2021 Mercedes E63 S AMG: First Drive Review
The 600-plus horsepower supercar sedan is one seriously badass Benz.
Imagine a mashup between Luke Skywalker’s floating Landspeeder, a Saturday night dragster, and a great white shark––a vehicle producing the strange sensation of hovering on air while also burning rubber in an egregious display of torque, while also dressed like Jaws. That, in a nutshell, has been my experience driving Mercedes’ 603-horsepower E63 S AMG sedan. And I have loved every second of it.
If all car reviews exist on a spectrum between Hollywood-style wish fulfillment and Consumer Reports, then consider this one shamelessly Hollywood. The E63 S costs the better part of 140k when loaded, and it’s just as over-the-top as you’d expect at that price. It drives like a supercar, and yet, doesn’t really ask to be gawked at. In fact, Mercedes will even remove the logos free of charge, as if to further reinforce the notion that there is actually something better than having F-You money, and that’s having “I don’t care” money. I don’t care if you don’t know what this costs, or how fast it is, because that’s between me, my car, and my lucky passengers.
Styling and Interior
In Selenite Grey Magno, it looks like a forbidding sky. The carbon fiber trim, the headlamps, the square exhaust tips, the intakes, all are pleasing. But nothing draws the eye quite like the new grille. New for this year, the vertical-bar AMG grille has a larger central star, and hits you with its presence almost as well as the SLS does.
The interior is so futuristic it’s hard to imagine this thing uses gas. The word Mercedes uses to describe the interior is “fluid,” and it certainly feels like it was made by pouring liquid leather, carbon fiber, and glass into a sculpture mold. At the center of the driver’s experience, the beefy AMG performance steering wheel delivers the tactile equivalent of the way the E63 S looks and sounds.
When I opened the glove box, I discovered a glowing glass cylinder. Had I found the E63’s Flux Capacitor? Not quite. It was a back-lit automatic atomizer dispensing AMG #63, a fragrance formulated specifically for this vehicle. I removed the glass jar from its dock and smelled it. It was pleasant, not overpowering. Mercedes says that it “resides between luxurious sandalwood and energetic ginger.” It was an explanation I accepted at face value.
Either way, when your car has its own fragrance, you take a certain comfort in the knowledge that teams of people more detail-obsessed than even the most obsessive-compulsive buyer have gone over this thing with a fine-toothed comb, creating luxuries you didn’t realize you wanted, and solutions to problems you will likely never have. Which, for its buyers, means a moment each day to not fret over details, to relinquish the need to micromanage; to trust in this machine and those who made it.
Before moving on, I’ll point out that the interior is not all perfume glove box and Shiatsu seats, but is also quite practical. I had both my kids in the back on a trip to Savannah, Georgia, with
plenty of room for their cumbersome car seats. And trunk room, which we always need more of, was ample.
What It’s Like to Drive
It’s simply the best-driving sedan I’ve ever experienced. Incredibly fast, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Because of the combination of adaptive air suspension, the nine-speed gearbox, and the massive hand-built AMG biturbo V8 that automatically adjusts to use the number of cylinders your driving style demands, the E63 just floats and shreds in perfect harmony. It moves with a mechanical confidence that is both balletic and dominating. It’s not just the speed or the ego-coddling price tag or the style or any one thing that got me, but how all these elements come together in an awe-inspiring whole.
Aside from the tech that you don’t see, there is an almost overwhelming amount of tech at your command. You can change the theme of the virtual instrument cluster to suit your mood. The windshield HUD also has different themes, and can be adjusted to display only what you want it to. I fiddled around and ended up with one that showed my gears and speed, and I ended up keeping it. And the driving modes, including Sport, Sport+, and Race, are also adjustable. Want Race Mode with quiet exhaust, or Comfort Mode with loud exhaust? You can do that. You can spend a lot of time tinkering and fiddling with the controls, or you can ignore them altogether.
What I loved most about the E63 is that when I wanted to merge onto a freeway and take it from 0-70-plus mph in a few seconds, it delivered. And then, on city streets, stuck behind a bachelorette party inching down the street on a pedal pub, or navigating a maze of one-way streets, it simply tempers itself to run like it was built for city streets… biding time until you’re ready to unleash its eight turbo cylinders again.
This is the kind of car that you can stumble out of in a grocery store parking lot looking like hell, and still feel like a million bucks. Unlike a supercar that says, “LOOK AT ME,” this thing says, “DON’T LOOK AT ME, but if you know something about cars, yeah, go ahead and stare.” It’s a car that speaks the language of connoisseurs, instead of the grunts of gawkers. And if you have a lot of money, and you want to buy a sedan, this is the one.
It’s really that simple.