First Drive Review: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2013.
By Douglas Kott of Road & Track
Ludwigsburg-Asperg, Germany — "Get a bigger hammer" goes the popular adage of shade-tree mechanics, suggesting that many problems can be solved with a blow from an especially large mass affixed to the end of a handle. In the mid-1980s, respected Mercedes-Benz tuner AMG took a mighty swing at supercar performance by essentially shrink-wrapping the W124 E-Class shell around a 360-bhp 5.6-liter V-8. The 183-mph AMG Hammer (an apt name if there ever was one) was forged, and the world of high-performance sedans was changed forever.
More than two decades later, the new E63 AMG is true to the Hammer's original mission, except now there's 6208 cc of hand-assembled 4-cam 32-valve V-8 underhood, and it's housed in the all-new W212 E-Class shell whose rhomboid headlights and rear "Ponton" fender outlines are taken from last year's Fascination concept car. With a full 518 bhp, a peak 465 lb.-ft. of torque at 5200 rpm and a celestial redline of 7200 rpm, this V-8 has more torque than any other naturally aspirated engine in its class. And — best of all — it delivers that power through the magnificent Speedshift MCT-7 transmission that we first saw in the SL63 AMG.
The "MCT" part stands for Multi-Clutch Technology, and the design marries a planetary-gear 7-speed automatic with a compact multi-disc clutch, electronically controlled and running in an oil bath, where a conventional fluid-coupling torque converter would normally be. The result? Lower rotational inertia (effectively, a lighter flywheel) and shifts in just 100 milliseconds in the sportiest "S+" and "M" modes. There's a "Race Start" setting too that will optimize launch rpm; simply select that mode, mash the throttle, release the brake and 60 mph will arrive in just 4.4 seconds, by Mercedes' reckoning.
Select "C," for Controlled Efficiency, and the 2010 E63 will short-shift its way to 12 percent better fuel economy than last year's car (which achieved 12 mpg city/19 mpg highway), despite its 11 additional horsepower. Truthfully, even in this mode you never feel power-deprived. Also contributing to the savings are a low-friction cylinder coating called TWAS (Twin Wire Arc Sprayed), an on-demand fuel pump and an alternator that both decouples on acceleration and works as a generator on overrun and during braking. Still, AMG is unlikely to be on Al Gore's Christmas card list.
Even before you burn that first drop of premium, the E63 looks fast just sitting there. The front track is a significant 2.2 in. wider and has the sheet metal flares to prove it. Distinctive chunky quad tailpipes, aggressive side skirts, a modest trunklid spoiler and the signature "frowning" AMG front fascia complete the look, along with 18- or 19-in. 5-spoke alloys shod with tires of 255- and 285-mm section width, front/rear. The rear multilink suspension gets self-leveling air springs, and the adjustable shocks can be set in three damping modes, ranging from taut to racetrack-ready.
How does it all work? Well, it's difficult to believe a 2-ton sedan can corner so rapidly, with such composure...there's little wasted motion from steering input to chassis reaction. The V-8's sound is deep and glorious, the throttle response crisp and immediate. The MCT gearbox will almost read your mind on downshifts, capable of dropping three gears (7th to 4th, or 5th to 2nd, for example) depending on throttle and braking inputs. Optional carbon ceramic brakes seem like overkill, as the stock system — and I use "stock" loosely, as there are 6-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers — offers a firm pedal, confident initial bite and throw-you-into-the-seatbelts deceleration.
Perhaps this quote sums it up best: "This car, for a big comfortable sedan that you could drive to church, is remarkably steady at these speeds. It certainly has had a thorough engineering job to work so well under these conditions." It's as true now as it was then; these words were spoken by Phil Hill after achieving 183 mph in the Hammer, during our "World's Fastest Cars" test in July 1987.
Mercedes isn't talking MSRPs just yet, but something in the high-$80,000/low-$90,000 range would be a plausible guess. Pricey, yes, but being able to effectively bludgeon most competitors? Priceless.