Mercedes-AMG E 63 4MATIC [W213] (2017 - 2023) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

Just as you'd expect, the Mercedes-AMG E 63 is a fearsomely fast business express. But should enthusiasts want this W213-series version, sold between 2017 and 2023? Let's find out.

Models

4dr Saloon / 5dr Estate (4.0 V8 petrol)

History

Mercedes-AMG claims to be gradually 're-defining' the high performance executive saloon. Back in 2017, the Affalterbach company certainly re-defined the E 63, its fastest four-door. At launch, this W213-series version claimed to be the most powerful E-Class model of all time. It came as an estate too.

With the launch of this model, performance enthusiasts realised that they'd better start taking the AMG badge seriously. For years, they had no need to do so. An AMG Mercedes was, after all, simply one with a bigger engine, stiff suspension and wider tyres. It was rocketship-quick in a straight line, always offering more braked horses than any rival could muster, but as a driving tool, well forget it. The first generation 'W211'-series E 63 model of 2006 perfectly encapsulated that approach. You got a throaty 514bhp 6.2-litre V8, but nothing like the dynamic prowess of a rival BMW M5. By 2017 though, things had begun to change. The Mercedes top brass, whose previous approach had been to design a model, then dump the finished product on AMG's doorstep and tell them to do what they could with it, started to involve their performance division in original development.

And that of course made all the difference. With an AMG Mercedes at last developed just like an M-series BMW or an RS Audi, the results were immediate, with the first beneficiary being the second generation 'W212'-series E 63 model of 2010, initially launched with a revised 525bhp version of the previous car's 6.2-litre V8, a unit then quickly replaced by a slightly more efficient 5.5-litre powerplant, also a V8 and eventually tuned to produce as much as 577bhp. This contender offered a stiffer challenge to its BMW M5 counterpart than any had expected and with this third generation E 63 model, announced in late 2016 and launched here in early 2017, that improvement continued - as it needed to given the subsequent introduction of an all-new BMW M5 model aimed directly at it. Few brands would relish the thought of taking on such an iconic super-saloon rival, but this businessman's hot rod, you sense from very first acquaintance, is a car that simply can't wait to start.

It was certainly well prepared for the task. New beneath the bonnet was the potent 4.0-litre V8 used in the supercar-slaying AMG GT performance sportscar, though in this form, that twin turbo unit developed even more power - up to 612bhp in the top uprated E 63 S variant, fractionally more than that competing M5. As with the comparable version of that BMW, this Mercedes finally gained an all-wheel drive system for our market, which worked through a more responsive AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT nine-speed automatic paddleshift gearbox. There was also a fully-variable torque distribution, various rear differential lock systems to aid traction and new air suspension customers could tune to suit the way they wanted to drive. Plus all the design sophistication of the 'W213'-series fifth generation E-Class model that the MK3 version of this super-saloon was based upon. The E 63 was lightly facelifted in 2021. And in May 2022, a 'Final Edition' version was introduced. The 'W213'-series E 63 saloon and estate sold until mid-2023, after which a new sixth generation version of this model was launched.

What You Get

In saloon and estate form, this E 63 is marked out from humbler W213 E-Class models by a bonnet with two distinctive power domes. Unlike some of its rivals, this isn't a car that likes to shout about its considerable potential and, despite the fact that everything forward of the A-pillar is unique to the E63, most casual bystanders will probably just dismiss it as a normal E-Class with 'AMG Line' sporty trimmings. The wide front apron was apparently inspired by the design of a jet wing and was embellished with black flics and a large front splitter. In profile, the huge wheelarches are particularly eye-catching, 17mm wider in order to incorporate this model's greater track width and its enormous light-alloy wheels. These are 19-inches in size on the standard model, with bigger 20-inch rims fitted to the 'S' variant.

