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.
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.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG E63 S 4MATIC Sedan||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
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.
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.
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.
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