Review: Updated Mercedes-Benz E-Class gets new AMG E63 S variant for year 2018

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

January 1, 2018

      

Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG E63 S

Mercedes-Benz introduced the newest E-Class Sedan for 2017, along with a new generation of available driver-assistance technologies, and now adds new variants for 2018 – an E400 4MATIC Sedan and an AMG E63 S Sedan.

The AMG E63 S is the most-powerful E-Class variant ever, with a versatile handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V-8 bi-turbo engine producing 603 horsepower and a zero-to- 60 mph time of 3.3 seconds, and stopping only at the governed top speed of 186 mph.

The E-Class sedan is available in five models, priced from $52,950 for the very basic 2.0-liter inline-four turbo E300 to $104,400 for the awesome looking, powerful AMG E 63 S, my tester for this review.

E63’s powerful engine has Eco start/stop for improved fuel economy, and is mated with an AMG Speedshift MCT nine-speed automatic transmission with AMG Dynamic Select, and AMG Performance 4MATIC-plus all-wheel drive. It also has ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist (allows high-speed cornering), and an AMG sport suspension based on the Air Body Control multi-chamber air suspension

The nine-speed sport transmission has been specially tuned, with re-engineered hardware and software, to meet the requirements of the new E63 S. This enables extremely short shift times, fast multiple downshifts, and a double-clutching function for drivers desiring an emotional gear-shifting experience. To save weight and optimize response time during acceleration, a wet start-off clutch replaces the torque converter.

Dynamic Select offers Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual drive programs to modify engine, transmission, suspension, steering, ESP, and all-wheel-drive system response to suit the driver’s mood or driving conditions. The driver may also select Manual Mode ("M" button) for shifting exclusively using the shift paddles on the steering wheel.

Comfort is well-balanced for comfortable suspension and steering, and fuel-efficient driving. Sport and Sport Plus allow shorter shift times and double-clutching on downshifts. Increased idle speed in Sport Plus also allows quicker acceleration from a stop. Individual, of course, allows the driver to mix and match elements from other modes – within limits – to create the desired dynamics.

E63 S is exclusively available with the newly engineered, intelligent AMG Performance 4MATIC-plus all-wheel drive with advantages of various drive configurations. Fully variable torque distribution ensures optimum traction for driving stability and handling safety in all road conditions, with seamless transition from rear-wheel to all-wheel and back again.

For the first time, the turbocharged V-8 engine is equipped with the AMG Cylinder Management system, which deactivates cylinders two, three, five and eight in the partial-load range to substantially lower fuel consumption. The transition back from four to eight cylinders is immediate and imperceptible.

My AMG E63 S was Selenite Gray Magno, a beautiful matte finish option for $3,950, with an AMG Night Package ($750), which added jet-black accents to the aggressive exterior. The central splitter and wide-open outer air-intake trim, front fender trim, side mirror housings, side window surrounds, side sill panels, and rear valance trim were finished in deep gloss black. A satin-silver chrome grille crosswing and black chrome AMG-branded tailpipes added to the mystique.

Twelve exteriors are available – two standard, seven for $720 each, one for $1,080, one for $1,515, and the one on my tester for $3,950. Five 20-inch wheel designs are offered – three standard, one for $1,200, and one for $1,700 (mine, matte black forged cross-spoke). Mine also had AMG raised hubcaps in matte black, a $36.50 option.

Three standard interiors are offered – Black Nappa leather with silver stitching on the seats, door panels/armrests, headrests, and dash, and piping on the seats and seatbelts, Nut Brown/Black Nappa leather, and Macchiato Beige/Black Nappa leather – with eight interior trims to choose from, including two standard (mine was high-tech Aluminum with Trapeze Cut, Black Piano Lacquer on the center console), two wood for $150, two "Flowing Woods" for $1,300, one Metal Weave for $600, and one for $2,850 (AMG Carbon Fiber).

An eye-catching arrow-shaped wing signet in silver chrome bore 3-D "V-8 BITURBO 4MATIC+" lettering to highlight the drive system. The extended side sill panels gave the E63 S a low-to-the-ground appearance and elongated the overall line. Silver chrome inserts in the panels and on the rear bumper, with diffuser-look insert, differentiated the E63 S from the base E63.

