The Mercedes-AMG S63 S wagon is not your run-of-the-mill station wagon, it certainly looks like it from the outside, but what it is hidden under the rather subdued sheet metal is what makes this wagon truly extraordinary.
It is strange that, before the insurgence of the SUV, the station wagon was the staple family mover. They afforded the family with the extra space, smooth ride and all-around utility. Move forward to today and things couldn’t be so different. The station wagon, in its old form, is all but dead.
There are still some surviving wagons but are now a totally different beasts from bygone days. Gone is the mundane and predictable styling with lacklustre performance, they have now been replaced with high-performance engines and sportscar-like handling without giving up any of the extra space associated with a wagon.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is certainly atop of the new breed of sport wagons. I said that the E63 S wagons exterior design was subdued, when in reality the styling is a bit more aggressive than you are led to believe at first glance.
The new large vertical strutted grille with slimmer headlights gives it an angry face that is enhanced by the creased and raised hood. New larger air intakes mounted below, and each side of the grill add to its road presence. Not much has happened design wise at the rear for a couple of generations, and apart from the AMG badging and quad exhaust tips you wouldn’t really know what a monster you are following.
Where the E63 S wagon stands out from the crowd is what is hidden under the hood. A hand built, biturbo, 4.0-litre V8 that has been shoehorned into place and is attached to a nine-speed automatic transmission that distributes the power to all four wheels by means of their 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system. The power produced is a phenomenal 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. This will propel this people carrier to 100 km in 3.5 seconds – that is in supercar territory - and is actually faster than its sportscar sibling the AMG GT R.
To handle all the power being produced the AMG Dynamic select drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+, RACE and Slippery) configure the drivetrain to best handle driving conditions and surfaces. In addition, an individual mode can be set up specifically to the drivers needs that allows the driver to set up the engine, throttle response, gear changes and suspension individually allowing for a more controlled driving experience. All which can be controlled by the two steering wheel mounted buttons.
An adaptive air suspension package manages to keep all four wheels planted firmly on the road while making the drive as smooth as possible for all passengers, The addition Dynamic Cornering Assist that can detect understeer when cornering and will apply the inside rear brake that shift the torque load to the outside wheel bringing the vehicle into line.
The driver-centric cabin is sporty while being spacious and well set up. The dual floating screens are crisp and bright while most of the controls can be managed directly from the steering wheel. The rear seat can sit three grown adults comfortably while still managing to carry a week’s worth of luggage behind them.
It’s not until you press the start button on this car do you realize what it is all about. The engine roars into life, touch the accelerator and it shouts at you letting you and everyone around you know it means business. Driving such a powerful car isn’t as daunting as you would think, all the power is kept well under control which is especially good when driving in the city, heck the engine will also shut down four cylinders for you to save some gas – but that’s not why people buy cars like this.
Get onto the highway and things change, acceleration is blistering, and the sound coming out of the exhaust ensures everyone around hears you are there. Gear changes are smooth and precise both when using automatic mode or using the paddle shifters, obviously, the harder the acceleration the more severe the changes become but this is what driving a car like this is all about. The closer you drive to the red line the louder the screaming banshees emanating from exhaust sound.
The handling is superb taking corners at speed is handled without fuss and the car stays flat throughout the corner and never felt like it was about to break away from me. The ride is a little hard, but that is exactly the way it should be in a car with this power and performance. Steering is precise and sharp ensuring that you feel the road no matter the circumstances. Braking is as controlled as acceleration but can be as harsh as needed but still remains balanced and manageable.
On winding back roads the E63 wagon comes into its own, it sticks to the surface if it was on rails, no matter how hard it is pushed. There isn’t any noticeable body roll to make the journey uncomfortable for passengers even when pushing it hard. It eats up tight bends and seems to take pleasure from being pushed harder than you really should.
It’s hard to believe that a car that is a tad under 5-metres long holds the road so well. At no point did the back feel like it was about to break free and it always remained under control.
The beauty of this E63 S wagon it is sporty and sportscar-like as you want it to be as well as being calm and controlled for city driving.
The station wagon has certainly changed in the last decade or so and after driving this E63 S Wagon I am so glad they have. There certainly is nothing predictable or lacklustre about it.
Station wagons will never be the same again!