Fastest Mercedes E-class is born to run


Listen to the throb of the new Mercedes-AMG E63 S twin turbo V8


The E Street band that backed up Bruce Springsteen on his career-defining song, Born to Run, was probably named after some New Jersey avenue pointing east, but it could have also been code for Easy Street.

For that would have made a better fit with the lyrical theme of the work as it examined life on the margins of American society.

New E 63S doesn't shout about its performance. At least until you start it up.

New E 63S doesn't shout about its performance. At least until you start it up.

The streets were no longer easy back in 1975, the war in Viet Nam had swept the moral high ground away, and a crooked president had just resigned so that he could avoid impeachment (sound familiar?).

There was just the car and the road left as foundations for Springsteen's imaginary characters as they hoped to escape a tainted dream by putting pedal-to-metal toward an uninsured future.

READ MORE: Superb new AMG E 63 drifts on to the performance sedan scene

That song was pure Jack Kerouac poetry presented in front of a powerful wall-of-sound, and the way that it highlighted the seizing of a moment, albeit an uncertain one, made it one of the great rock n' roll anthems.

Inside, super-fast E 63S gets the same comfort and convenience features as any E-class.

Inside, super-fast E 63S gets the same comfort and convenience features as any E-class.

The new Mercedes-AMG E 63 S is also capable of seizing moments, and commanding your full attention as a driver.

The difference between a journey in this car and that of Springsteen's relatable V8-driven misfits is that these moments are no longer uncertain. For your immediate future is totally insured by the biggest and maddest E's wealth of chassis technology, all of which targets the securing of the car to the road.

There's the adaptive all-wheel-drive that sends some of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8's prodigious driving force forwards when the default rear wheels threaten to spin.

This is backed up by a clever rear differential that optimizes the traction of the fat rear tyres by allocating the most torque to whichever is the most appropriate.

Ad Feedback

Adaptive dampers have settings that'll keep the rubber closely embracing the road surface, and active engine mounts rotate motor mass to better balance the car during moments of high lateral g-force, a practice akin to sailors hanging their weight off the outside of a racing yacht to prevent the sail from tipping it over.

So where some members of the E Street band could always find trouble after one of their shows, this car will totally snuff any nonsense out in an instant.

That's provided any one of the first four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ - is selected. In these, the E 63 S makes every road Easy Street.

You can indulge in totally irrational driving behaviour, like attempting to provoke the engine into sending the car into a rear-rubber-incinerating skid while powering out of a tight corner, and the only reaction will be a brief sideways yaw movement that is quickly reined in by the electronic brains trust of the car within milliseconds.

If that sounds a bit boring, believe me that it isn't. Safety-enhancing competence is absolutely impressive when it comes coupled to the paranormal performance that the E 63 S is capable of. For this car will instantly remind you that it is the world's fastest four-door saloon any time you desire to experience the proof.

Helping the ability of the E 63 S to impart driving pleasure is the AMG retune of the car's self-guiding steering system.

Like the Benz-badged E's, this sports variant is capable of maintaining itself in the centre of a motorway lane without human guidance, and will complete a safe lane change all by itself when the driver has first activated the radar-enhanced cruise control and then operates the indicator stalk.

But there's a big difference between the cooking E-class models and this in the stronger nervous connection that the driver feels to the front tyres. That's because AMG's "sports parameter" steering has quicker rack gearing and delays adding electrical assistance until it's needed.

This means that when the wheel is pointing the front tyres straight ahead that there is usually no assistance at all, eliminating the deadness that most electric power steering systems display during straight-line driving.

Put the car in one of the sporty modes, and that assistance is further toned down if not entirely withheld, increasing the communication of tactile information from the tyres.

So the E 63 S is now a sports-saloon benchmark in more ways than just its leader-of-the-pack powertrain. It already shoots down Audi's RS6/RS7 in terms of driver engagement and it sets a handling standard that the coming new BMW M5 (also four-wheel-drive) must surpass.

But will that ballistic new Beemer look and feel as good as this?

I found the E 63S pushed all my emotional buttons visually, both when viewed from inside and out. There's a classiness that's often lacking in sports-saloons, and unlike many, the big-power AMG never appears to cross the boundaries of taste, well, never my rather questionable tastes anyway.

And if you want go mental, and seize an uncertain moment in the vein of a Springsteen lyric, there's always the Race (aka "drift") rear-drive-only mode fitted to the S version. Not that I selected this on the launch drive as there were witnesses for the prosecution present in the car if it all went a little too uncertain.

The standard equipment add-ons for the S – Race mode, sports exhaust, elec-trick rear diff, tilting engine mounts, 20in forged alloy wheels, and an extra 30kW and 100Nm of engine performance, add a neat 30 grand to the $199,900 price of the non-S E 63.

But then, that $229,900 total does buy you what is arguably now the best four-door car in the world.

At a Glance

Model: Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

Price: $229,900.

Powertrain: 4.0 twin-turbo-petrol V8, 450kW/850Nm, nine-speed twin-clutch gearbox, adaptive all-wheel-drive.

Performance: 0-100: 3.4 seconds; 9.3 litres/100km; 212gm/km CO2; Euro 6 emissions.

Vital Statistics: Length: 4993mm; Width: 1907mm; Height: 1460mm; Wheelbase: 2939mm; Weight: 1880kg.

We like: More driver engagement than other self-steering cars; V8 can become a V4 when it suits, reducing fuel use.

We don't like: driving mode button should be steering wheel-mounted like Lewis's; driver's headrest angle too upright.

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback