Mercedes-Benz unleashes a 603-horsepower family four-door thrill-ride. Road Test Editor Howard Walker tries his best to tame the beast.
Wiktionary defines a blunt instrument as a heavy object, without sharp edges, used as a weapon. Or an imprecise or heavy-handed way of doing something. A perfect description, no less, for the new Mercedes-Benz E63 S, a 603-horsepower, twin-turbo’d V8 blunt-instrument rolling on Darth-Vader-noir 20-inch forged cross-spoke rims.
How else could you possible describe a family four-door that can lunge from standstill to 60 mph in an insane, tire-shrieking 3.3 seconds, pull an easy 1g of lateral acceleration through an Interstate on-ramp, and hit its electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph without breaking a sweat?
And I haven’t even mentioned the sound track that blasts from the quartet of rear pipes. Krakatoa in full lava-spew, Concorde on takeoff, KISS playing I Love it Loud can’t match the Merc’s melodious muffler!
This is Mercedes-Benz’ fastest four-door sedan, for the guy or gal who would love to own a two-door Merc-AMG GT R supercar but needs a back seat for the kids, and a trunk that carries more than a box of golf balls. Priced from $104,400 – or as in the case of our test car, $131,140 very nicely loaded – it’s the car that locks horns with Cadillac’s 640-horsepower CTS-V and BMW’s 600-horsepower ‘18 M5.
To lovers of stealth, the beauty of the E63 S is that it kinda looks like the car your podiatrist might drive. Take away the big rims and air-gulping front spoiler and you have a four-door E-Class sedan with all the visual excitement of tofu. Paint it matte-black and no one would give it a second look. Which, in the case of the AMG-tuned 63, is a good thing as the car is pretty much incapable of staying anywhere close to a posted speed limit. Fifty-five on an empty freeway? Ain’t gonna happen!
The source of all this spontaneous combustion is a hand-built 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 shoehorned under the hood. It’s essentially the same motor that propels Merc’s hip-high AMG GT R supercar, though the insanity is that the E63’s engine cranks out 26 more horseys than the GT R’s – 603 compared to 577. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic, strengthened to handle the V8’s 627 foot pounds of torque, that channels all that oomph to each wheel courtesy of a new, rear-biased four-wheel-drive system. And the nine-speed comes with a wonderful pick ‘n mix of settings to suit your driving frame of mind. There’s Comfort for everyday cruising, to Sport, Sport+ – my favorite – and Race for full-on, white-knuckle festiveness!