by Jared Rosenholtz
Why even buy a supercar anymore? This should be the question on the minds of everyone looking to buy a super sedan like the 2019 Mercedes-AMG E63. When we tested the 2018 S63 Convertible, we came to the same conclusion. If a four-seat convertible with massaging seats and night vision can do 0-60 mph just as quickly, what good is an uncomfortable, mid-engine supercar?
Compared to the S63, the E63 is lighter, more agile, cheaper, just as powerful, and somehow even more ballistic. What started off in life as a run-of-the-mill midsize E-Class, has been tuned and fettled by AMG to become a ripsnorting demon with the urge to grind your spine into dust. Here's a warning before we delve into the E63, don't drive this car with a full bladder because you'll probably need a change of pants.
|AMG E63 S 4MATIC Sedan||
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
As with most mid-size super saloons, the E63 wears its sporty accouterments like a businessman with a wacky tie - everything seems normal, though it is anything but. Look closely and you'll notice this car's wider stance, 20-inch wheels, aggressive fascia, quad-tip exhausts, bronze carbon ceramic brakes, carbon fiber accents, and AMG badges. People who know what this car is will be quick to challenge you at a set of lights, hoping you will indulge their Fast and the Furious Fantasies. Others will simply see a Mercedes E-Class with a flashy color - nothing out of the ordinary.
Styling may be a matter of opinion but I believe the E63 is the most handsome of the super sedans, with the Cadillac CTS-V running a close second. I love how the E-Class remains subtle and elegant while standing out from the crown more than the BMW M5.
The E63 S's hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 produces 603 horsepower and an earth-shaking 627 lb-ft of torque. No, the E63 is not as powerful as the 640-hp CTS-V, nor is it as powerful as the cheaper 707-hp Dodge Charger Hellcat. But unlike the American sedans, the E63 sends its power through a nine-speed automatic transmission to 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive, giving it a decided advantage in acceleration.
To activate launch control, place the car into Sport+ or Race mode, rest your left foot on the brake pedal, mash the throttle, and let go of the brake to enable a 0-60 mph run of just 3.1 seconds. This isn't just quick by super sedan standards, that's supercar fast. Be sure to warn your passengers before engaging launch control because the E63 loves to snap necks.
The RWD American equivalents can't put down their traction as well, and each requires at least half a second longer to reach 60 mph. The M5 and Tesla Model S P100D are the only sedans which stand a chance of keeping up. All of this acceleration doesn't come without cost - fuel economy is 15/23/18 mpg city/highway/combined. I averaged 16.5 during a week of aggressive driving.
Ooph. That's what you'll say everytime you climb into an E63 with the optional AMG Performance Seats. These are the same seats you'd find in the AMG GT Sports car and they seem completely out of place in an otherwise comfortable cabin. The base seats are far more comfortable and can be equipped with massage function for less than the price of these sporty torture chambers. My test car was also fitted with $2,850 worth of carbon fiber interior trim, a constant reminder that this is no ordinary E-Class. If I was ordering the car, I'd opt for the more comfortable seats and one of the less gaudy wood trims.
Ridiculous seats aside, the E63 still boasts one of the best interiors in the mid-size sedan segment. Two connected screens combine to form the infotainment and driver displays and allow for nearly endlessly customization. Mercedes has a new infotainment system on the way called MBUX but this current iteration of Comand is excellent - so long as you are a bit of a techy.
Those who are new to Mercedes may find some of the layered menus to be confusing but Mercedes provides three styles of redundant controls. I personally enjoyed using the Blackberry-style touchpad, conveniently located on the right side of the steering wheel - there is also a rotating knob and separate touchpad on the center console. A separate touchpad is located on the left side of the wheel to control the driver display. There are several customizable themes, each of which is capable of displaying information such as navigation, radio, performance stats, and more.
The wheel itself is leather-wrapped with perforation at 9:00 and 3:00, with a high-quality metallic face. Even the paddle shifters are metallic, giving the feeling of a well-calibrated riffle trigger bang through gears. Adding to the ambiance of the interior is customizable mood lighting, which can be set to one of 64 different colors or a combination of two different colors - the lights even turn red or blue when you adjust the temperature.
Moving to the back seat, the E63, thankfully, feels more like a normal E-Class. Even with the optional AMG Performance seats up front, the rear seats remain a comfortable leather bench with a healthy 35.8 inches of leg room. The rear seats also offer 60-40 split folding into a trunk with 13 cubic feet of storage. The E-Class sedan isn't the most effective cargo hauler in its class but Mercedes makes up for this by being the only German automaker to sell a high-performance wagon in the US. That's right, you can buy the 603-hp E63 as a wagon with 35 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. As much as I love the E63 sedan, the wagon is the one I would recommend.
