One of the astonishing constants of the car industry is that every time the E63’s engine gets smaller, so does its 0-100km/h time.
For example, it had a 6.2-litre atmo V8 with 386kW back in 2009 and punched to triple figures in 4.3 seconds (faster than the current M5, by the by). It went to a biturbo 5.5-litre V8 in 2011 and by 2013 it was ripping by 100km/h in 3.6 seconds.
Now AMG has shrunk the engine down to just 4.0-litres and not only is the biturbo V8 even faster, but it’s the most powerful E-Class ever built. Ever.
The list of supercars that punch to 100km/h in less than 3.5 seconds is actually a surprisingly small one. Now you can add to that list a full five seat sedan with plenty of luggage space, every scrap of semi-autonomous and safety tech of the E-Class and an all-wheel drive launch that gets it there in 3.4 seconds.
With 450kW from a modular M177 V8 with its pair of twin-scroll turbos tucked up inside the vee (just like the M5 and the RS6), it’s not just powerful. It’s got torque. It’s got 850Nm of torque from 2500rpm until 4500rpm, then the power takes over at 5750rpm and doesn’t trail off until 6500rpm. So cop that.
It’s a performance envelope that would frighten Thor, putting the M5’s 423kW and 680Nm firmly in the shade and even out-rating AMG’s own GT R monster.
And one of the great highlights for us is that AMG and Mercedes have finally built a hi-po capable all-wheel drive system it can bolt in for the world’s right-hand drive markets, so we actually get the E63 S (which used to be known as the Performance Pack) and don’t get fisted again with the more humble E63 stocker that needs, wait for it, an extra tenth of a second to get to 100km/h.
It all bites down on staggered 20-inch wheels and tyres via a four-link front end, a five-link rear end and an electronically controlled limited slip rear diff. Meanwhile, the whole all-wheel drive system is biased towards acting like a rear-wheel drive as often as possible.
The automatic moves to a nine-speed transmission but, in the best Affalterbach tradition, AMG unbolts the heavy torque converter from Benz and fits it with its own wet-clutch setup. Just like it did to the old seven-speeder for years.
Lairy wings might be absent, but don’t think AMG hasn’t done plenty of bodywork to the E63 S. The wheelarches had to be pushed out 17mm over the stock W213 bodyshell to accommodate the rubber for example, and it needed more brake and engine cooling, so the air intakes have proper gravitas.
And so do the anchors. The stock E63’s front discs are 360mm steel jobbies, the S pushes that out to 390mm and there are carbon-ceramics for people who think that something around $250,000 isn’t quite enough on a lease payment.
But if watching the pennies somehow correlates to your idea of living with an E63 S, then they’ve fitted the M177 with cylinder deactivation, too. It will shut down cylinders two and three on the right bank and five and eight on the left at light throttle (between 1000 and 3250rpm), though it can jump back into V8 mode more or less instantly if you thump it. That pulls the consumption down to 9.2 litres/100km on the NEDC, or 203 grams of CO2/km.
For all that trickery, AMG insists that all you really have to do to hurl yourself to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds is to engage Sport, Sport Plus or Race mode, press the brake pedal hard and stand on the accelerator pedal. Then you just step off the brake and unleash a fury that doesn’t stop until it hits the limiter at 250km/h (or the uprated big-boy limiter at 300km/h).
DRIFT MODE DONE RIGHT
All-wheel drive brings more grip, but will this alienate the giggle-happy slides the old car was so fond of? Well, the E63 S’s Race mode effectively decouples the front differential, feeding all of that power and torque through the limited-slip rear differential.
And if the ESP is off and the tranny is in manual mode, you can switch on a drift mode, frying up the 295/30 ZR20 rear boots in a controlled way that won’t let the car get completely out of control or turn around on the ham-fisted.
There are detractors out there who criticise drift modes, but they’re a lot more responsible, in real terms and under closed driving conditions, than switching off the skid-control system altogether, which even humble hatchbacks do with varying success.