2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic - on the road, at speed

Maybe you saw our recent blog snippet on a bunch of US journos getting pulled over in the middle of nowhere in Catalunya, Spain, for driving a bunch of new 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG models. By all accounts, they weren't speeding – which makes me softly guffaw. I was there in that group, yet I had taken the more direct route into the mountains from Barcelona so that I could... well, so that I could go faster. No one hassled me and I had the Autovia all to myself. And it was the goodniks – the team players – who got nabbed because Spain had decided to suddenly enforce the never enforced "must carry an international driver's license" clause of the highway code.

The departing E63 AMG with 518 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from its M157 5.5-liter biturbo V8 hasn't exactly been poorly received. It isn't as crisp as, nor as pleasantly evil as its C63 AMG kid brother, but we generally accept that the heavier and larger car will always feel, well, heavier and larger.

As part of the 2014 E-class mid-cycle redesign, Affalterbach decided to give its E63 AMG more power and torque for the occasion. The base car now gives off 550 hp and 531 lb-ft, while the hotter S version I tested (formerly the AMG Performance Pack) produces 577 hp and 590 lb-ft. The other big novelty is that E63 sedans will be available with both rear- and all-wheel drive, while all US-spec E63 wagons will be 4Matic equipped.

Driving Notes
  • All S-trimmed AMGs come standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive, as well as an AMG-specific 4Matic clutch pack integrated neatly to the rear of the 7G-Tronic gearbox housing. This unit really alters the game of the E63.
  • While the pumped-up standard E63 with rear-wheel drive now reels off 0-60 runs in an estimated 4.2 seconds, this E63 S with AMG 4Matic can straight-line to 60 mph in just 3.6. Compared to the non-S E63, this S rips it up at low revs when urged.
  • Not much has been altered for the chassis and suspension layout, so the ride and handling on the 19-inch Pirelli PZero treads – 255/35 front, 285/30 rear – and AMG sport suspension is entirely familiar. Merc knows how to coddle me Euro-style, even in an AMG model.
  • Things do get pretty hardcore due to the constant fore/aft torque split percentages of 33/67 via the AMG-specific 4Matic. (Non-AMG 4Matic E-Class models run a default 45/55 split, and it varies depending on road and driving conditions.)
  • Along with a completely new front axle to accommodate 4Matic and a more aggressive front wheel camber, there is a quicker 14.0:1 steering ratio versus standard E-class models at 17.4:1. The more hardcore AMG setup is programmed to be 25 percent heavier feeling than the Sport settings of the series car.
  • The steering action while driving along those Spanish curves was impressive, assisted by the rear axle mechanical differential lock that is standard on S models. This, coupled with the throttle's newfound urgency, makes for a far more aggressive E-class AMG than I've ever experienced. It's almost more along the lines of a C63 Black Series, honestly, yet more predictable at the hardest speeds.
  • The few tunnels that I shot through were perfect opportunities to shamelessly downshift and listen to the four-tip sport exhaust with the windows cranked down. (See our Short Cut video below.) The twin turbos make for a lower 6,500-rpm redline, but the rumble is as good as what we've come to expect from anything wearing an AMG badge.
  • My only trouble came from the AMG Speedshift version of the 7G-Tronic semi-automatic transmission. In Sport Plus or Manual modes, this transmission as programmed is awkward at times. The trouble is the ultra-conservative settings for upshifts, downshifts, and throttle response when called upon to punch hard from low speeds or in transitions. It is reassuring that Benz promises they are working hard on exactly this issue.
  • All of the redesigned E-class AMG models will arrive in August, and while Mercedes-Benz USA does not yet have exact pricing to announce, the rear-wheel-drive sedan should not vary greatly from its current price of $89,800 due to "current sensitivities in the marketplace." Adding 4Matic to the sedan and wagon (current base price $92,400) should set you back around $3,500. Want the S version in 4Matic sedan or wagon flavor? Be prepared for a further $15,000 hit.


Autoblog Short Cuts: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG