AMGs in recent times used to be simple engine upgrades. Enormous power, but little else was done to the car. The C63 AMG changed that, and this new Mercedes E63 AMG continues the theme.
So the stock E-Class front air suspension is binned for springs and dampers, the gearbox is an AMG-automated manual and the front track has been widened. The suspension is still adaptable, though - there are two settings, Sport and Sport Plus, which match the four settings on the gearbox, Comfort, Sport, Sport, Plus and Manual.
All of which means the E63 does a neat thing of being a two-trick pony. I only had the chance to drive it on a circuit, but the ride feels like it will manage the motorway trawl without rattling your dentures out. Flick it to Sport Plus, though, spec the carbon ceramic brakes at about £7,000 and you've got a car that feels surprisingly at home on the race track.
Chassis feel is excellent, steering feel a bit less so, but given the weight and size of the car, agility is pretty impressive. It certainly feels as if it'll give the BMW M5 a stern test - if not in out and out handling, but in everyday useability.
Don't panic - the huge power and torque figures are still there. 518bhp and 464lb ft from the 6.2-litre engine, to be precise. For the anoraks among you, that's less power than an Audi RS6, but speed is never an issue in this car.
What might be is the impression of speed. My judgement was distorted because of the circuit, but it feels like this will sit happily at 120mph plus all day long. In that respect, then, it's identical to AMGs of old.