by Sebastian Cenizo
If you've ever wanted to be an astronaut but you're also afraid of heights, Mercedes-AMG has the perfect way to satisfy your cravings for rocketship acceleration without high-flying thrills. The E63 S luxury sedan is the most insane and mad way to exude style and elegance without restraining your inner hooligan too much either. A 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 sends 603-horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels when you're feeling relatively civilized, but like its BMW M5 nemesis, a rear-wheel-drive mode can be activated for total lunacy. With a nine-speed automatic gearbox controlling output, you can keep both hands on the wheel and concentrate fully on getting away from the men in white coats. Someone else who may be wanting to lock you up in an asylum is your financial manager - this car starts at $107,350.
Not too much has changed mechanically for the 2020 model year, but the previously optional AMG Performance exhaust is now standard. This enhances the new and more aggressive start-up sound called Emotion Start, while a steering wheel with more upholstery options now includes a digital drive-mode selector too. Also new is a matte fiberglass trim option for the interior. Finally, a Slippery drive mode is also new and helps maintain traction in tricky conditions, like during a downpour.
The E63 S does a very good job of hiding its size and looking very much like a slightly swollen C 63. The usual gaping air dams at the front with gloss black accents that also carry over to the fake vents on the fenders and the sculpted mirrors add visual presence, while the rear features a subtle trunk lid spoiler and a diffuser housing the quad tips of the exhaust. Standard 20-inch wheels and LED lighting all-round help finish off the look of a bodybuilder in a suit.
The hulking but well-toned E63 S may weigh 4,515 lbs - a curb weight of 145 lbs more than the BMW M5 - but its proportions are well chosen. Length measures 196.4 inches from bumper to bumper, with a wheelbase of 115.7 inches. Width is 81.3 inches across including the mirrors, with height at 56.6 inches. These dimensions help allow for a cavernous trunk, plenty of airy room in the cabin, and lots of space to stretch out.
If you still want some money left in your kid's college fund, you'd best not spend anything extra on paint. That limits you to just two choices: Black and Polar White. A semester's worth of stationery supplies can be dispensed with if you want Obsidian Black, Iridium Silver, Lunar Blue, or Selenite Grey. These metallic shades cost $720. If you'd like to see your better half's face match the color of your car, spend $1,080 on designo Cardinal Red. Alternatively, there's designo Diamond White for $1,515 and designo Selenite Grey Magno, a matte shade that costs $3,950 and possibly your life too when your wife finds out how much you spent on it.
The E63 S is equipped with all-wheel-drive to help undo its tire-slaying reputation of unsteadiness. Thanks to this, its 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque can be relatively well-controlled, allowing for an official 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds. However, the triumvirate of German superpowers - BMW M, Mercedes-AMG, and Audi RS - have a habit of understating performance, so don't be surprised if sprints are closer to the three-second mark in the real world. If you keep your foot planted, the nine-speed auto keeps on shifting smoothly until 155 mph, where the E63 S runs into its limiter, but if top speed isn't your thing and you miss the old days where E-Class AMGs simply destroyed tires in a matter of seconds, the all-wheel-drive system can be put into a drift mode, where all the power is sent to the rear wheels and the traction control is completely deactivated. This setting is obviously intended for the more experienced driver, but with everything on, the E63 S won't bite a novice's head off either.
The E63 S is available with just one monster of an engine: a fire-breathing 603-hp twin-turbo V8 with a 4.0-liter capacity. If you think that's a bit too excessive, Mercedes does offer an E 53 with 429 hp, but that's for the weak. What you want is 627 lb-ft of torque coursing through a shiftable nine-speed auto. Thanks to multiple drive modes, you can sharpen the shifts and throttle response progressively, making it possible to do both comfortable cruising with smooth gear changes and aggressive acceleration. Long gone are the days when fast Mercs, and particularly fast E-Class Mercs, would give you time to think about your potential prison sentence between upshifts as you got hurtled towards the horizon in a ball of naturally-aspirated fury. Now, you simply lean on the accelerator and before you know it, you're in court apologizing to your family for breaking the Cannonball Run record. The best part about the E63 S is possibly the fact that, despite its turbocharged method of extracting more power, it still has a naturally potent sound to it. Then again, when a 603-horsepower V8 sounds good, you tend to ignore the consequences and use every opportunity to crack the tarmac.
