As I rush by the apex cone for Turn 9 on my "warm up" lap, I decide to open up the taps, unleashing the full fury of the twin-turbocharged V8 positioned a few feet in front of me. Without the slightest hint of turbo lag, I'm shoved into my seat as the car surges forward with a level of urgency that's simply awe inspiring.
Firing off near-seamless shifts as I barrel toward Big Willow's start/finish line, the exhaust system barks a song of muscular fury that seems like it would be as at home on Woodward Boulevard as it would on the Autobahn. Just before I get on the brakes to set up for Turn 1, I glance at the speedometer. It briefly flashes 145 mph before the numbers drop precipitously, which means this car has just hit a higher velocity on the main straight than the last Viper I drove here.
Yet, this is no sports car—this is a luxury vehicle. An astonishingly, absurdly capable one with a Burmester surround sound audio system and a cabin fragrance system. In the performance sedan arms race, this is Mercedes-AMG's alcantara-wrapped Tsar Bomba.
The W213 Goes To 11
The spec sheet of the E63 S makes it clear that AMG isn't phoning in this one. Affalterbach's 4.0-liter power plant has been boosted to 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque by way of a new intake, pistons, intercoolers, twin-scroll turbochargers and requisite software tweaks.
Paired up with AMG's nine-speed multi-clutch gearbox, which sends the grunt to all four wheels through the company's new 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system, this 4,500-pound sedan will catapult to 60 mph in a supercar-like 3.3 seconds on its way to an electronically-limited 186 miles per hour. That's not just quick for a sedan—that's quick for a road car of any ilk.
And because AMG knows that its buyers have fantasies of laying down Ken Block-style rooster tails during their morning commute, the 4Matic+ system also has a feature which allows the system to send 100 percent of the output to the rear wheels under certain conditions, like when the new Drift Mode setting is selected. Potential hooliganism aside, the E63 S has no shortage of go-fast hardware as standard, including an electronically controlled limited slip differential, big brakes with six-piston calipers and 15.4-inch discs up front, dynamic engine mounts, and an AMG-tuned air suspension system.
The luxury side of the equation isn't neglected either, though, as the E63 S sports a pair of massive 12.3-inch displays for instrument cluster and center console display, along with heated and ventilated seats, LED lighting at the front and rear, and a host of active safety features all as standard equipment. Although the E63 S's ability to coddle its passengers might hold some level allure, it's what this understated monster is capable of in motion that makes it truly compelling.
On The Track
While the E63 S will never be confused for a sports car simply by virtue of its dimensions, center of gravity and overall girth, its capability when set upon a road course will make an impression on even the most jaded wheelmen. Along with the unrelenting pull of the boosted mill under the hood and the sharp response of the gearbox, the E63 S feels incredibly surefooted for its size, dispatching Big Willow's array of high-speed mid-corner bumps with a complete absence of drama.
Through a combination of all-wheel drive grip, chassis tuning, and the subtle hand of well-sorted electronic aids, the E63 S just sticks as the weight is thrown around from side to side and end to end through the gauntlet that comprises turns 3, 4 and 5, and feels planted enough to get on the power before cresting the hill at Turn 6, a spot where many high-horsepower machines can become unsettled as the suspension unloads.
The car is so quick to pile on speed through what is essentially Big Willow's back straight (Turn 7 requires just a hint of steering input) that I'm hard on the brakes again before easing into the fast sweeper of Turn 8 for the first time, though it hardly seems necessary in retrospect.
If there's any fault to be found in the E63 S's track manners it's perhaps the car's high-speed stability under braking. Though there's a collection of subtle aero bits on hand, the E63 S doesn't really have the level of downforce you'd normally find on performance vehicles that are capable of this kind of velocity in such short order, which translated into brief flirtations with rear-end uncertainty while scrubbing off speed from triple digit territory. But truth be told, it never proved to be much of a cause for concern, and while it was never designed to be a purpose-built track weapon, the E63 S definitely holds its own out on a road course.
On The Street
Unleashed on public roads, the E63 S delivers grand touring of the highest order. Toggle the drive mode switch over to Comfort and the entire car relaxes, both sonically and mechanically, revealing the other side of this AMG's personality.
Here's where it's wise to choose your options carefully. The optional reinforced AMG sport seats that held me in place with aplomb on the track seem a little less ideal out here. These are about as close to legitimate race bucket as you'll find in a production car—replete with racing harness cutouts despite the lack of a harness bar—and the aggressive bolstering coupled with the minimal padding isn't particularly well suited to long stints behind the wheel.
The carbon ceramic discs are a similar story. On our tester they were included as part of the $18,760 RBP Edition Components Package, which includes unique 20-inch forged wheels, AMG side stripes, yellow accent stitching, AMG performance exhaust and a panoramic sunroof among other bits and pieces. And like the seats, they work great on track but prove to be less than ideal out on the street where—in typical carbon ceramic disc fashion—they were particularly noisy. In the end it's just a question of how much time the car will actually spend at the racetrack, and whether these compromises in comfort are worth the tradeoff to you.
Optional equipment aside, the E63 S will effortlessly soak up the miles when asked to do so, pampering its occupants with superb isolation from road noise and the harsh realities of the outside world. Yet it's also ready to go back on boil again at a moment's notice—a simple flick of a switch and we're back to the supercar-eating side of the E63 S's split personality.
It's that ability to provide a dual identity that made sports sedans such a compelling proposition in the first place, and Affalterbach hits the mark with an AMG-badged bazooka with the new E63 S. Hail to the king, baby.