Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) review

Published:05 July 2009

Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) CAR review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

The new E63 is Merc’s AMG-powered middleweight and follows a tried and tested plan: big V8 + sober saloon = autobahn domination. Well that’s the theory, and this is the reality.

So this week it’s the E-class’ turn to have a go with the 6.2-litre V8?

Yes, Mercedes likes to spread the bhp love around and so it’s no surprise that the shortly after the release of the regular E-class, we’re now being offered this: the AMG-fettled E63, a circa £69k businessman’s hot rod.

It’s running the same naturally aspirated engine that all non-V12 AMGs have used since Merc ditched the old supercharged 5.5-litre V8. It pumps out 518bhp and 464lb ft of torque – around 10bhp up on the old E63 and enough to push the 1840kg E-class to 62mph in 4.5sec. And it’s slightly greener this time, recording 22mpg, a 2mpg improvement, while CO2 emissions drop from a terrible 341g/km to a faintly less terrible 295g/km.

Forget the figures, tell me about the E63's noise!

It’s indecent, a proper solid, metallic V8 throb. Twist the key to start it and you get a good flare of revs before it settles down to a meaty idle. Nice, but at low speeds it sounds like a typical low-revving V8 with some free-flow pipes on it. This engine really revs, and when you extend it towards 6500rpm and hear the hard bark filtering through into the cabin, that’s when you it really know that this is no ordinary Benz.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Mercedes E63 AMG first drive

    

But is it all about the E63's engine? What about corners? Are they off limits? Or just beyond them?

The E63 can do corners, and far better than you might imagine for a car so large. The standard three-stage adjustable dampers give you a choice between a cushy limo ride and still good body control or a more traditional nuggety German hot-rod experience that gives no quarter to body movements. The E-class is so refined though, so quiet, so smooth, that it feels wrong to force it to buck about on bumpy roads. So Comfort it is.

If you’re expecting 911-quality steering though, rather unsurprisingly you won’t find it here. The Merc’s helm is light and accurate but rarely engaging and one of the reasons that the E63 doesn’t quite shrink around you like a Jaguar XFR.

But the Merc does put its 464lb ft down really well, even on the standard Euro-spec 18-inch wheels (19s will probably be standard in the UK). This is one AMG where the dashboard doesn’t blink away like a lighthouse every time you dip your toe into the power.

Does it feel sober or sexy from behind the wheel?

It’s certainly Teutonic in feel thanks to the angular, upright dash and console structure, but it’s light years ahead of the old E-class in terms of cabin materials. Apart form the metal dash trim, chunky three-spoke steering wheel and grippy leather sports seats, there are plenty of techy buttons to remind you that you’re driving something tweaked by AMG.

Apart from the damper button you can switch the ESP between On, Sport or Off, and you can choose between gearshift settings too, using a rotary dial just like the one fitted to the SL63. In fact the gearbox is the same seven-speed epicyclic auto as used in the SL and, like the sports car, ditches a heavy torque converter for a lighter wet clutch pack more normally found on dual-clutch gearboxes. It works well, slurring between ratios in Comfort mode, where you’ll mostly leave it, and feeling responsive in Sport or Sport Plus. There’s a pointless Race Start function too.

Verdict

There are no great surprises here, the E63 is just as we’d expected. The new E-class is a great car, a proper Mercedes and the E63 the most fun of the lot. It’s not quite as exciting as BMW’s aging M5 or Jaguar’s more agile XFR, but it’s a better all-rounder than either. It sounds glorious, is beautifully built and trounces the Jag in the practicality stakes while highlighting the BMW’s agricultural transmission.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new Mercedes E63 AMG. Would you buy one over a BMW M5, Audi RS6 or Jaguar XFR?

Specs

Price when new: £69,000
On sale in the UK: Now (prices is an estimate)
Engine: 6208cc 32v V8, 518bhp @ 6500rpm, 464lb ft @ 5200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.5sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 22mpg, 295g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1840kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

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  • Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) CAR review
  • Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) CAR review
  • Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) CAR review
  • Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) CAR review
  • Mercedes E63 AMG (2009) CAR review

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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