by Jake Lingeman
It's too bad that sedans are a dying breed because Mercedes-AMG is not-so-quietly building some of the best four-doors in the business. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S sedan is a superlative example, working especially well when you need to be conscious of size. As fun as the C-Class is, it feels a little small for an adult family. And the S-Class is huge. But the E-Class platform is small enough to be a nimble, high-performance machine, and large enough to not be overwhelmed by the 603 horsepower produced by the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 under the hood.
Newly facelifted for 2021, what you get for that is a smorgasbord of power, luxury, and handling, most of which is done for you through modern technology. The interior is a mix of a computer program and a tightly designed bank vault. The gauges are three-dimensional screens and the electronic nannies are paying attention, always. Of course, if the mood strikes, one can always turn off the all-wheel-drive system and go full hero in drift mode. The E63 isn't alone in its ability to do this, however, as the BMW M5 seemingly mirrors the AMG's performance specs and drivetrain shenanigans, although both are more hooliganish than the Audi RS7.
Mercedes-AMG gave the entire E-Class lineup, including the E63 S, a thorough facelift for the 2021 MY. In addition to a new grille with a more prominent Mercedes badge, new 20-inch alloys, slimmer taillights, the interior now boasts two 12.3-inch displays and the MBUX touch- and voice-activated infotainment system. There's also a new twin-spoke steering wheel design with haptic buttons and larger paddle shifters.
The updated E63 S comes with six driving modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual and Race. The Manual transmission mode is now independent of the drive mode selector, granting the owner access to manual shifts without scrolling through the available options. Mercedes-AMG also claims that it retuned the air suspension to make the car more comfortable in its more sedate modes.
There is only one model to choose from, and it has an MSRP of $107,500. This excludes Merc's destination charge of $1,050. Since there is only one model to choose from, we decided to see what the price of the E63 S Sedan looks like after you add some extras. We went for the epic matte Brilliant Blue ($3,950) and coupled it with matte black 20-inch wheels for an additional $2,000. We then added both AMG Carbon Fiber packages. We kept it relatively simple on the inside: Black Nappa leather and metal weave to add a bit of sparkle. We chose the high-end Burmester surround-sound system, head-up display, and fast-charging USB ports for the rear seats from the standalone options. Obviously, the Driver Assistance Package is a must. The total for all of this, including the destination charge, is $122,900. That's still getting away lightly, though, and fully loaded, the price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 Sedan can reach nearly $150,000.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG E63 S 4MATIC Sedan||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
It's a rocket, it's a lightning bolt, it's a laser beam, or any other manner of supernaturally fast force. But it's not just the power, it's the delivery. Mercedes uses a nine-speed gearbox, which means any gear is ready at any time. And in one of the more aggressive drive modes, it'll shove you back in the seats as it grabs two or three downshifts at a time. But the experience can be tailored to suit.
In addition to your traditional drive modes (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual, and Race) the E63 S also has four AMG Dynamics modes (Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master), overarching computer programs that adjust the differential, all-wheel drive, and other parameters. The combinations are nearly endless. In Sport, Sport Plus, and Race, all you have to do is pin the brake, then pin the throttle for perfect launches.
We like Sport Plus engine and transmission mode the best, but we tweaked it with a softer suspension for our customizable, Individual setting. That means takeoffs are immediate, but the suspension isn't too jarring.
Even in that softer suspension mode, this E63 is stiff, though. The 20-inch wheels with low-profile performance tires don't do it any favors either. But on the bright side, that double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension, combined with the speed-sensitive steering, make this sedan feel like a much smaller car. Outputs are immediate, so much so that you'll have to get used to starting your turns later than you'd normally expect to. Between the speed and control, hitting gaps in traffic is an easy point-and-shoot affair.
