Jeff Voth

Preview: Mercedes-Benz E 63 in Barcelona

2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S 4MATIC

Preview: Mercedes-Benz E 63 in Barcelona

Car Review

Overall rating:

9/10

Editor's Ratings:

  • Price: 6/10

  • Performance: 10/10

  • Comfort (front): 9/10

  • Consumption: 5/10

  • Look: 9/10

2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S 4MATIC

Barcelona, Spain: Do you ever find yourself humming a random verse from a song just because it seems to fit the moment? Maybe it’s just me. On this day the line, “If you go out in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise,” is shuffling through my mind on continuous repeat. It all started the moment we went into the “secret” parking garage and took delivery of a brilliant white 2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S 4MATIC.

MORE: Mercedes-Benz trims and other specs

At the press briefing, we were told about a European option package referred to as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” It is a delete package for business people who don’t want the outside world to know what model it is they are driving. This option is not available in North America. Why? Keeping up appearances in Canada and the U.S. means something completely different than it does in corporate Germany. I guess some European drivers still understand the meaning of humility, or at least the appearance of it.

Driving a Canadian-spec 2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S 4MATIC, I have no reservations about being loud and proud. What’s the fun of driving a wolf such as this if you can’t tell anyone? Find me a long tunnel, second gear and open the windows. There isn’t a sweeter sound on the planet than a full throttle AMG V8 and everyone should know it!

Power is seriously upgraded for the S-Model we are driving today. According to Dr. Gerald Thater, Powertrain Development Mercedes-AMG, this is the fastest E-Class ever. Listening to him expound on all that is AMG at a dinner the night before, I have every reason to trust his statement.

Performance numbers for the bi-turbo 5.5-litre V8 are astounding. It delivers 585 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 590 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,750 and 5,000 rpm. If that doesn’t scatter the sheep, 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds is certain to separate the flock.

Matched to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT seven-speed sports transmission, power delivery is smooth and unflustered. I am amazed at regular points during my test drive how the car seems to anticipate my thoughts, shifting up and down at just the right moment. It’s uncanny!

A total of four modes set the stage for personal driving pleasure; “C” (Controlled Efficiency), “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport plus) and “M” (Manual). All are adjusted via a small round knob located next to the gear lever. Choosing any of the three sporty modes adjusts engine and transmission performance, while deactivating the ECO start/stop function.

The availability of power is one thing; knowing how to control it is something else entirely. To aid in this area, Mercedes-Benz includes 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard equipment in Canada. Engine torque is split 33%-67% between the front and rear axles. Another AMG highlight equips this E-Class “wolf” with sports suspension and an electronically controlled damping system. The front suspension is steel-spring while the rear features a load-bearing air suspension setup.

In real world driving, I experience what feels like total control even at the limit while braking hard into a corner. Driving on tight mountain two-lanes high above Barcelona, Spain, there are many opportunities to challenge grip in the E 63 AMG S 4MATIC. It is near flawless in execution.

Giant brakes help, of course, and there is no end of mechanical wizardry here as well. Red calipers distinguish the S-Model, with front and rear ventilated and perforated disc brakes. If you think the car is fast from zero to infinity, it is equally so from infinity to zero.

All manner of driver assistance innovations are standard on the E 63 AMG S 4MATIC, almost to the point of overkill. But such is the make-up of today’s exotic automobiles, so why not take advantage of it. Upgrades include Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Parking Assist and BAS PLUS with Junction Assist to detect cross traffic and pedestrians, plus much more.

One of the more intriguing features is termed Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus. In short, Mercedes-Benz has designed a system whereby you can leave your highbeam headlights on and not worry about approaching traffic. Masking out other vehicles in the beams “cone of light”, the system works on multiple vehicles equally as well as it does on one. It means added safety for oncoming traffic and no more flashing headlights reminding you to turn down your brights.

Inside, the driver and all occupants are treated like royalty. Elegant Nappa leather graces the sport seats, door panels, armrests and the center console. A thick steering wheel is covered in Alcantara for easy grip and the flat-bottom design is both pleasing on the eyes and fully functional. Of note, the round gauge cluster highlights an “S AMG” speedometer indicating a top speed of 320 km/h.

Should you require music other than the raucous V8, options include the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end surround sound system. A newly styled analogue clock rests in the center of the dash surrounded by carbon fiber accents.

The woods and hills near Barcelona took the brunt of our outdoor excursion on this day. Heads turned and several of the locals stopped to gaze and listen as we passed. Starting this September, a wolf will be on the hunt in Canada and its snarl is certain to be irresistible.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S 4MATIC

Model: 4-door sedan and sport wagon

Price as tested (before taxes): N/A

Freight: N/A

Notable options: N/A.

Configuration: front-engine/all-wheel drive.

Engine/transmission: 5.5L 8 cyl. / 7-spd automatic.

Power/torque: 585 hp/ 590 lb.-ft.

Fuel (capacity): Premium (80L)

Fuel economy ratings: 14.7 L/100km city; 9.8 L/100km hwy

Observed fuel economy: N/A

Warranties: 3 years/ unlimited km (basic)

Competitors: Audi RS6, BMW M5, Jaguar XFR-S, Porsche Panamera Turbo S.

Strengths: engine; interior; performance

Weaknesses: storage space; fuel economy