4,32 seconds… That’s what the world of the super saloon has come to. Until the revised-for-2013 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG hit our test strip, the BMW M5 was the reigning champ in the zero-to-100 km/h stakes. No longer, though. The big Benz blitzed the strip in a time that beats those of such performance cars such as the Audi R8 V8, the company’s own SLS AMG Roadster and the Porsche 911 4S PDK.
But it isn’t even the fastest E-Class. Opt for the E63 AMG S and Benz ups the power by 20 kW to 430 kW, torque by a healthy 80 N.m to 800 N.m and trims the zero-to-100 km/h time by 0,2 seconds. But it doesn’t end there! European buyers have the option of a 4Matic model that goes faster still.
And yet, it’s a doddle to drive. Pottering about town, the Benz purrs and smooths away road scars and the odd bergie’s shoe. Twist the knobs on the centre console to their most extreme settings (for the seven-speed transmission, suspension and traction control) and it comes alive. The E has always been an intensely forgiving car to hustle simply because it flags its limits so clearly. Get into an M5 and it takes time, courage and a degree of talent to go quickly smoothly. The AMG, conversely, is a get-in-and-go car.
The engine, meanwhile, remains a peach. Sporting more power than before (up 24 kW), it pulls strongly from almost no revs and remains strong and extremely smooth to the power peak of 5 500 r/min. And it makes a mellifluous noise that’s spine-tingling yet never too loud.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual for Benz’s mid-range saloon. The cabin is dull as dishwater but beautifully constructed and spacious in all measurable planes, this model is very well equipped (sat-nav, uprated stereo, etc.) and the design update has done away with the clumsy rear wheelarches while imbuing the car’s frontal aspect with more aggression.
Subjectively, the revised E63 AMG now has the BMW M5 beat. I’ve driven very few cars that have such a clear duality of character. At once, it’s a comfy executive saloon and a thundering sportscar with blistering performance and easily exploitable dynamics. And isn’t that exactly what a super saloon should be?
Watch a video of the E63 AMG setting up a blistering lap time around Killarney here.
Model: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Engine: 5,5-litre, V8, biturbo-petrol
Power: 410 kW at 5 500 r/min
Torque: 720 N.m at 1 750 r/min
0-100 km/h: 4,32 seconds
Fuel consumption: 11,76 L/100 km
CO2: 230 g/km
Top speed: 250 km/h
Price: R1 275 604
Maintenance plan: 6 years/100 000 km
Service intervals: determined by onboard computer
0-60 km/h: 2,49 seconds
0-100 km/h: 4,32 seconds
40-80 km/h: 1,72 seconds
80-120 km/h: 2,33 seconds
100-0 km/h: 2,82 seconds (average of 10 braking tests)
CAR fuel index: 11,76 L/100 km