There are cars that are fast and cars that are practical, but few that are both. Imagine if your family runabout could sprint to 60 in the blink of an eye, sound like thunder and turn its tyres to smoke just moments after dropping the kids to school. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate might just be the paradox of your dreams.
From a distance you could easily mistake its boxy silhouette for any other family workhorse, but a few steps closer reveals a machine that’s gone from geography teacher to hitman. Swollen wheel arches, muscular creases, deep grills – it’s undergone the full AMG treatment, and it’s not just an everyday E-Class wearing its pants on the outside, either.
This distilled aggression is backed up by a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 packing 603bhp and 627lb ft of torque. That makes it more potent than a Lamborghini Huracan. All of that grunt is channeled to the Tarmac via a nine-speed automatic gearbox and, for the first time on an E63, all-wheel drive. With a 0-62mph time of just 3.5 seconds, the AMG metamorphosis is more than skin-deep.
Reading those headline figures you would be forgiven for forgetting that the E63 Estate is actually ideal for taking your dog to the beach. A vast 640-litre boot is much larger than that of an Alpina B5 Wagon. The practicality continues with loads of space for the outermost rear passengers, although the middle occupant will have to straddle a large transmission hump.
Amongst the plush finishes and widescreen displays are a few choice AMG touches. A chunky wheel with Alcantara trim, bolstered sports seats and the obligatory AMG tattoos bring a bit of muscle to an otherwise elegant interior.
How does it drive?
Tootling about town, the E63 drives much like a regular E-Class. Ok, so the ride is a bit choppy on our crumbling British roads thanks to its large alloys and sporty suspension, but you can soften it a little using the standard adjustable dampers. Big windows make it easy to see out of and, if you stay away from the noisy pedal, relatively refined on the move.
It’s only when you begin to get generous with the throttle that this wolf sheds its sheep’s clothing. Engage launch control and prepare to detonate the twin-turbocharged V8 atom bomb under the bonnet. The car leaps into action without hesitation, all four wheels making the most of the sheer grunt on offer. You’re sucked back into your seat and a thunderous symphony narrates as the horizon hurtles towards you. A nine-speed automatic transmission cracks the whip, each upshift accompanied by an octane induced fart.
The E63 S isn’t just impressive in a straight line. The combination of grip and composure on the twisty stuff enables you to cover ground at quite a rate of knots. Its weighty steering is precise and purposeful, keenly guiding the car’s nose to the apex. For all intents and purposes this AMG still feels rear-wheel driven with its clever 4Matic system working away in the background. The all-wheel drive system is there to enhance the fun, not spoil it.
Setting the car free on track allows you to stretch its legs without going to prison. Here you can play alchemist turning pure rubber into smoke as you fling this muscle car sideways. The all-wheel drive system allows you to recover from crazy drift angles by using its front wheels to pull you back from the brink. Purists will be pleased to know that E63 S models have a selectable rear-wheel drive mode to really put the fear of god into the rear tyres.
Should I buy one?
Is that even a question? Beg, borrow, steal if you have to. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is one of the most intoxicating cars on sale today. Its performance is addictive, practicality superb and overall character unmistakable.
It’s only real stumbling block is the lb90k asking price, but then in a backwards sort of way you could argue that it’s good value, and it’s certainly on a par with the very few equivalent rivals such as the alpine B5 and BMW M5. Could this be the only car you ever need to own? We think so.