Under most driving circumstances, the E63 feels remarkably like a standard E-Class. In Comfort mode, you can barely hear the 4.0-liter V8 and the transmission rarely requires a downshift to provide a surge of power. The V8 can even shut down four of its eight cylinders to save fuel and the transmission can decouple to provide smooth deceleration. Sport ended up being my go-to mode, as it shuts off the stop/start, sharpens the accelerator, and dials up the shift speed. Stepping up to Sport+ further increases the car's ferocity, though not enough to really notice it on the street.
Race mode is exactly how it sounds, so you'd better have a track handy to activate it. In Race mode, the car holds gears for as long as possible, stiffens the suspension to its most aggressive setting, and dials back the traction control to allow more wheel slip. Even with AWD, the E63 shimmies when you mash the throttle, reminding you not to take the E63 lightly just because it puts on a friendly facade in Comfort mode.
Mercedes also includes a tire-shredding Drift mode. But it's a bit cumbersome to activate: Put the car into race mode, change the transmission to manual, hold the traction control button for a few seconds until it deactivates fully, pull both shift paddles at the same time, then pull the right paddle to confirm. Once this is done, the E63 effectively becomes RWD with no traction control, allowing you to slide the car with ease. Just be sure you have a wide-open space because having 603 hp sent to the rear wheels isn't for the faint of heart. BMW includes a similar function on the M5, allowing owners to have the best of both worlds - AWD grip and RWD tire shredding.
Drift mode aside, if you don't posses professional training, the E63 makes it easy for anyone to drive quickly. The suspension, while firm, isn't unbearable for everyday driving. The steering lacks the precision of an old-fashioned sports car but it offers enough weight to keep the driver involved. Overall, it is nearly impossible to fault the E63 on its driving dynamics - just don't opt for those silly seats!
For better or worse, AMG still subscribes to its One-Man, One-Engine philosophy, where each motor is hand-built by a single person. In the case of my test car, the engine was built by Sebastian Zielger. In the past, this philosophy has meant exorbitant replacement costs for engines, though this 4.0-liter mill is a bit too new to predict its overall reliability.
I also experienced another issue worth mentioning - an infuriating rattle emanating from the upper interior controls. Using my hand I was able to pinpoint the problem to a piece of plastic near the rearview window. When the car was driven over rough pavement, the rattling became quite pronounced. This issue likely has an easy fix at a dealer but a car this expensive shouldn't have any rattling interior pieces.
Speaking of expensive, you'd better sit down before I reveal the pricing - it's $106,350. This may sound like a lot but it is only around $4,000 more than the BMW M5 and around $7,000 less than the aging Audi RS7. Meanwhile, the Cadillac CTS-V is a relative bargain at under $87,000 and the all-electric Tesla Model S P100D is the priciest starting at $135,000.
My test car quickly tallied up an even larger price tag with numerous options. The full list includes Cardinal Red Metallic paint ($1,080), carbon fiber trim ($2,850), ceramic brakes ($8,950), carbon fiber engine cover ($1,500), 20-inch forged wheels ($1,700), performance exhaust ($1,250), head-up display ($990), performance seats ($2,500), Exterior Carbon Fiber Package I and II ($2,950 and $1,750), Acoustic Comfort Package ($1,100), Exterior Lighting Package ($750), and Driver Assistance Package ($2,250).
As-tested, this 2019 E63 S boasted an eye-watering sticker price of $137,880. Except for the performance wheels and exhaust, most options can be ignored. Although I'd be tempted to add massaging front seats for $1,320 and call it a day at just over $111,000.
Without the aggressive seats, the 2019 Mercedes E63 offers one of the ultimate combinations of speed, luxury, and refinement on the market. Few cars can keep up with the E63 and less than a handful can keep up while also offering four doors and five seats. It may be expensive and the ride may not be as plush as what you'd find in a standard luxury car, though this is the sacrifice you need to be willing to make for a four-door sedan that can embarrass supercars in a drag race.
Even among the fabulous AMG lineup, the E63 S remains my favorite because it offers the best combination of size, price, and blistering performance. If you've been saving up for a sports car but need a spacious rear seat and trunk, this is the car you need in your life. The 2019 E63 S easily earns a score of Must Buy - just don't opt for the performance seats and, please, get the wagon.