AOL Cars tries the E63 S Estate - Mercedes-AMG's supercar-rivalling estate, to see if there is more to it than just its performance figures.
What is it?
Fast estates remain perhaps the ultimate 'lifestyle' choice, and the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S may be the ultimate fast estate – in contention with the perennial Audi RS6, of course. It's taken all the brutish muscle of the E 63 saloon, added one of the biggest boots around, and created a package that's nothing short of astonishing.
The biggest change is to be found around the back. The stocky saloon boot is gone, to be replaced by a swooping estate body. It's not just good-looking – it's also massively practical.
There's a huge 640-litre boot, which rises to 1,820 litres with the seats down – that's more than some SUVs. It's a colossal space, and accessed via a wide, square opening to make loading heavy items just that bit easier.
It also improves rear headroom, so backseat passengers can really get comfy.
What's under the bonnet?
As with the saloon E 63, the Estate utilises a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine. In the hot 'S' specification, it produces a best-in-class 604bhp and 850Nm of torque – capable of rocketing this huge car from 0-60mph in just 3.3 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155mph.
That much power could easily overwhelm the rear wheels, so it's perhaps for the best that the E 63 S has four-wheel drive – sent to each corner via a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Thanks to cylinder de-activation technology, Mercedes claims you should see 30.1mpg on the combined cycle. However in reality, don't expect anything higher than the mid-20s – especially if you plan on using your right foot in the manner the engine encourages.
What's it like to drive?
The E 63 S has a very interesting duality of character. Stick the air suspension in comfort mode and it becomes a top-class cruiser, munching the miles with aplomb – if not for very long periods of time, thanks to regular fuel stops.
But tickle the throttle and the car's ferocity is difficult to ignore. Treat the big AMG like a muscle car and it will respond in kind – with an addictively raucous engine note and a close-to-unbelievable level of acceleration.
Its size is definitely noticeable on tighter country lanes, though. The extra heft is more noticeable in this wagon than in the standard saloon, thanks to that elongated rear.
UK drive: Mercedes E 63 S Estate
See also: Road Test: Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
See also:First Drive: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
How does it look?
To our eyes, the understated elegance of the Estate looks even better than its saloon sibling. There's something impressive about enormous power matched to an understated package, and the E 63 Estate ticks just about every box.
The only real indicators of performance are the large alloy wheels and quad exhaust pipes, making this a great vehicle in which to slip under the radar – that is if the exhaust note doesn't give you away.
What's it like inside?
The Mercedes' interior feels every bit the £100,000 super-estate it is. AMG or no AMG, the E-Class has a great interior, but thanks to the sports seats and carbon-fibre elements this one is even more distinctive.
The highlight is the 12.3-inch widescreen infotainment system. The sheer number of functions it controls can be baffling to get used to, but once you're up to speed it's simple and intuitive to operate.
Comfort is good all round, thanks to supportive seats – especially the heated sports items in the front.
What's the spec like?
There's no getting away from the fact that the E 63 S is a very expensive car. It comes in at £90,490 without any options, easily rising above £100k if you spec some choice options. Not that you'll need many, as the car comes very well equipped as standard – that excellent infotainment system, sports seats and a belting Burmester surround-sound stereo all come as standard.
Of course, the bulk of the car's cost comes from the sheer level of engineering and development that's gone into it. The 4.0-litre AMG V8 is a hugely impressive unit, and the entire powertrain is pretty spectacular as a whole. AMG vehicles don't need to be rear-drive to be involving, it seems.
The E 63 S takes a very compelling package and adds a healthy degree of practicality into the mix. With enormous practicality, there really are few faster ways to move a large amount of 'stuff' from point A to point B. Add in increased visual appeal – at least in our eyes – and the E 63 S is one of the most accomplished performance cars on the road today, wagon or otherwise.
Model: Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Estate
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Max speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 3.3 seconds
Fuel economy: 30.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 214g/km