Sleeper Car Review: 2018 Mercedes E63 S Wagon
If you’re at all familiar with Mercedes, you’ll know they love their station wagons. Mercedes is one of the few remaining manufacturers to offer wagon versions from most of their models, including the C and the E-Class. Making a big, practical wagon is just one part of the equation however. To make it fast and exciting takes knowledge and expertise. Exactly the kind of knowledge and expertise the crazy bunch at AMG have in spades.
When Mercedes launched the current E-Class a few years back, everyone knew it was only a matter of time before a hot AMG version arrived. The first E63 and E63 S came in the form of sedans, and they proved to be quite popular. The E63 S wagon is only offered in S trim, and although it’s a specific niche market, according to Mercedes it’s also one of their best. The people who buy overpowered wagons are loyal to the brand and indeed the fast wagon formula. The E63 S wagon is exclusively available through special order with Mercedes dealerships, meaning you first must even be aware of it, and then will and able to buy.
Flying under the Radar
A big appeal of the E63 S wagon is just how stealthy it is. This is probably the definition of a Sleeper Car or “Q-car” outside the states. It manages to fly under the radar so that to the untrained eye, it just looks like any other E-Class wagon. Sure there are over a dozen hints giving away that it’s not the average soccer mom wagon, but most people won’t spot them. Only those familiar with the AMG recipe will recognize that it is, indeed, an E63 S straight away.
From the front to the B-pillar, it’s almost identical to its sedan sibling. It carries the same front fascia as the E63 S sedan. This means LED headlights, a bulging hood, and an AMG specific bumper. It’s got two massive air vents on each side to aid cooling the beast that lies within. We’ll get to that a little later on however.
The real difference between the sedan and the wagon can be spotted at the rear end. For starters, the roof doesn’t start sloping down past the B-pillars. It carries over the same arch practically the entire length of the car, taking an immediate downward turn right at the rear hatch. The rear is dominated by a large chrome strip above the taillights, running the full width of the car. The rear diffuser at the bottom is subtle, while the quad exhausts are anything but. It’s a true quad setup as well. The tips of the exhausts can be seen in the small square cutouts designed to seamlessly blend into the bumper’s aesthetics.
Overall, it’s a much better proposition over the standard sedan. The fact that it’s a wagon somehow makes it cooler and more statement car. It looks absolutely terrifying in motion. Nothing of this size should cover ground as fast as the E63 S Wagon does. The RS6 Avant is a slightly more aggressive, but the Merc is still plenty aggressive and with more understated elegance to boot.
Luxury Meets Sportiness
At the moment, Mercedes is in a class of one when it comes to interiors. Step inside the cabin of the new E63 and you’re immediately aware that this is a special car indeed. Its German rivals feature sporty, but dull interiors by comparison. They’re basically an evolution of their previous generations, introducing very little in the way of novelty. This is where the Mercedes shines.
Let’s start with the dashboard. It’s been molded around the two 12.3-inch LCD displays which are centered towards the driver. The left one acts as the gauge cluster and the right is in charge of the infotainment system. When they’re off it looks like a giant slab of glass running along the dashboard.
The steering wheel superbly compliments the ergonomically perfected driving position. You sit nice and low in the car, so despite the fact that it’s a wagon, you have genuine connection with it. The sport seats feature integrated headrests and silver-colored seatbelts. They provide plenty of lateral support without being too stiff. When compared to the units in the Audi, the Mercedes feels like a Rolls-Royce.
Pushing the Boundaries
The full spectrum of Drive Pilot semi-autonomous technologies are present on the E63 S. This includes self-steering, automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. This is in addition to the usual array of standard systems like ESP, TC and ABS.
A Wagon with a Punch
The E63 S’ party trick is, of course, the engine. Just like the sedan, the wagon boasts the snarly 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 also found in the AMG GT. Because the wagon is only available as an S, it produces 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. The increase in power over the non-S variant is due to an increase of turbo pressure. Namely, 21.8 psi to be exact. That’s not a lot of power just for a wagon, but a lot of power period.
Power is sent to all four wheels via Merc’s all-wheel drive system and the AMG nine-speed auto transmission. The old torque converter was finally given the axe a few years ago, making way for this new wet clutch pack. When you add all of that together, you have a wagon capable of reaching 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. Mercedes has a tendency to announce conservative figures though, so don’t be surprised if that equates to a real-world figure of 3.3 or even 3.2 seconds. That, in case you were wondering, places it in company with cars such as the 911 Carrera S and the Corvette Z06. The top speed is now limited to 180 mph. Left to roam free it would breach 200 mph without breaking a sweat.
The new AWD system has a variable front-rear torque split. So although it acts as a true AWD system in most situations, you can tell the car to send 100 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels, making it a true RWD missile. It even has an electronically-limited rear differential, so it’s every bit a tire-smoking AMG all of its predecessors were. Large 15.4 and 14.2-inch rotors front and rear respectively take care of stopping power.
The figures tell only half the story however. The way the E63 S wagon makes you feel has to be experienced to be fully understood. The intoxicating soundtrack, the remarkable forward thrust when you press the loud pedal… there’s nothing like it on the market.
SUVs are have been eroding the station wagon market for decades, but Mercedes is still resisting that trend. And it’s resisting it with a 600 horsepower wagon that can annihilate most sports cars both in a straight line and on a racetrack. This car kind of has it all: practically, style, power and exclusivity.