Here's what to look for when buying a secondhand V8-powered AMG icon
By Tony Middlehurst / Sunday, 17 July 2022 / Loading comments
- Available for £49,000
- 4.0-litre V8 petrol twin turbo, all-wheel drive
- Pagani Zonda-matching acceleration
- Fantastically flexible and smart all-wheel drive system
- Well built, reliable, roomy, comfy and helluva quick
- Estate could be the ultimate PH car
Are you old enough to remember when 200hp was seen as a Roger Bannister kind of moment in motoring? Actually, are you old enough to remember Roger Bannister? He was the first bod to run a mile in under four minutes. As far as front-wheel drive cars are concerned at least, 200hp used to be the equivalent of the four-minute mile.
Things have moved on a bit since. Not so much in running, where the treacly pace of evolution has snipped just 17 seconds of Bannister’s record, but in the automotive world, where the advent of hyper-intelligent traction and all-wheel drive systems have totally revolutionised a car’s ability to grapple-hook its way out of corners at unfeasibly high speeds.
Unsurprisingly, engine power has rocketed to match this enhanced roadholding. More surprising is where this new power has been popping up. You kind of expect it to happen in the world of exotica, but how about more than 600hp in a production Mercedes estate or four-door saloon?
That’s what we got in the S version of the W213 Mercedes-AMG E63 that made its debut at the end of 2016. The ’63’ part of the name no longer referred to the capacity in litres of the thunderous normally aspirated M156 6.2 litre V8 that used to live under the bonnet of AMG’s biggest saloon/estate offering, which had itself been superseded by the M157 twin-turbo 5.5 litre AMG V8 in the W212 E63. You could, however, say that the M177 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 that arrived in the 2017-on W/S213 E63s (and that had already been used in the Mercedes-AMG GT) was more than worthy of the evocative 63 number.
In boostier S tune it pumped out 627lb ft of torque from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm, along with 612hp at 5,750-6,500rpm. When paired to the 4MATIC+ permanent all-wheel drive chassis with variable torque distribution that was enough to blast it from 0 to 62mph in 3.4sec from a standing start – the same time as a Pagani Zonda 7.3 V12 or Ferrari 599 GTO, and faster than a Caterham Superlight R500 or Bentley Continental Supersports 6.0 W12.
Of that selection, the Bentley was the closest to the Merc in terms of its extraordinary combination of luxurious passenger accommodation and face-distorting power. Mercedes-AMG had form in this rarefied environment, having created the world’s fastest saloon in 1986, the legendary 6.0-litre 400hp W124 AMG ‘Hammer’.
When the order book for the W213 E63 saloons was opened in the UK in February 2017, for deliveries in June, the prices were £78,935 for the regular E63 4MATIC+ and £88,295 for the S, with the specced-up one-year-only First Edition S coming in at £106,585. The S213 estate was premiered at the Geneva show in March 2017, with the first deliveries scheduled for August of that year. Prices were £81,130 for the base wagon, £90,490 for the S and £108,780 for the FE.
The AMG E63s were included in the E-Class refresh for the 2021 model year but by then its days were numbered. In May 2022 the Final Edition version was announced, 999 examples of which were built for worldwide sale to mark the end of the V8 motor in the E63. Although the 4.0 biturbo continued in the GT and SL in both hybrid and solo applications, its replacement by a 670hp 2.0 four/electric motor in the next E63 marks the sad end of a V8 performance saloon and estate story that started 32 years ago.
The end of an era often sparks the beginning of a new interest, so it could be a smart call right now to move out of pork bellies and OJ and into a W213 E63. It won’t be cheap, mind. The lowest priced one we saw for sale anywhere in the UK at the time of putting this together was £48,999. We’ll link you to that one on PH Classifieds (which seems to have by far the UK’s biggest selection) at the end of this story.
SPECIFICATION | MERCEDES-AMG E63 4MATIC+ W/S213 (2017-22)
Engine: 3,982cc V8 32v twin turbocharged
Transmission: 9-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 571/[email protected],750-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],250-5,000rpm/[email protected],500-4,500rpm
0-62mph (secs): 3.5/3.4 (3.6/3.5 estate)
Top speed (mph): 155 (limited), 186 (Driver’s Package)
Weight (kg): 1,950 (1,985 S213 estate)
MPG: 31 (official NEDC combined)
CO2 (g/km): 206
Wheels (in): 19/20
Tyres: (S) 265/35 (f), 295/30 (r)
On sale: 2017 – 2022
Price new: £78,395/£88,295 (estate £81,130/£90,490)
Price now: from £49,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
Twin-scroll turbos were used for the first time on the direct-injection 4.0 V8 in the new W/S213 E63s. The regular 571hp E63 had less torque than the S (553 vs 627) but its torque was spread over a wider range, the maximum output beginning at an earlier point on the tacho and ending on a later one. In reality you’re unlikely to find much to complain about in either car if your expectations are for rivers of power. It was the fastest accelerating AMG model ever. The S had 151hp per litre, beating the RS6 Performance by 2hp and the M5 by nearly 17hp.
Not only was the 213 measurably quicker than the 212 5.5 litre E63, it felt quicker too, assisted in no small way by the AMG Speedshift MCT 9-speed transmission. This differed from the 9G-Tronic auto in having a multiplate wet clutch pack in place of a torque converter. It worked superbly, firing in fast changes both up and down the box.
