With BMW’s new all-wheel drive, 600bhp M5 still some weeks away from its reveal and longer still before we drive it, Mercedes-AMG’s new E 63 S has the opportunity to securely cement itself at the top of the super saloon pile before its nemesis from Munich arrives.
This new E 63 S wants for nothing in preparation for taking on the M5. Mercedes calls the E-Class the most intelligent executive saloon and AMG has transformed the E 63 version into the most powerful variant of all time, too. In range-topping S spec, as tested here in the UK for the first time, its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 produces 604bhp and 850Nm of torque. Suspended by active dynamic engine mounts, the revised V8 is mated to the latest nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic gearbox and it will sprint to 62mph in 3.4 seconds; with the optional AMG Driver’s Package fitted it will crack on to 186mph.
If you are thinking the E 63 S’s turbocharged V8 is little more than a tweaked version of the motor fitted to the C 63 S, think again. AMG has replaced the pistons, optimised the air intake and charge air cooler before reprogramming the engine’s ECU software. On top of this, the V8 now features cylinder on demand technology, which cuts down to four-cylinders when driving conditions allow in Comfort mode.
Perhaps the biggest mechanical change is the adoption of four-wheel drive, a first for the UK-bound E 63 (other markets have been offered it on previous versions). Equipped with Mercedes’ latest 4MATIC+ system it continuously adjusts torque to the axle as required, and should you delve into the car’s traction control settings you can turn your E 63 S back to a rear-wheel drive saloon once more by selecting Drift mode. Do that, though, and you’ll have to change gear yourself using the excellent paddles behind the steering wheel and drive round without an electronic safety net in a 1,950kg saloon with over 600 horsepower.
There is, however, an electronically controlled limited-slip diff in the rear axle to help you out, too. Underpinning the E 63 S are coil springs with AMG’s ride control air suspension, 20-inch wheels are standard and our test car was also equipped with £6,995 worth of ceramic composite brakes.
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