Inside, you lower yourself into figure-hugging nappa leather sports seats that adjust electrically every which way - the upgraded, grippier 'AMG Performance' chairs you get on the upgraded 'S' variant are particularly nice. There's lovely blue-tinged lighting around the dash, the centre console and the doors, plus sports instruments and AMG branding for the centre console. You also get a flat-bottomed three-spoke AMG performance steering wheel with a race-style 12 o'clock stitched grey top marking. Aside from that, there's relatively little to set this top variant apart from a conventional 'AMG Line'-trimmed version of any standard E-Class model. It's all beautifully built and finished of course - with exquisite touches like the contrast stitching of the leather-trimmed upper dashboard, a pair of electroplated shift paddles, the 'trapezium-grain' aluminium trim inlays and, on the 'S' model, the AMG crest that's embossed upon the front seat head restraints.

Otherwise, things are pretty much just as they are in any other well-trimmed E-Class model of the W213 generation, which means that the cabin is dominated by a double-screen instrument panel, combining a 12.3-inch virtual instrument display with a second centre-dash 'COMMAND Online' monitor of the same size, both screens fitted into a single frame.

In the rear, passenger space is generous. If the front passengers have their seats at the lowest setting, you might find room for your feet slightly limited, but otherwise the rear foot wells are big and broad. The upholstery's supportively contoured too, holding you in a little more firmly than is usual, though that does mean a little less comfort for anyone who has to sit in the middle, legs splayed around the rather prominent central transmission tunnel.

As for luggage space, well raise the boot lid of the saloon version - it features slightly pointless optional electric power assistance on better-specced models - and you'll find the cargo area sides sloping in towards the bottom, which leaves a narrower entrance than you might expect, though the 540-litre capacity is marginally greater than you'll find in a rival BMW M5. It'll certainly be easy to stow several cases or a few sets of golf clubs. There's an under-floor compartment with more space too, though only because Mercedes doesn't fit any kind of spare wheel. It's under here that you'll also find a fold-out cargo crate. It initially appears rather flimsy but in practice actually ends up being quite useful, saving the need for shopping bags if you're doing a quick supermarket visit.

More space with the saloon model can be freed up by making use of the split-folding backrest. This usefully divides 40:20:40 so you can, if necessary, push longer items like skis through without disturbing rear-seated folk. There's no 12v socket in the boot, but you do get a useful side net for smaller items and a neat fold-down hook for bags so that your shopping doesn't spill over the carpet. We can't imagine why you might use a 600bhp E 63 to regularly carry really bulky loads, but if that should be the case, you'll be needing the estate model, which offers a 640-litre boot extendable to as much as 1,820-litres if you flatten the rear seats.

What You Pay

We'll base our prices here for the saloon version of this W213-series E 63 MK3 model. The estate values at around £500 more. W213-series Mercedes-AMG E 63 4MATIC+ prices start at around £66,000 (around £74,000 retail) for a typical 'Night Edition Premium Plus' variant on a '20-plate, rising to around £84,800 (around £92,750 retail) for one of the last W213-series '23-plate 'Final Edition' cars. All quoted values are sourced through industry experts cap hpi. Click here for a free valuation.

What to Look For

Check those huge, expensive-to-fix 19 or 20-inch AMG alloy wheels for scratches and nicks. Bear in mind that you can't fit a tow bar to any E 63, not even the estate. We've heard reports of EML illimination caused by a batch of faulty ignition coils, which were subsequently replaced under warranty. We've also heard that some cars have suffered from blown start-stop system diodes, in most cases because of low battery condition. We've also heard that the relay for the E 63's AIRMATIC air suspension system is prone to failure - that relay can get stuck in the off position, meaning that the compressor won't engage and the suspension won't drop the car towards the ground. And of course insist on a fully stamped-up service history. Otherwise, it's just the usual comments that apply to this W213 E-Class design. Most owners in our survey were satisfied, whatever kind of version of the W213 design they'd chosen, but inevitably, there were some who'd experienced problems. We came across a few owners who'd experienced failed NOx sensors - there are two that are a part of the selective catalytic reduction system. The cause is usually extreme exhaust heat and replacing the sensors isn't cheap. We also come across issues with brake judder and screeching, so look out for that on your test drive. And we've heard it reported that the body paint is rather thin and sensitive, so scratches and spots are common. Check the paintwork thoroughly.

