MERCEDES-BENZ has launched the new E63 AMG performance sedan into its Australian showrooms this week, priced $4056 less than the model it replaces and boasting more power, improved efficiency and an increased level of standard equipment.
Sitting at the top of the E-Class range and the fifth generation of AMG-enhanced E-Class, the W212 E63 AMG combines the fresh new bodywork of the new E-Class sedan with the sophisticated powertrain and drivetrain of the SL 63 AMG.
The suspension has also been heavily revised, and the E63 puts out more power and more torque than that other German super-sedan, the BMW M5.
The result is a performance sedan that sprints like a supercar, yet still provides enough room for five people to travel in luxury. Mercedes-Benz describes it as the ultimate "day-to-day dynamic sports saloon".
Like its predecessor, the 2010 E63 AMG takes the basic sedan bodyshell and adds a heap of muscle and testosterone.
Aside from the 17mm wider front quarter panels, sheetmetal is shared with garden-variety E-Class sedans. However, aggressive bumpers, sideskirts and a bootlip spoiler transform the E-Class from mild to menacing.
The LED running lamps have been straightened out, and the front bumper's cooling apertures are now larger. Like the old E63, shark-like 'gills' evacuate air from behind each cheek vent and "6.3 AMG" badges sit within their own recesses just behind the front wheels.
The headlamp clusters feature tinted lenses, however the grille is the same as that used by the E500 sedan.
The side skirts are deeper and feature different contouring to the more prosaic E-Class models, and a set of attractive 19-inch AMG alloys fill out each wheelwell.
The rear bumper is lower than the E500 and houses four rhomboid chrome exhaust tips, while a black insert fills the gap between them.
The chrome rubbing strips that wrap around the regular E-Class's flanks and rump are deleted, and the E63 presents a cleaner, smoother look.
It's still businesslike, but there's no mistaking the E63's more athletic intent. Want yours to look even more purposeful? An optional carbon fibre trim package is available, as are red-painted brake calipers.
While the E63's cabin shares its basic layout with other E-Class sedans, there's one major difference: instead of the column-mounted shift lever used by the E500 sedan, the E63 features a floor-mounted shifter similar in function to that used by the SLS AMG.
Short and stubby, the E63's gearlever is surrounded by controls for the adjustable dampers, stability control and seven-speed transmission. Because of the addition of a centre console-mounted shifter, the cupholders and COMAND controller have been relocated further rearward.
The rest of the cabin is familiar E-Class fare, except with a few E63-specific flourishes. Mercedes-Benz Australia offers the E63 at a higher standard specification level, and one of the extra goodies applied to the E-Class flagship is the luxurious Exclusive Package interior.
The Exclusive Package brings an Alcantara headliner, AMG floormats and Nappa leather trim on the upper dashboard, door cards and centre console, and the E63 also enjoys stainless steel pedals, AMG sill plates and an AMG instrument cluster as standard.
The front seats are all-electric and offer more lateral support than the standard E-Class pews. Trimmed in Nappa leather, the seat upholstery is available in three different colours. Those wanting a sportier look for their cabin can also opt for an interior carbonfibre trim package.
Equipment and Features
As befits a Mercedes flagship, the E63 is packed with technology.
Aside from the COMAND APS navigation and entertainment system, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, auto-on headlamps, reversing camera and parking sensors, the E63 also ships with heated and ventilated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, retractable sunblinds for the rear occupants, Lane Keep Assist and Blind Spot Assist.
A premium surround-sound system features a CD stacker and iPod connectivity, and a built-in TV tuner receives analogue and digital broadcasts and displays them on the dash-mounted LCD display. Compared to the outgoing E63, the new model packs an extra $28,100 worth of equipment for $4056 less.
Optional equipment includes radar-guided cruise control, a pedestrian-detecting night vision system, a rear seat DVD player and tyre pressure sensors.
Passive safety hardware comprises a comprehensive suite of 11 airbags (front airbags, side airbags for front and rear occupants, hip airbags for the front seats, curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag), along with pretensioning three-point seatbelts.
