Yes, it is a station wagon. But it’s also a proper muscle car, just aching to hammer down the road. It’s scary fast, blogs Dan Scanlan.
This fifth-generation E-Class continues the tradition set down in 1986 when a station wagon with a 5.6-liter V-8 tuned by AMG to a then-prodigious 360 horsepower was introduced. Nicknamed the Hammer, it could do 190 mph. Now we have this ‘19 M-B E63 AMG S WAGON: IT’S HAMMER TIME! in red, with almost 150 more horsepower than a base Corvette Grand Sport, twice as many seats, way more cargo space and a bit of a sleeper image.
The ‘19 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Wagon has a hand-built 4-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers, offering 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of peak torque from 2,500 – 4,500 rpm. The signature of the man who built it, Arman Erol, is on a build plate atop it. And behind it lives a Speedshift MCT nine-speed transmission with a wet clutch instead of a torque converter, plus all-wheel-drive. That means whip-snort shifts, very quick downshifts and “refined brutality” when it’s used to its fullest.
Like most Benzes, there are multiple drive settings: Comfort, Individual, Sport, Sport+ and Race to adjust engine and transmission response, traction/stability control, suspension, even exhaust note. Or tap the suspension button and go firm or firmer, yet leave engine, transmission and exhaust note in Comfort. Tap the exhaust enhancement to go from basic snarl to feral growl, complete with explosive exhaust barks on upshifts, a crackle and pop-pop on deceleration. There’s a refined throttle blip on downshifts in Sport, Sport+ and Race modes.
In Sport, throttle response was supercar-like as we launched our 4,669-pound wagon with full fuel load, all four Michelins grabbing, to 60 mph in 4 seconds. Set in Race, engine response and steering really sharpen as shifts come rapid fire and stability control backs off. Launch control is easy – left foot brake, right gas, and when the digital dash flashed red, release the left while hammering the right. Use it and our 5,800-mile-old station wagon hit 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, and 100 mph in 8 seconds, 1G pulled on launch as all 603 horses engaged. Even in Comfort setting, the E63 was eager to pass on demand, quiet bar some tire noise on the highway as we averaged as high as 17 mpg on premium, a figure dropping when we played hard.
The wagon just hoovers itself to the asphalt, stitching itself from apex to apex flat and sans drama, the steering is firm and beautifully weighted, the brakes precise in feel and powerful in application. It all rides on independent, multi-link front and rear suspension with multi-chamber air suspension and continuously variable damping. The air springs stiffen automatically to reduce roll and pitch during sudden load changes, fast cornering, hard acceleration or heavy braking.
The ride in Comfort was well controlled, each rebound well buffered quickly. The car handled securely, the electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential reducing slip on the inside wheel when cornering without brake use, which also let us power out confidently. On an expressway off-ramp, the E63 hung in as if on rails, eliciting surprise from more than one passenger as the seat bolsters inflated on one side to hold us in. We saw .5Gs in flat, unruffled cornering. In Sport+, it was very firm, super-fast in rebound control, but didn’t beat me up.
That 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive and fully-variable torque distribution between front and rear meant the wagon never set a tread wrong on any curve. It would shift power to the front axle as needed immediately. But set in Sport+, the rear wheels work more and the car circled our skid pad almost neutrally at 1G. In fact, “Drift Mode” in Race mode let the tail hang out.
We had no skid pad big enough to try it, but regular Race mode gave us a taste of power tail-out, all very controllable via super-precise steering and throttle control. As for those ventilated and cross-drilled 15.4-in. front disc brakes with six-piston fixed calipers, and 14.2-in. rears with single-piston floating calipers, the pedal was very controllable, with immediate bite as needed and fast, controlled stops from any speed, with no fade after repeated hard use.
Finished in Designo Red Metallic, the shape is current E-Class Sedan through to the B-pillar, and then the wagon adds a sexy, almost coupe-like silhouette with subtly aggressive and very purposeful modifications. It all rides on big, low-profile P265/35ZR20-inch fronts and P295/30ZR20-inch Michelin Pilot Sports in back, mounted on thin-spoke AMG alloy wheels with huge cross-drilled, vented disc brakes and red calipers. The classic grille gets silver vertical slats with the big star flanked by glaring LED headlights with dual LED DRL slashes. AMG sculpted the lower intake and air dam as a wide-mouth, aggressive air-sucking system with polished steel-tipped air dam, while distinct side intakes flare like curled lips. The rear hatch has a gentle rake, the only sign of aggressive intent here a black lower diffuser with quad chromed AMG-badged exhaust tips.
The interior is one of the best Benzes we’ve seen, carbon fiber trimming a sweeping dashboard dotted with alloy eyeball vents, and perforated alloy Burmester speakers on the doors. The AMG sports seats held us in secure and comfortably, with massage, heating and cooling. The three-spoke AMG steering wheel is flattened on the bottom to clear legs, stitched lines top-center so you always know when steering is centered. It’s power tilt and telescoping, with touchpads above cruise, phone, voice command and audio buttons.
Under the hand-stitched dashtop, twin 12.3-inch displays offer a panoramic information image. The gauge display is fully configurable. “Classic” mimics a 200-mph analog speedometer on the left, an 8,000-rpm tach on the right and anything else in the middle. “Sport” and “Progressive” go with a central tach and more display options. Performance displays with turbo boost, horsepower and torque, instant G-Force and others can be configured as well. The black glass flows right into the wide navigation display for navigation, telephone, superb AM-FM-SiriusXM Burmester sound system, Dynamic Select engine/transmission/steering settings, seats and performance displays. It’s all handled by the graceful tap and touchpad over the familiar knurled alloy COMAND knob on the gloss black center console. Buttons to handle Dynamic Select, suspension, exhaust snarl, manual gear selection, and volume flanks it.
The center display also shows a big performance data screen with G-force, horsepower, torque, boost and which way the all-wheel-drive is pulling. At 70 mph on the highway with cruise activated, it needed only an indicated 30 horsepower to maintain speed, the screen showing only rear-wheel-drive engaged. There is even a data recorder with speed, linear acceleration, gas pedal, steering angle, brake pedal use and other info, displayed digitally as well as a graph on a track sector by sector.
Then there’s the “autonomous-ish” driving. In a 45-minute traffic jam, the Mercedes steered, braked and accelerated by itself at the 10- to 15-mph speeds we endured as I kept hands and feet ready, but unneeded. At highway speeds, the car would maintain lane, speed and distance with minimal input, demanding hands on wheel if you tried to let it drive itself. It changes lanes by itself – click the turn signal and it slides into an adjacent lane by itself.
The ‘19 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Station Wagon starts at $108,850 with lots standard but: $2,250 driver assistance package with active cruise control, plus steering and blind spot assist; $800 LED headlights with cornering elements; $1,080 red paint; $125 fragrance system; $1,250 active exhaust; three-zone automatic climate control for $760; $580 heated rear seats; $1,320 active multi-contour front seats with massage; and $990 head-up display; for a total $119,055.
When It’s Hammer Time, this station wagon can haul the family in style and comfort with all their gear, or be tossed around a race track, a practical, powerful precision instrument.
For more information about the latest luxury-performance vehicles, including the ‘19 M-B E63 AMG S WAGON: IT’S HAMMER TIME! from Mercedes-Benz, please visit https://www.mbusa.com/en/home