If you're expecting that trademark E-Class comfort and tranquility, you may find yourself double-checking that you're not in some sort of race car. Sure, in Comfort mode the E63 S is decently damped and can ferry you to work and back in relative comfort, but if you turn things up a little to any of the sportier drive modes, you may find yourself driving toward a doctor in a white coat - specifically a dentist or a chiropractor. The adaptive air suspension is bone-jarringly stiff and should only really be changed to a more aggressive setting on glassy, smooth surfaces.
Nevertheless, the sacrifice in comfort pays dividends in handling, with the E63 S proving to be an agile and capable behemoth in the corners, despite its considerable heft. The steering is less divisive, offering lightness at low speeds and good weight and communication when you're pushing the limits. The 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, despite being shunned at first by the purists who favor rear-wheel propulsion, has proven itself to be the right choice for going faster, whether from the line or around corners. Plus, for those who want to run amok on occasion, a drift mode can be activated to really encourage involuntary vomiting from your passengers, sending all thrust to the rear wheels and disabling traction control for long and lavish slides. When you have to let someone out so they can report you for causing seasickness on dry land, the standard brakes are easy to gauge and slow the beast down quickly. Also available are carbon ceramics to properly undo the G-forces caused by acceleration. Be warned though, these cost a whopping $8,950.
The E63 S is a predictably thirsty vehicle, but it's not as bad as you might expect. Official figures from the EPA show a return of 15/23/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. By comparison, the BMW M5 Competition only manages figures of 15/21/17 mpg on the same cycles. With a 21.1-gallon gas tank, the Merc should return an average of around 380 miles between fillups with mixed driving. The M5 Comp's gas tank is a gallon smaller and will only give 341.7 miles of range with the same sort of driving.
Stepping into the E63 S, you are greeted by a stylish, comfortable and modern cabin with not one but two 12.3-inch screens for infotainment and cluster displays. Nappa leather and eight different trim accent options imbue the vehicle with an ambiance of luxury and style, while optional AMG Performance front seats add a racier look. You'll want to stick with the standard heated and ventilated chairs up front though, and possibly spec massaging for these and heating for the armrests, rear seats, and steering wheel. Looking up, you can spec either a black or Macchiato Beige headliner to frame the standard sunroof, while the lower half of the car is enhanced with a 64-color ambient lighting system as standard. Also available is a panoramic sunroof, a digital head-up display with a lap timer, and tri-zone climate control.
Getting into the E63 S is something you'll look forward to; it's an easy process, too, thanks to large door openings and a low sill. Getting out is not something that you'll necessarily look forward to even after a long drive, as the car seats five in fantastic comfort. It's no S-Class, but the legroom and headroom available for both front and rear passengers are unlikely to cause complaints. Optional heating for the rear can further increase luxury, but the front is where you want to be for ultimate luxury. Heated and ventilated seats are standard, but for a price, Merc will speed up the heating process and add massage functions too. The armrests and steering wheel can also be heated. With power adjustment, you can easily find the perfect driving position which is further aided by a good view out in every direction.
With fantastic craftsmanship, high-quality materials are a given. Nappa leather in your choice of full black, Nut Brown and black, or Macchiato Beige and black is standard, with aluminum trim adorning the doors and dash. If you don't like the silver color of aluminum, three no-cost wood options are available: Natural Grain Brown Ash, Black Ash, and Natural Grain Black Ash. Alternatively, you can spend $1,300 on black wood with silver pinstripes, $600 on Metal Weave, or $2,850 on carbon fiber or the new Matte Silver Fiberglass option. Headlining can also be had in faux suede for $1,600, with a choice between black and Macchiato Beige. Seatbelts can also be customized, with a choice between black and silver.
The E63 S is a relatively practical super sedan, with 13.1 cubic feet of volume in the trunk. However, if you want to be able to fit more than four or five carry-on suitcases in the back, the M5 is a better option with 18.7 cubes. Fortunately, you can fold the rear seats in a 60/40 split for more space, or if that's not good enough, there is a wagon version of the E63 which is probably the ultimate way to go fast and justify your $100,000 price tag.
