Mercedes has plenty of experience when it comes to wildly overpowered family cars, but the latest AMG takes that to new levels. The E63 S AMG 4MATIC might look like a practical, comfortable family saloon from the outside, but it's packing a 450 kW (612 hp) V8 under the hood. In other words, this four-door is faster than the purpose built AMG GT-R launched earlier this year.
That's right, nestled under the swollen bonnet of the E63 S 4MATIC is a twin-turbo V8 punching out 612 horses at 5,750 rpm, and a massive 850 Nm (627 lb.ft) of torque between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm. Even the entry level E63 makes 420 kW (571 hp) and 750 Nm (553 lb.ft), although choosing an entry-level super sedan seems counter intuitive to say the least.
All that power is put to the road through an all-new four-wheel drive system. Unlike the outgoing model, which offered 4MATIC as an option, it's standard on the new car. Thanks to an electro-mechanical coupling between the two axles, it's able to send all of its power to any wheel when it detects slip, making it more sophisticated (and potentially more fun) than the system Audi uses on its RS6 Quattro. In the E63 S, drivers are even able to slot the car into Drift Mode, which sends all the power to the rear wheels for smoky slides.
Clever four-wheel drive also helps the E63 S shoot to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.4 seconds, quicker than an AMG GT-R or McLaren 540C handles the same sprint. In regular trim, the E63 is still significantly quicker than the BMW M5 and Lexus GS F, completing the sprint in 3.5 seconds.
Of course, the modern super saloon needs to be efficient too. To make sure it doesn't fall foul of tightening emissions regulations, the twin-turbo V8 is able to shut down four cylinders under light loads, before firing them back up when the driver asks for a bit more punch. The system seems to work, because 8.9 l/100 km (26 mpg) is miserly considering how much power is on hand.
With such crazy levels of power on hand, AMG has put plenty of time into making sure the handling is up to scratch. A four-link setup on the front end uses aluminum to lower unsprung weight, and a wider track should help cut down on understeer when the driver is really going for it. The rear axle has been completely reworked for a wider track, and the tubular anti-rollbar from the AMG GT-R has been fitted to cut down on weight.
These mechanical changes work with three-chamber springs, which can be relaxed for long-distance touring or made rock-hard for racetrack work. The six-piston brakes have also been designed with circuit work in mind, with the front discs measuring up at 360 mm (14 in) in the E63 and 390 mm (15.4 in) on the E63 S. Carbon ceramics are optional on the range-topper.
Although it's packing supercar levels of power under the hood, Mercedes has been remarkably restrained with the styling. The front end is pumped up with big air intakes and scoops, and there's a more aggressive diffuser down back, but only eagle-eyed spotters will be able to pick an E63 AMG out in traffic. Until it catapults off into the distance, that is.
It's a similar story inside, where wooden trim has been replaced with carbon fiber. Drivers are also able to keep track of their lap times using the COMAND infotainment system, before sharing them with a connected smartphone over Bluetooth. Think of the cabin as a velvet boxing glove, comfortable and luxurious enough for long-haul cruising but still up to the task on the track.
As yet there's no information about pricing for the E63 AMG 4MATIC, but it will be in showrooms from the start of March 2017.