My E63 S had standard power rear window sunshades, heated and cooled front seats with memory, 80gb hard drive navigation, 10gb music storage linked with Gracenote media database, SiriusXM radio with Traffic and Weather, Enhanced Voice Control for audio and nav, 64-color LED ambient lighting on the dash, console, and doors, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, illuminated entry system, and universal garage/gate opener.

Five years of Mercedes-Benz mbrace Connect is also standard, with features for remote access, infotainment, safety, Travel & Assistance, and entertainment. Remote Access Services included remote start, lock/unlock, horn and lights, and Send2Benz (send directions to the COMAND navi system from a smartphone or computer), vehicle finder, message center (vehicle-related issues), dealer info, curfew minder, speed alert, driving journal (location and past trips on an online map), travel zones (preset boundaries), and roadside-assistance connection.

Infotainment Services included HERE local search, Yelp, news, point-of-interest download (15 million POIs in the mbrace database), My MBFS (financial services – account details, payments), investment data, gas stations/fuel prices, and traffic cameras. Entertainment Features included WiFi hotspot, TuneIn Radio, and iHeart Radio.

Connect Safety Features included vehicle diagnostics tests, automatic collision and alarm notifications, stolen-vehicle location assistance, agent-assisted door unlock, dealer connect, SOS/emergency call, safe ride, and crisis assist. Travel & Assistance included Mercedes-Benz Concierge, location-based traffic and weather, and turn-by-turn route assistance.

Car-to-X Communication is a radio-based exchange of information between vehicles, and between vehicles and traffic infrastructure. The system obtains information from outside the driver’s field of vision, such as an approaching wrong way driver, traffic congestion, or emergency vehicles approaching from any direction, then alerts the driver.

In 2013, Mercedes-Benz created FrontBass audio technology, which placed the woofers into structural beams in the footwells rather than the doors, using the half-cubic-foot metal chambers to significantly enhance the sound. My E63 had a Burmester Premium Surround Sound system.

A 12.3-inch high-resolution central display and a 12.3-inch wide-screen instrument cluster provided clear images and easy to use menus, with a COMAND system touchpad controller on the console and touch controls on the three-spoke steering wheel. A wireless charging pad was tucked under the center stack.

Pre-Safe may be one of the most-impressive safety technologies available on Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It essentially senses impending collisions and prepares various safety features – tightens seat belts, optimizes seat position/moves occupants away from side impacts, prepares air bags according to occupancy, closes windows/sunroof, turns on hazard lights, applies braking, and counteracts over- or under-steering. The system can even detect distracted or fatigued driving patterns and alert the driver. I am always happy to report that I didn’t test the system. Pre-Safe sound joins in by producing a "pink" noise to prep ears for the louder sounds of a crash.

Active Parking Assist, however, was tested and appreciated on a busy local street. Parking is almost totally controlled by the vehicle, with the driver handling the brake and accelerator.

My E63 S had several options, including paint and interior, totaling $18,995. AMG Advanced Lighting added $1,500, and included 84 individually activated high-performance LEDs for precision-controlled distribution of light. A "gridding" pattern allows light to be controlled independently to adapt to traffic and weather conditions and illuminate road surfaces in a very specific manner. This was interesting to observe in changing light and weather conditions.

Other options included a Panoramic Roof ($1,000), LED Logo Projectors ($200), Matte Black Wheel Hub Covers ($25), Air Balance Package with power rear-window sunshade and Air Balance fragrance system ($350), and AMG Premium Package ($3,600) with Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Congestion Emergency Braking, Active Distance Assist, Active Steering Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Head-Up Display, Evasive Steering Assist, and Surround View System.

A Sun Protection Package added $380 and included rear side-window sunshades and double sun visors. The Burmester High-End 3-D Surround Sound system added $4,550, a Media Interface cable, and Apple Lighting connector added $35, and rear side-impact air bags added $670.

The AMG E63 S is very attractive – sporty and elegant at the same time – and the matte exterior along with the Night Package was especially striking. Seating was comfortable and legroom was abundant. Acceleration was amazing – and a little scary – and driving was easy and fun.

With options and $995 destination charges, my E63 delivered for $126,995.

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