In the cabin, front and rear passengers each have access to a pair of cupholders, while up front there is a small bin beneath the center armrest, with decent space in the door cards too. The center console also has a spot for your phone where you can also charge it wirelessly.
The E63 S is expensive, but it does make up for that to a degree with its vast standard equipment. Among this are the aforementioned drift mode as well as launch control, but also crosswind assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, a surround-view camera, remote start, auto wipers, a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a power trunk lid, and Pre-Safe collision preparation. Among the more interesting features are a standard 12.3-inch digital driver display, a 64-color ambient lighting system, an automatic parking system, heated and ventilated front seats, and wireless charging. Optional features include adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, heated rear seats, heated armrests, and a heated steering wheel. Also available are massaging front seats, tri-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, soft-close doors, a head-up display with a lap timer, and a slew of driver aids. These optional aids include adaptive cruise control, and semi-autonomous driving tech like active steering assist with evasive steering, active blind-spot assist with lane-keeping function, lane-change assist, and active brake assist with a cross-traffic function. Full-speed autonomous braking and side- and rear-collision preparation systems are also available.
The infotainment system includes a secondary 12.3-inch display supplementing the one used for the driver's cluster. This screen can be controlled via the touchpad in the center console or steering-mounted buttons and includes navigation with traffic updates, voice control, an SD card reader, three USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system. The wireless charger also allows your smartphone to pair using NFC contact. An optional Burmester sound system upgrade adds an additional ten speakers for a totally immersive aural experience, while a Wi-Fi hotspot with TuneIn Radio is also available.
The 2020 model year of the Mercedes-AMG E63 S has not yet been subject to any recalls, but it is worth noting that 2019's model had one recall for the active brake assist system that would not always engage properly. In terms of warranty, Mercedes offers a limited four-year/50,000-mile warranty as well as a powertrain warranty for the same period. However, no complimentary scheduled maintenance is offered, which is odd when most rivals in this segment, including BMW do offer the service. A range of extended warranty and maintenance options are optionally available, however.
The 2020 E63 S has not been rated by the NHTSA, but they have awarded the regular sedan on which the E63 is based with a maximum five stars out of five. Meanwhile, the IIHS has also awarded the regular E-Class a Top Safety Pick+ when the adaptive LED headlights are specced, and their best possible rating of Good in all other criteria.
Standard safety features on the E63 S include a drowsy driver warning, crosswind assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a parking assistant, a surround-view camera, Pre-Safe collision preparation, and seven airbags with dual front, dual side, dual curtain airbags, and a driver's knee airbag. Options include adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, active blind-spot assist, active lane-keep and lane-change assist, autonomous emergency braking, and collision preparation systems for side and rear impacts. Also available is a head-up display as well as adaptive LED headlights.
With luxury features aplenty, both as standard and as part of the options list, as well as a comprehensive suite of available driver aids, the E63 S is a comfortable and safe vehicle with numerous stand-out features like massaging seats and even an ambient lighting system that can help to relax you. However, what matters is if it's any good as a performance vehicle, otherwise, the AMG badge is unfounded. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is certainly powerful enough, and while other options out there may be more powerful or cheaper, the E63 S carries with it a sense of style and elegance that few can come close to imitating. Its adaptive all-wheel-drive system that allows varying degrees of control as well the option to completely disconnect the front axle for insane burnouts and drifts, also means that it's a hooligan at heart and will be happy to switch personalities when the mood takes you. However, the suspension is a little too taut for daily use in anything but its softest setting, and that $107,000 price tag is hard to ignore, especially when you consider that very few of the available safety features come standard. We'd rather save some cash and go for something less pricey but just as stylish, like the E53.