Active safety is handled by multi-stage stability control, traction control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. Mercedes-Benz's Pre-Safe crash mitigation system is standard on the E63, as is its Attention Assist fatigue-detection system.
Opting for the Distronic radar-guided cruise control also brings Benz's collision-detecting Pre-Safe Brake and Brake Assist Plus packages, which use the cruise control's radar hardware to determine when the car is approach an object too quickly and a crash is imminent. If the driver doesn't heed the warnings issued by the system, Pre-Safe Brake can slow the car autonomously - not enough to stop the crash, but with enough force to reduce the severity of it.
AMG's venerable 6.2 litre naturally-aspirated V8 has been tuned to deliver 386kW and 630Nm - the same amount of torque, but 8kW more than the outgoing W211 E63's engine. It's essentially the same motor used by the SL63 AMG roadster, and it provides more than enough grunt to get the big E-Class moving smartly.
The race-derived quad-cam V8 utlises a super-strong aluminium bed plate block design and is also the first AMG engine to utilise an economy-improving alternator management system - which reduces drag on the engine by only engaging the alternator during over-run and braking.
Backing up the big V8 is the SL63's 7-speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic gearbox, which differs from conventional autos in that it uses a wet clutch to control power delivery instead of a power-sapping torque converter.
The result is a more direct transfer of power from the engine's crankshaft to the gearbox, and a sharper, more responsive transmission. The wet clutch also allows the gearbox to be more versatile; capable of delivering smooth, slurred shifts as well as brutally direct gearchanges.
Controlling the Speedshift MCT's behaviour is a small rotary knob located to the right of the gear selector. Through it, the driver can dial up the economy-oriented Comfort mode, a slightly shaper Sport mode, an even sportier Sport Plus mode and a fully manual shift mode. Manual mode holds each gear until the driver taps one of the steering wheel-mounted paddles or nudges the tiptronic shifter, and perfect rev-matched downchanges are executed when in Sport or Manual mode.
In Sport Plus and Manual mode, the Speedshift MCT can swap ratios in just 100 milliseconds.
Launch control is a standard feature of the E63, and enables it to launch from zero to 100km/h in a catlike 4.5 seconds. Not quite as fast as the BMW M5's 4.4 seconds, but then again the E63 has 1840kg to lug around - significantly more than the M5's 1755kg kerb weight.
The E63 AMG features an entirely unique front suspension, with a 56mm wider track width, new control arms, unique hub knuckles, tubular stabiliser bar, stronger wheel bearings and stiffer dampers, springs and bushings. The E63's front suspension still utilises MacPherson struts, but nearly every other aspect has been changed.
The multi-link rear suspension has also come in for some reinforcement and geometry revisions, while airbags are employed rather than conventional steel coils. Damper firmness is adjustable from within the cabin, allowing the driver to tailor the E63's ride to their liking.
The steering rack ratio has been quickened to 14:1 (thus making it 22 percent more direct than the standard rack), and speed-sensitive power steering adds more weight to the wheel at speed.
The standard brake package consists of sizable 360mm ventilated and cross-drilled steel rotors, the front pair gripped by six-piston calipers and the rear by four-piston calipers.
An optional carbon-composite brake package will be offered in the future, although an availability date for the Australian market has yet to be finalised. The package replaces the steel rotors with carbon ceramic discs measuring an enormous 402mm at the front, while the rear carbon discs remain 360mm in diameter but are 6mm thicker.
Mounted on aluminium hats, each carbon ceramic rotor is around 40 percent lighter than the standard steel items, and help improve handling, acceleration, ride comfort and, of course, braking performance.
The all-new 2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan is a significant improvement over the outgoing model, however its price point is lower and it offers a much higher level of standard equipment.
Priced from $234,900 before on-road costs, the new E63 AMG is not only $4056 cheaper than the just-superseded E63, but it's nearly $7000 cheaper than the BMW M5. The 2010 E63 AMG is available now from Mercedes-Benz dealers nationwide.