When we talk about the German super-sled triumvirate, we're talking about three road trip killers from Audi, Mercedes, and BMW. The M5 and this E63 S are closely matched. The M5 comes with 600 hp, and this with 603. The M starts at $103,500 while the E63 S comes in at $107K. An Audi RS6 sedan would be the perfect comparison to these hot rods, but that moniker is currently reserved for the gorgeous Avant wagon, leaving the more expensive, less powerful RS7 to do battle with 590 hp. Ultimately, these are three high-performance competitors that all follow a very similar brief.
This fifth-gen E-Class has been around since 2017. Four years usually means the kinks have been worked out. Everything, from electronics to drive modes, worked flawlessly in our week with the vehicle and we can't recommend it enough, even over the bigger S-Class. This E 63 is big enough to carry adults in comfort but small enough to still feel nimble when shooting gaps in traffic. And nothing sounds like a Mercedes AMG at full tilt.
What you should do is skip the super sedans and get the wicked Audi RS6 Avant wagon. It has similar power but way more space. However, if you're stuck on sedans we'd start the test drives at the Mercedes dealer with this E63 S. The BMW M5 would be our next choice. It seems a little more boring because it looks more like the standard car than the Mercedes and isn't quite as vocally arousing, but it's a sharper driver's tool if that's what you're after.
If you're stuck on the E63 S, and we wouldn't blame you, there are only a few option packs to choose from. The first two are carbon fiber-related, but we'd skip these visual enhancements and add something more meaningful in the $1,950 Driver Assistance Package with all of the semi-autonomous features. The AMG head-up display is another nice-to-have, and pairs brilliantly with the augmented reality navigation.
The AMG E63 S is the top of the food chain in E-Class land, but you can get yourself another AMG for a smaller price that will be almost as fun as this brawler. It's called the E53 and instead of the handcrafted 4.0L twin-turbo V8, it comes with Mercedes' buttery smooth 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six making 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque with a little augmentation from an electric motor to sweeten the pot. It's also about $34,000 less than this E63, making it a tempting choice, and probably the value proposition we'd pick.
This is one of the oldest battles in automotive history, and it's always interesting to see how they evolve in the same way. The BMW follows the same recipe as the Mercedes: a twin-turbo V8 for power, sent to an all-wheel-drive system. Heck, BMW even offers a drift mode. In standard guise, the M5 has a little less power at just 600 hp and 553 lb-ft, but opt for the Competition Package, and 617 hp starts looking a whole lot healthier. The AMG's 627 lb-ft still trumps the M5's 553 lb-ft and is the main reason it manages to be equally fast despite weighing more.
There's very little separating these cars. The BMW has a larger trunk, but the Merc's interior is more memorable. Traditionally, the BMW M5 has always been just a tiny bit sportier, and once again, this is the case. Especially in the Competition guise, which is the S's natural rival. Historically, this meant the BMW was always in the lead, albeit by the slightest of margins. These days it is too close to call. We reckon it will come down to either brand preference or which car you prefer after driving both.
We will say this, however. Traditionally, the best car is the newest. It's no longer possible to look at this duo without considering the Audi RS7 as well.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 Sedan's $100k+ sticker price is quite shocking. That's what supercars cost not that long ago. For that reason, we'd look a little further down the range at one of AMG's new in-between models, explicitly created to fill the gap between the humdrum sedans and the absolutely insane full-on AMG products. In this case, it's the $73,900 E53.
The E53 uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six with hybrid assistance to produce 429 hp. That's a massive power deficit, but you have to ask yourself if you need 600+ horsepower daily. The E53 is also more economical, boasting EPA-estimated figures of 21/28/24 mpg. The practical side of our brain is bellowing that the E53 is more than fast enough, more practical, and friendlier to the environment. But the fun side of the brain can't help but be charmed by the Gatling gun soundtrack and the stupid amount of power, plus the fact that 0 to 60 comes up a full 1.1 seconds quicker. Knowing that internal combustion is on a slow march toward death, we can't let the opportunity to own one of the great powerplants of all time pass us by. For that reason, we'd be completely illogical and get the full-fat E63 S, even if it does come at the cost of $3,000 per tenth of a second.