In base form, the E63 S comes with a starting price of $107,350, before the obligatory $995 destination fee and any other taxes and fees that may apply. Fully loaded with options like a 23-speaker Burmester sound system, a panoramic sunroof, matte paint, massaging seats, a head-up display, carbon-ceramic brakes, the available driver assistance package, and more, many of which will notably enhance the luxury, performance, and safety chops of the vehicle, you can easily spend close to $150,000.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S comes in a single trim variant with one engine, gearbox, and drivetrain configuration. This $107,350 behemoth comes with a 603-hp twin-turbo V8 with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and switchable all-wheel-drive. Also included are 20-inch wheels, an AMG Performance exhaust, Nappa leather upholstery, a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, a pair of 12.3-inch digital screens for the driver info display and infotainment system, and COMAND navigation. Additionally, you'll find a power trunk lid, wireless charging, SiriusXM satellite radio, and smartphone connectivity through Apple and Android car services. Heated and ventilated front seats and a 64-color customizable ambient lighting system are also standard. Options include massaging front seats, heated armrests and steering wheel, and heated rear seats. Adaptive LED headlights, carbon-ceramic brakes, a head-up display with a lap timer, and a panoramic sunroof are additionally available, as well as tri-zone climate control, soft-close doors, and a 23-speaker sound system upgrade, also from Burmester. A long list of semi-autonomous driver aids is available, including evasive steering assist and an active lane-change assist system that only requires you to indicate for the vehicle to gauge and take a gap.
|AMG E63 S 4MATIC Sedan||
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Choosing your packages and options should be a carefully considered process, as it's not difficult to spend over $40,000 on additional equipment. Among the things we've found most useful and interesting is the Driver Assistance package. If you spec this on the regular seats (which you should, as the $2,500 Performance seats are too rigid and stiff), you get a host of semi-autonomous driving aids as well as Pre-Safe Impulse Side. This feature can inflate the seat on the side closest to an impact to help minimize the force transferred by a side-impact collision. The entire suite of aids adds $2,250 to your starting price. Three-zone climate control costs $760 and is available as a standalone option, while the 23-speaker Burmester audio upgrade with "3D surround sound" costs $4,550. A heated steering wheel is just $250, but adding heating for the rear seats, front armrests, and steering wheel will cost a total of $1,300.
Since the 2020 model year of Mercedes-AMG's E63 S is only available in a single variant, the choices come down to options. We'd save money on metallic paint and rather have ours in a plain but menacing black, with similar treatment for the seats. With plenty of space in the back for passengers, upgrading their comfort levels with three-zone climate control and heated rear seats is worthwhile. We'd avoid the uncomfortable AMG Performance front seats, despite their racy look, and rather invest in massaging function for the front perches. The upgraded sound system is also unnecessary, as 13 speakers should be more than enough - you don't need to see sounds, just hear them. We'd also definitely recommend upgrading the car's safety with the Driver Assistance package and adaptive LED headlights. All in, this spec would cost a little more than $112,000.
Comparing apples with apples, the E63 S has its most obvious and direct rival in the upgraded BMW M5 Competition. It also costs around $110,000 (although the base model starts off at a little over $102,000) and is also powered by a twin-turbo V8. It also has an automatic gearbox and can switch between all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive. The M5 Comp's 4.4-liter engine produces 17 hp more than the base M5 and 14 more than the E63 S with 617 hp, but makes less torque (553 lb-ft versus 627 lb-ft). Despite weighing less, the M5 Competition is less economical but makes up for it with a much larger trunk, with 5.6 cubic feet more volume. Where the Merc offers more special features like an air-fragrance system, the M5 has always aimed to be a more sporty option. Nevertheless, these two are very similarly matched in most areas, and the choice will likely come down to what a person feels when driving the vehicle. For us, we're fans of the BMW's more compliant ride and more daily-drivable nature. Also, the Merc's column-mounted shifter is an annoyance.
With the $74,00 E53 available, one may wonder why the E63 S even exists. The smaller-engined E from AMG has a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six with hybrid assistance, the same nine-speed auto gearbox, and all-wheel-drive too. With most of the same options and standard features, as well as the same trunk volume and cabin space, the E53 makes us question if you need more than 429 hp. The E53 not only looks just as good and can be just as luxurious, but it also gets far better fuel economy too: 21/28/24 mpg versus the E63's 15/23/18. Obviously, Mercedes needs a vehicle that can continue the direct rivalry with the M5, but in reality, the reason that the E63 S exists is not that the E53 is underpowered - it's that people will always be prepared to pay more for a car that sits at the top of a range's food chain. This has been proven time and time again, but for us, the $30,000 premium and considerably worse fuel economy aren't justified by the insane power plant. We'd be just as happy in the E53.