Nobody’s quite sure who decided that there was a real need to make IKEA visits at lightning speed. Whoever it was, well done.
Mercedes-AMG E63 4Matic+ Estate
Price: from £81,130
Engine: V8, 3982cc, turbo, petrol
Power: 563bhp at 5750-6500rpm
Torque: 553lb ft at 2250-5000rpm
Gearbox: 9-spd automatic
Top speed: 155mph
Official economy: 31.0mpg
CO2, tax band: 207g/km, 37%
What is certain is that Audi and Mercedes have been battling each other for supremacy in this niche market for nearly two decades now.
Audi’s entrant in the ballistic estate stakes is the 597bhp RS6 Avant, which can knock off the 0-62 dash in a flatpack-mangling 3.7sec. And now here’s Mercedes’ latest weapon, the 563bhp E 63 Estate. It trims 0.1sec off the Audi’s time, or 0.2sec if you stump up for the 604bhp S version, so you can escape the dreaded fast-furniture shops’ car parks even more promptly.
Crazy numbers really, but how does the new E 63 Estate feel in everyday use?
Well, there’s no arguing with what is the star of the E 63 show: it’s the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. The noise it makes is even more evocative than the Audi’s, the low town rumble giving way to an F1-rivalling snarl at higher engine speeds. One of the many driver adjustment toys you can twiddle with is throttle sensitivity, but irrespective of how soft or hard you make it, you’ll struggle to notice any delay between tramping on the pedal and being violently thrown up the road.
You can also hustle up the speed of changes through the no-option nine-speed automatic gearbox, and use the wheel paddles to pick your ratios manually. Leave it normal auto mode and it works well, but anyone coming a PDK-equipped Porsche Panamera Sports Turismo might find it slightly lacking.
Few will complain about the Merc’s air-suspended ride, though. Again, it’s adjustable, and it accurately lives up to the name of its softest Comfort setting. Even in the hardest setting it’s perfectly acceptable, the odd jolt being a fair price to pay for iron body control. Throw in big grip, nailed steering and clawing 4Matic four-wheel-drive traction out of bends (with a Drift mode option if you fancy the idea of RWD fun) and you’ve got yourself a serious tool that’s also very friendly.
Inside, the flat-bottomed steering wheel and configurable instruments that allow you to put the rev counter front and centre add a touch of sportiness to distinguish the 63 from regular Es. Electrically-adjustable sports front seats clamp you in place without wrecking long-distance comfort or cutting rear leg room, which is just as well as this is not a starring element in ordinary E-Class cars.
What is outstanding in space terms is the boot, which swallows eight carry-on suitcases plus another one ninth in the underfloor storage zone. You can angle the 40/20/40 split rear seats up more steeply to square up the load space, or fold them down completely.
Super practical and super-rapid in all conditions, the E 63 is a toweringly capabale machine. Its only weakness is the equally towering price – £81,130 (or £90,490 for the E 63 S. If money is no object, beat your way down to the AMG dealer.