Street Fighter: 2018 Mercedes-Benz E63 S
Mercedes-Benz unleashes a 603-hp family four-door thrill-ride.
Wiktionary defines a blunt instrument as a heavy object, without sharp edges, used as a weapon. Or an imprecise or heavy-handed way of doing something.
A perfect description, no less, for the new Mercedes-Benz E63 S, a 603-horsepower, twin-turbo’d V8 blunt-instrument rolling on Darth-Vader-noir 20-inch forged cross-spoke rims.
How else could you possible describe a family four-door that can lunge from standstill to 60mph in an insane, tire-shrieking 3.3 seconds, pull an easy 1g of lateral acceleration through an Interstate on-ramp, and hit its electronically-limited top speed of 186mph without breaking a sweat.
And I haven’t even mentioned the sound-track that blasts from the quartet of rear pipes. Krakatoa in full lava-spew, Concorde on take-off, KISS playing I Love it Loud can’t match the Merc’s melodious muffler.
This is Mercedes-Benz’ fastest four-door sedan, for the guy or gal who would love to own a two-door Merc-AMG GT R supercar but needs a back seat for the kids, and a trunk that carries more than a box of golf balls.
Priced from $104,400 – or as in the case of our test car, $131,140 very nicely loaded – it’s the car that locks horns with Cadillac’s 640-hp CTS-V and BMW’s 600-hp 2018 M5.
To lovers of stealth, the beauty of the E63 S is that it kinda looks like the car your podiatrist might drive. Take away the big rims and air-gulping front spoiler and you have a four-door E-Class sedan with all the visual excitement of tofu. Paint it matte-black and no one would give it a second look.
Which, in the case of the AMG-tuned 63, is a good thing as the car is pretty much incapable of staying anywhere close to a posted speed limit. Fifty-five on an empty freeway? Ain’t gonna happen.
The source of all this spontaneous combustion is a hand-built 4.0-liter biturbo V8 shoe-horned under the hood. It’s essentially the same motor that propels Merc’s hip-high AMG GT R supercar, though the insanity is that the E63’s engine cranks out 26 more horseys than the GT R’s – 603 compared to 577.
It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic, strengthened to handle the V8’s 627 lb-ft of torque, that channels all that oomph to each wheel courtesy of a new, rear-biased four-wheel-drive system.
And the 9-speed comes with a wonderful pick ‘n mix of settings to suit your driving frame of mind. There’s Comfort for everyday cruising, to Sport, Sport+ – my favorite – and Race for full-on, white-knuckle feistiness.
It still strikes me as odd, however, that you select your gears not with a manly-man center-console T-bar shift lever, but with a stubby pretzel stick that sprouts from the steering column.
But open that bank-vault-hefty front door, slide into the deeply-bolstered sports seats, grip that salami-thick wheel, and let the grinning begin.
The entire cockpit is breathtaking, especially if you pay the $2,850 for the AMG Carbon Fiber trim pack that slathers shiny carbon across the dash and doors like a dry-waller spreads spackle. And what’s not to love about the purpley neon under-lighting, or the sexy brushed metal trim, or the perforated speaker covers for the, yikes, $4,550 Burmeister surround sound?
Now press the ‘start’ button, together with the button that engages the $1,250 optional-but-must-have AMG Performance Exhaust, and get ready for the ultimate E-Class E-ticket ride.
There are few phrases not riddled with expletives that can capture just how much fun this mad Merc is to drive. Just 15 minutes on a twisty, empty backroad with the car in full Race attack mode, and your face aches from uncontrolled grinning.
Yes, it’s insanely fast off the line – 3.3 seconds 0-to-60 makes it more accelerative than the 3.6 seconds of a 600-hp Aston Martin V12 DB11. But the real thrill ride comes from the Merc’s locomotive-like mid-range thrust.
See the gap in the traffic, pull back a couple of times on the lovely paddle shifter, and the car fires forward like a rock from a catapult.
And the combination of laser-precise steering, air suspension with adaptive damping, and sticky Pirelli P Zero rubberware, lets the car grip the blacktop like chewing gum to shag-pile.
This is a magical car that offers heart-pumping performance and handling, yet not at the expense of luxury, comfort and practicality.
Think of it as a blunt instrument wrapped in a velvet glove.