First drive: Mercedes-AMG E63 S
It’s the evil twin of the E-class and it’s mental. At least that’s what we guess, for now
So, I see a bigger C-class with tonnes of body kit.
You're right, there's lots of kit on this Mercedes, but this ain't a bigger C, it's the standard version of the new E-class that we aren't used to seeing in India, and it has now received that coveted certificate of 'Masters of Craziness from AMG'. So, what you see here is the Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic+
That's fantastic and it looks quite purposeful, doesn't it?
Purposeful, that's aptly described. The AMG-spec grille, those massive air intakes on the bumper, the subtle addition of carbon fibre and the quad tailpipes give the E63 the demeanour of an athlete that's game for a sprint even in the middle of the night. And if all that doesn't tell you about its intentions, one look at the 20-inch wheels should confirm this isn't just a chauffeur-driven baby S.
Must make you feel special on the insides, too?
Certainly. As with any performance car, this one's cabin too is swathed in carbon fibre and with an all-black interior theme, the E63 S looks dapper. Plus, those figure-hugging AMG seats up front are a certain highlight in here. You obviously won't have acres of space at the back like in the extended E, but that doesn't mean it’s cramped. You can stretch your limbs to acceptable levels, however, the rear seats themselves aren't all that comfortable and a tad too small for our liking.
You sat in the backseat? Why?
Just for you, our valued readers. I wanted to get you a hands-on review of the 'Mental E', which saw me... ah wait, who am I bluffing. In reality, at the desi launch of the new E63 S, we had very limited time with the car on the Buddh International Circuit, Noida. In fact, so limited, it feels like I'd driven the E63 S in my dreams wherein I faintly remember being at the wheel and going around the track at moderately high speeds. I'm no Lewis Hamilton, to be able to figure out a 604bhp super-sedan in a matter of 3 minutes, and I’d be lying if I said I did engage the 'Drift Mode'.
Back to the rear seat, then.
Yes, for obvious reasons, the rear seat isn't as generous and welcoming as the EWB sedan's. I did find the seat squab to be a bit tiny, it lacked under-thigh support and didn't recline either. But then who would want to sit in the backseat when there are 604 horses lurking under that hood.
Before I try and describe my time at the wheel, one look at the numbers
The E63 S breathes through the same motor as the other 63s; so there's the 4.0-litre V8 which now makes 604bhp and 850Nm, teamed with a nine-speed, super-slick AMG gearbox that sends power to all four wheel on any normal day, but can channel all of that to the rear wheels on special occasions, like a racetrack outing. Sadly, we weren't allowed to use the 'Drift mode' – the driver coaches had clearly measured up our driving skills the moment we walked into the pits. Claimed 0-100kph time is 3.4 seconds and while I couldn't really V-Box the E63 S, engaging Launch Control did pin me back into the seat every time, giving me enough reason to believe their claims.
Any recollections of your time at the wheel?
I do have a few faint memories of driving it around the track and the first thing I can recollect is the exhaust note from those quad pipes. They roared at full blast, spat under braking and during lift-off, the heavy bass just fills your ears no matter what the revvs are. It does make you feel special. Oh, the driving part. Turn 1 was manageable, T2 was flat-out, a slow exit through T3 and I floored the throttle pedal. Yes, I remember how bloody quick it felt on the back-straight, hitting 240kph in no time, effortlessly. But strangely, the dashboard read out a message to the effect that my E63 was wearing winter tyres and I couldn't go beyond 240.
Never mind. Hard braking at T4 felt a bit soft for my liking, T5 was easy, and then the series of fast corners gave a positive feel of the well-weighted steering wheel. Turning in without the tail sliding intentionally felt doable, but then, I wasn't going pedal-to-the-metal as I only had a lap and a half to really try out at least 400 horses of the 604. Later, I figured the car I drove had the standard steel brakes, which did go a bit soft after a couple of "hot" laps by other journalists – but you can certainly opt for the ceramic brakes and boost your chances of living.
Yes, this is all I remember of driving the most powerful stock AMG in the world on one of the best racetracks in the world. Wait, I just remembered, if you opt for an AMG Race pack, top speed can be extended to 300kph. And in order to burn some rubber, you need to activate Race mode, switch to manual control of gears and turn traction control fully off. Then you pull both paddles, a screen pops up asking you to confirm you really do want Drift mode, you confirm with the right and there you go – a 600bhp rear-wheel drive super sedan. With no traction control. Obviously, we weren't allowed to do any of the things you just read about.
Your final thoughts
Because this was a first look of sorts, we shall reserve our judgment until we have a proper go in this AWD/RWD 604bhp super sedan. But as for first impressions, the AMG E63 S does feel special in the way it looks, inside and out. It sounds good, has numbers to match the show and at Rs 1.5 crore, ex-showroom, it's priced on par with its arch rival, the BMW M5. Game on, then.
Specs: 3982cc, V8, 604bhp, 850Nm, 9A, 0-100kph: 3.4 seconds (claimed), top speed: 250kph (300kph with AMG Driver's pack), 1990kg
Price: Rs 1.5 crore, ex-showroom
Verdict: Sounds great, gets you lots visual drama and has the means to thoroughly entertain