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Instant Gratification: The Mercedes AMG E63 S Wagon

A family wagon, with Drift Mode? Meet the high-performing E63s.

There is something extraordinarily gratifying about being completely underestimated.

There are many things to love about the AMG E63 S Wagon, but this is probably the thing I love the most. You see as Europeans, and I still consider myself as such even post-Brexit, we have always prided ourselves on being a little bit reserved and understated. This is perhaps why the Europeans have had such a love affair with high-performance wagons. They are practical for the family trip to the mountains, with four-wheel traction and plenty of space for ski paraphernalia, or a jaunt to the riviera with all the beach gear. They can easily make the school and grocery store runs and then transition seamlessly to become an effortless executive express pounding the autobahn at over 150mph. The AMG E63s is the pure personification of this, it is the ultimate sleeper with legitimate supercar performance.

A neighbor of mine owns a bright red E63s wagon, he also owns an immaculate Porsche 911 Turbo of the 997 vintage. People often remark on the 911 and ask about the performance, to which he delightfully responds, "Yes but you should really see the family wagon at home." This is the essence of this wonderful car.

So, it is here I find myself sitting in the E63 at a set of traffic lights at an undisclosed location not too far from my house, a couple of Larrikins in an older but modified M3 sitting in the lane next to me. I am guessing that the constant blipping of the throttle amplified through the after-market exhaust is a fair indicator of their intentions. So, with a nonchalant flick of the thumb I turn the dial on the E63 steering wheel to the Sport Plus setting, listen to the exhaust note drop a few notes, and look across at the chaps in the next lane. My nod and smile are returned with a look of mockery, derision, and utter contempt as they survey my family wagon. In the blink of an eye red turns green. I hit the gas and the V8 snarls into life. I watch the hp and torque meter rapidly go from left to right into the redline as 603hp and 627-pound torque are transferred to all four wheels and our brief interaction is immediate history.

Bingo, instant gratification. Yes, slightly childish I know, but man I could do this all day long.

The AMG E63 wagon was first introduced to the US in 2005 and ever since Mercedes-Benz has built a loyal and enthusiastic following, typically of those that prize supercar capabilities with the practicalities of a daily hauler. This latest iteration for the 2021 model year includes a handful of exterior changes including the sleeker LED headlights and tail-lights, restyled air intakes with a significantly larger air-cooling inlet, and the distinctive AMG Panamericana grill with its and redesigned diffuser.

Overall the changes are subtle, but the end result produces a slightly sharper, dynamic and aggressive look. I particularly love the new front end treatment and the lines on the hood that give a nod to the powerful hand-built AMG V8 that lies beneath and the AMG tailpipes with the ridged edges. My demo car came in a deep lunar blue metallic, with AMG twin 5-spoke wheels with black accents and the carbon ceramic brakes with beautiful copper-colored calipers.

New touch-sensitive steering wheel and widescreen display
Sleek touchpad-style controls offer a high-tech feel

On the interior, there are more changes with the new widescreen cockpit replete with its dual 12.3 inch screens and the new AMG performance steering wheel and MBUX infotainment system with the AMG performance displays and functions that include a lap-timer and g-force meter as you would of course fully expect from a track capable wagon. Visibility is excellent and the dash feels quite low with everything close at hand, and the fit and finish of the interior is superb.

I found the new touch sensitive steering wheel controls took a bit of getting used to, particularly the haptic touch and level of pressure required. But the size positioning and styling of the AMG wheel feels tactile and grippy, and it looks fabulous. Visibility of the instruments is great and the excellent drive mode performance selectors that are easily adjusted with a flick of the thumb and have their own tiny screens are excellent. They have really delivered on this and I really like the aggressive front end, the high headlights, the ridges on the hood, and the contoured styling around the front fender that accentuates a powerful look. 

The dual screens are phenomenal and the MBUX system and touchpad work incredibly well. Mercedes has also clearly spent considerable time developing and enhancing the voice activated control system. Though I must say, I am still a bit old-school when it comes to this and prefer fiddling around with dials and knobs. I guess this will become truly generational.

The E Class cabin is a great place to be with clean lines, comfortable seats, and plenty of space for five adults. There is 35 cubic feet of luggage and trappings that extends to 64 cubic feet with the seats down. This also produces an almost flat load floor should you need extra haulage space to cart the sofa, barbecue, or refrigerator. The cabin comes replete with the AMG signature touches that include the Affalterbach logo embossed into the leather headrests and the AMG steering wheel and machined aluminum pedals.  

The powertrain of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon retains the glorious hand-built twin-turbo V8 with 603hp and 627 lb-ft of torque on tap. This particular specimen lovingly assembled by one Timo Nordheim, the AMG Engineer whose signature graces the small plaque under the hood. Power delivery is consistent and smooth all the way to the redline and the nine speed automatic is seamless with rapid transitions. The AMG all-wheel drive system is superb and the technical wizardry of the limited-slip diff and traction control systems are incredibly effective in ensuring the E63s shifts power between left and right, front and back, to maintain traction to all four twenty-inch wheels and tires, providing for massive grip. For those of us who are more adventurous, the power can also be fully shifted to the rear wheels and there is even a Drift Mode. A family wagon, with a drift mode. What could be better than that? Who knew the Germans had this level of sense of humor. 

The ride quality of the earlier E63s were known to be a bit hard, this being the assumed trade-off for handling and performance. Mercedes has clearly taken this to heart and with this latest incarnation, the three-chamber air suspension system has been recalibrated. This involved retuning the AMG Ride Control+ system and the Adaptive Damping+ system, which has provided for much greater range in the suspension and significantly increased the ride-comfort. The result is superb, and the E63s is comfortable and sedate around the doors and can transform to a full-on track machine and hurled into corners with the utmost confidence.

My car came with the optional high-performance carbon ceramic brakes, which comprise of two-piece rotors made of a carbon and ceramic compound. This is similar to the material used in AMG Formula 1 cars, and they are 40% lighter and require less pedal pressure. The bronze-colored 6-piston calipers also look fabulous, particularly with the midnight blue paintwork.  

Those in the market for a fast wagon are also likely to consider the RS6 Avant or the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. The Taycan is also now bring produced in a wagon format. The RS6 Avant is probably the closer competitor, with similar size, performance, and price point. Though AMG has an incredibly loyal brand following and unless you are new to the category, previous owners are likely to remain faithful to the AMG marque. And, perhaps most importantly the E63 is the only one that offers a Drift-Mode, which could be the deal clincher right there.

The base price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon is $112,450. My test car came in the optional Lunar Blue Metallic ($720) with AMG Twin 5-Spoke Wheels with black accents ($200). The interior was fitted with nut brown and black Nappa leather and natural grain black ash wood with black Dinamica headliner ($1,600). Other optional equipment included the AMG Carbon Ceramic Braking System ($8,950), the Driver Assistance Package ($1,950), Acoustic Comfort Package ($1,100), and Exterior Lighting Package ($900). With destination and delivery, this brought the overall price to a total of $129,120. 

For more information visit: Mercedes AMG E63 S

Photos courtesy of James Henderson.