Sports sedans blend luxury commuting with near-supercar performance, and nowhere is this seeming dichotomy better resolved than in the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. It’s proven itself as a searingly fast car with Ferrari-frightening acceleration, but with all the executive trappings expected of the three-pointed star.
That star now sits on a new “Panamericana” grille as part of a recent midlife update to the E63 S sedan. The grille, styled with vertical louvres instead of Mercedes’ traditionally horizontal ones, identifies AMG-badged road missiles in the Benz heirarchy.
The updated E63 S also adopts more flared wheel arches to make space for a wider front track, along with a reshaped “jet-wing” front apron and front splitter, which adds styling aggression with more front downforce. The restyle continues with flatter LED rear lights, a high-gloss black diffuser, and 20-inch alloy wheels in a choice of matte black or high-gloss tantalum grey.
An optional AMG Night Package darkens up various parts of the body in high-gloss black, and a Carbon- Fibre Package is available too.
The ready-to-race look is backed up by potent performance, courtesy of the familiar 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine, which has unchanged outputs of 450kW and 850Nm for a quoted 0-100km/h time in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 300km/h.
We put the acceleration claim to the test at Gerotek using a Vbox, and the car hit the 100km/h mark in an impressive 3.49 seconds with the help of its Race Start function. It’s frankly a mind-boggling feat for a large luxury car with space for four to five adults and their luggage; a relatively short time ago such swift sprints were reserved for cramped, light-weight supercars.
The turbo V8 comes on song without any lag and, combined with a crisp-shifting nine-speed AMG Speedshift auto gearbox, there’s an exhilarating surge of pace available all across the rev range.
All-wheel drive and a rear-axle locking differential help keep things relatively civilised with well-managed traction, but this muscular Benz has a drift mode to bring out its playful side. This deactivates the stability control and turns the E63 S into a purely rear-wheel-drive car.
At the press of a button, drivers can choose five different levels of driving demeanour — Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race — as well as an Individual mode where the responses of the engine, transmission, steering, suspension, and exhaust sound can be personalised.
It’s a car that radically changes character from its mildest to wildest settings, and in Race mode it adopts a decidedly angrier and more vigorous vibe. AMG’s V8 is one of the more rowdy-sounding turbo engines in the business, and in the sportiest setting it howls a war cry that can scare hadedas off lamp posts from two blocks away.
The ride firms up noticeably with the adaptive air suspension set to the Sports and Race modes. It’s a car that seems to shrink around you, displaying impressive agility for its considerable size and weight. It feels lithe and alert in fast-paced driving, without wallowing through corners or pitching and squatting under heavy braking or acceleration.
The car’s shrink-wrap effect extends to the styling. There’s something about the curvy edges and proportions that really don’t look like a 4.9m long car; it looks more like a C-Class until you sit inside that spacious cabin.
High-performance ceramic composite brakes fitted to the test car took a lot of punishment without fading, but they’re a hefty R145,600 extra-cost option.
Keeping the driver intimately spliced into the experience is speed-sensitive steering that incrementally tightens up for more feedback. The AMG sports seats are both supportive and comfortable, in keeping with the car’s dual-role nature.
Mercedes has retuned the suspension for improved ride comfort, and in its softest mode the sports sedan isn’t overly firm and cruises with decent waftability. It’s a car that’s suited for a daily ride — as long as the low-profile tyres are carefully guided around potholes.
The E63 S displays typical Benz finesse and refinement, though there’s significant road noise from those wide, high-performance tyres.
A cylinder-deactivation function helps with fuel economy, and the test car averaged a reasonably sane 14.2l per 100km in a mix of laid-back and fast-attack driving.
As part of the 2021 update, the interior has been upgraded with a new Widescreen Cockpit, which has a vast digital instrument panel and infotainment display stretching across the dash.
The MBUX infotainment system has AMG-specific functions and displays. Via the AMG menu, the driver can call up various special displays such as engine data, G-force meter, and Racetimer, and switch between three AMG display styles: Modern Classic, Sport, and Supersport.
Luxurious, edgy, and devastatingly fast, the updated Mercedes-AMG E63 S is an enthralling sports sedan for execs with a playful streak.
- Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Mat ic+, 450kW/850Nm — R2,436,440
- BMW M5 Compet i t ion, 460kW/750Nm — R2,328,224
- Audi RS6 Avant , 441kW/800Nm — R2,007,000
- Audi RS7 Sportback, 441kW/800Nm — R2,173,500
• From the May edition of Wanted, 2021.