It seems odd to say it, but in this era of environmental concerns and financial instability, one of the biggest success stories in the car industry is AMG. The brand has been enjoying record sales, thanks to an expanding line-up that includes everything from hot hatches (A 45 AMG) to sports cars (AMG GT). It also has a hypercar on the way in the shape of the Project One.
AMG is known for its V8s, though; and even when faced with demands for greater fuel efficiency, the firm’s engine wizards have found ways of keeping the legendary layout relevant. And now we’re planning to see how this science works out in everyday life, because we’ve just taken delivery of an E 63 S Estate for the next six months.
Under the bonnet lies AMG’s latest twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, a motor closely linked to that in the AMG GT. In our ‘S’ version the engine serves up 604bhp and a walloping 850Nm of torque between 2,500rpm and 4,500rpm. Add a nine-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, and you have the recipe for a two-tonne estate to go from 0-62mph in just 3.4 seconds.
The top speed is ‘limited’ to 186mph because the E 63 S also gets the AMG Driver’s package as standard.
It is supercar fast. Such is the level of performance, in fact, that each E 63 S comes with a free driver training session at Mercedes’ impressive ‘experience’ and dealer facility at Brooklands in Surrey.
When we arrived for our photoshoot, staff were preparing for half a dozen new AMG owners to get a briefing and then some useful instruction.
It makes perfect sense to us, because our early experience of the car is that it is shatteringly rapid; and that, even with four-wheel drive, it will allow you quite a lot of play before it scoops you up and reins things back in.
This is especially evident in anything other than Comfort mode, because the more focused settings ramp up the gearshifts and firm up the car’s standard air suspension, giving it a more capable, but slightly less tolerant character.
Cold winter mornings have also exposed the fact that the car’s high-performance Michelin rubber isn’t at its best until it has warmed up; that’s another reason why learning how to cope with slip, in controlled conditions on the track, is a good idea.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S behaves in clogged-up traffic on my commute; but we’ll also try to get a bit of track time, or even do a cross-continent journey, amid the everyday humdrum. This car deserves nothing less.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.