Some owners have reported failing LED light bulbs that illuminate the floor under the side door mirrors. Otherwise, it's the usual things here; interior trim and electrical issues were the most commonly afflicted things that came up. Check for uneven panel gaps and paint flaws. Inspect the electrics and the air conditioning functionality - it should blow our really chilled air.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2020 E63 4MATIC+ Saloon - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £26. An oil filter is around £13. A fuel filter is around £36. Front brake pads sit in the £86-£136 bracket for a set. Front brake discs for an E-Class cost in the £112-£127 bracket, but for proper Brembo discs appropriate to an E 53, you'll need a lot more; a set of rear Brembo discs for an E 63, for instance, will cost around £324. A set of wiper blades is around £42. An air filter is in the £39-£55. A pollen filter is in the £11-£54 bracket. A rear LED lamp is in the £238-£281 bracket.

On the Road

Does a conventional V8 petrol-powered super saloon with over 600bhp capable of nearly 190mph have any place in a modern, increasingly electrified automotive landscape? You decide. This car is unnecessary. It's probably unruly. And it'll almost certainly be unbelievably exciting once you start to drive it hard. Especially if you select 'RACESTART', a selectable option that comes complete with this third generation model's freshly added 9-speed 'AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT' 9-speed auto gearbox. And one that thrusts your kidneys to the back of your ribcage as the car hurls itself forward, reaching 62mph in just 3.5s in the standard E 63 - or 3.4s in the E 63 S model. Yes, there are two variants, the base derivative putting out 571bhp and the 'S' raising that to 612bhp. Both use the 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine that by 2016 had for some time been fitted to all top AMG contenders, most notably the GT performance sportscar.

All W213-series E 63 saloon and estate models get a 4MATIC 4WD system that in the 'S' version you can disconnect on track courtesy of a red mist-orientated tyre-smoking 'Drift Mode'. Further 'S' variant niceties include dynamic engine mounts, bigger brakes, a clever 'AMG TRACK PACE' app for circuit days and electronic operation for a limited-slip rear differential that's otherwise mechanically-driven. Plus there's an extra, more focused 'RACE' setting on the 'AMG Dynamic Select' drive programme system. One of the elements that the 'Dynamic Select' modes can influence is ride quality, courtesy of the configurable settings you can select for a three-chamber air suspension system that's never less than very firm in its demeanour. That's great when you're pushing on though, especially on a track where despite its considerable size, this car feels astonishingly agile. Ultimately though, as with any proper AMG product, it's the epic sound this E 63 makes that'll probably be most influential in making you want to buy it. Some things never change.

Overall

Anyone needing proof that Mercedes' AMG division deserves to be taken seriously needs only to try this third generation E 63. Not quite as sharp as a BMW M5? Perhaps. Not quite as luxuriously effortless as the sledgehammer-quick Porsche Panamera Turbo? Maybe. But it arguably offers a better all-round proposition than any of them.

You wouldn't normally expect the adoption of 4WD to accompany the creation of a more agile, responsive, tyre-smoking package, but that's exactly what this MK3 model delivers. If you're brave enough to hoon around in such an expensive super saloon on a circuit day, you'll love the variable torque distribution, the improved 'RACESTART' system and the 'S' variant's 'Drift mode'. And on the way home, though you might object to the rather firm ride, you'll warm to the smoother AMG SPEEDSHIFT 9-speed auto gearbox and the extra frugality and refinement of the freshly installed 4.0-litre V8. Of course, it's not too refined: a true AMG engine never should be. Aural fireworks were part of what engineers Erhard Melcher and Hans Werner Aufrecht set out to create when they founded the 'Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach' brand back in 1967. And if you want it to, this car delivers them with spine-tingling speed. It's rewarding. And it's addictive. Enjoy it while you can.

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