard (honest!), although the stability control system (which uses the braking system to stop the car getting out of shape), was turned on, which could have been a contributory factor.
We need to drive this car on the road, of course, but on first impression it’s stonkingly quick, genuinely comfortable and with handling that’s more involving and communicative than the ultra-fast but slightly inert feeling Audi RS6.
Is it actually any good as an estate car?
In terms of pure volume, certainly. The rear seats’ backrests can be adjusted to create more luggage room, as much as 670 litres at their most upright. That figure means nothing in isolation, so for context you’d get 565 litres from an Audi A6 Avant, or 560 from a Volvo V90.
Those seat backs are divided into a three-way 40:20:40 split, and with them dropped there’s 1820 litres on offer (compared with 1680 for an A6 Avant and 1526 for the V90).
The roomy interior is all very ornate, full of swoopy surfaces, LED mood lighting and a customisable instrument panel, arranging its digital dials and infotainment across two 12.3-inch screens.
Nobody needs an estate car with more than 600bhp. But who wouldn’t want one?
The Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon is fast enough to outrun some modern-day supercars, hugely roomy, and on the basis of this brief drive, well-mannered at high and low speeds alike. We’ll let you know what it’s like on the road soon…
Read our Mercedes-AMG E63 S saloon vs Porsche Panamera Turbo twin test here