Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

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Mercedes E63 AMG

Road Test

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic driven

Driven April 2013

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Sometimes, it would be so much better if Britain drove on the right. Because if we did, we'd get cars like this, the first ever production AMG to get all-wheel drive. It's almost enough to make you move to France. Or even Belgium.

It's part of a raft of changes for the E-Class range as a whole - which include styling and safety kit tweaks - and AMG has also added a new S version. And guess what? The S has even more power.

On the old E AMG, there were two power choices - the standard car made do with 518bhp, while a performance pack option upped it to 549bhp. The ‘normal' car now has 549bhp, and the S goes further than that: 577bhp and 590lb ft. Which means that the S 4Matic will crack 0-62mph in just 3.6secs - supercar fast. But because all the UK's cars are RWD only, we'll have to put up with a best time of 4.1secs in the S - which is still... rapid. But we do at least get the S, which will set you back roughly £10,000 extra over the regular E63's £74,945 list price.

But back to my original gripe - no 4Matic in the UK. It wouldn't be so frustrating if it weren't such a game-changing system. You can tell within 30 yards which car you're driving. When you accelerate in a straight line, it grips. When you turn into a corner, it grips. When you boot it in the middle of the corner, it grips.

It's the best of both worlds - still fun, and also faster. Compare it to the RWD version, which is basically in a constant battle between torque and tarmac. The 2WD E is still quick, but it's more of a struggle.

Criticisms? The main one is regarding the 7spd gearbox, because the facelift hasn't made it any quicker. But that applies to both, so isn't a reason to reject the 4Matic. And the nose feels a tiny bit heavier in the 4WD. But not to the point of being frustrating or slow to turn in. You can just feel it.

You can see why AMG reckons nearly 90 per cent of left-hand-drive Es will be 4Matic - it's that good. Now, if only the Brits could contribute to that percentage...

Piers Ward

The numbers
5461cc, V8, 4WD, 577bhp, 590lb ft, 27.6mpg, 242g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 3.6secs, 155mph, 1940kg

The verdict
Four-wheel-drive E63 rewrites the performance saloon car landscape. Which makes it even more disappointing that we don't get it.

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