Cylinder management deactivating four cylinders between 1,000 and 3,250rpm helped to give both models the same official combined fuel consumption figure of around 31mpg, with nearly 39mpg on the extra-urban cycle, pretty remarkable numbers really for something so heavy (two tonnes give or take) and packing such a performance hit. The real-world numbers were nearer to 25mpg or 20mpg if you were driving in a reasonably excited manner and in a sporty Dynamic Select mode, the choices being Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. A fifth mode, Race, was provided, but only on S models. An AMG Drivers Package slipped the bonds on the E63’s 155mph top speed, lifting it to 186mph.
The 4.0 V8 might not have had the sheer cubic capacity of the old NA 6.2 but somehow AMG Mercedes managed to make it sound like an acceptable substitute for the original Hades chariot, especially when the performance exhaust was fitted. OK, it didn’t quite have the chest-beating depth of the big motor’s NASCAR gargle, but the 4.0 was still one of the few cars that could make the contemporary Audi RS6sound a bit watered down – an odd concept because in isolation there was no way you could describe a 2017 RS6 as watered down.
The standard exhaust actually sounded fine, with a separately tuned version for the estate. We think that post-2021 cars had a noise regs-dictated soft limiter fitted to prevent you revving it above 4,000rpm when stationary. Whatever, an AMG performance exhaust could be added to any E63 for £1,000 and was highly recommended by owners. The standard pipe was louder on start-up than the perf exhaust but a PE with its flaps open in Sport+ or Race modes made up for that whenever the engine was under load or executing full-bore shifts. You could open the PE flaps manually in Comfort or Sport. The standard system did have valves, but they were tied to the mode you were in.
There were reports of EML illumination caused by a batch of faulty ignition coils. These were replaced under warranty. Some cars suffered from blown stop-start system diodes, usually because of low battery condition. That could strand you at an inconvenient moment. Insurance wise these cars fell into groups 46-48 depending on the model. On servicing, M-B offered a Service Car package which for the E63 worked out at £45 a month based on two services in 24 months or three services in 36 months, with other options available.
The move to all-wheel drive for the W/S213 AMG E63 was driven to a large extent by the US market, where AWD is seen as more or less essential for anything with big power and a big badge. Thanks to them for that, because the E63’s 4MATIC+ setup was a win for all owners everywhere, offering not only the flexibility to route all of the torque to either axle but also, in the S model anyway, to take the front axle out of it altogether in Drift Mode. Just the job when you were feeling tail-happy.
You didn’t need a fridge-freezer in the back either, although you did need to exercise some perseverance to access it – engage Race mode, deactivate the three-mode (On, Sport Handling and Off) stability control, put the transmission into manual mode, pull up on both paddles, then pull up on the right paddle to confirm that you really did want Drift Mode. You could get a very fair approximation of Drift by knocking off the ESP but leaving the AWD in place, allowing the front end to tug the car out of corners in a very predictable but still fun attitude.
Regular E63s had a mechanical limited slip diff on the rear axle while the S had a faster-acting electronic one. Standard on all models was three-mode AMG Ride Control adaptive air suspension that had been tweaked to deliver a little more comfort than the previous E63. Not sure how successful that was because even in its softest mode it wasn’t at its best on busted British byways. Maybe that’s our fault for having rubbish roads.
Sticking with 19-inch wheels would take the edge off the worst shocks and perhaps reduce the crabbing at low speeds on full lock from which this size of Mercedes (and to be fair other marques) are known to suffer these days. Mercedes’ official line on this ‘skipping’ was that it was a comfort issue down to tyre sidewall flexibility, that it was at its worst in cold weather, and that cold-weather tyres would improve matters.
The air suspension did allow you to dial in an extra 25mm of ground clearance to save your splitters and the like from sleeping policemen, but some owners of earlier cars have experienced problems with the suspension software and hardware. Modules for the back end and for the rear differential have failed.
Also standard was speed-sensitive, variable-ratio electromechanical steering that was adjustable to Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus settings depending on which Dynamic Select drive programme you were in. The feel at the wheel was heavy but honest, and for many it felt sharper than that of the preceding W212 5.5 E63.
Standard wheels for the regular E63 were five twin-spoke 19-inch AMGs, going up to 20-inch for the E63 S and the Edition 1 which had 7-twin-spoke items in matt black with polished rims. Both E63 S versions had dynamic engine mounts, stiffening for extra precision in hard driving and softening for more comfort in gentler driving. They also had the £6,995 option of 402mm/360mm ceramic brakes in place of the 360mm steel discs (or 390s at the front on the S) – although we believe that the ceramic option might have been removed from the UK market on the 2021 refresh cars.
Some owners commented on high noise from the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres on their E63s, but if you were driving it right the other noises these cars made could do a good job of relegating tyre roar to the background.
The extended wheelarches of the AMG E63 made it 17mm wider than the normal E-Class. The aggressive, intake-heavy front-end design left those about to be overtaken in no doubt as to its AMG-ness. The rear-view mirror presence was probably as near to intimidating as M-B could make it without inviting criticism. Some thought it went too far and that the car would only be bought by drug dealers.
The main distinguishing feature of the S-based Edition 1 was its designo magno paint in either Selenite Grey or Night Black, with additional Titanium Grey detailing above the side skirts. Edition 1 spec also included a panoramic sunroof, keyless go comfort package, Multibeam intelligent lighting and Burmester surround sound. That bundle was separately available for normal E63s under the Premium package name for £2,595.
If you had either of the other two E63s you could dress up the outside with a carbon front splitter, side sill panels and rear bumper by ticking the £3,370 carbon fibre box. For £595 the AMG Night package (which was standard on all UK S models) gave you privacy glass, a black splitter, black sill detailing and black mirror housings. The £1,695 Driving Assistance Plus package included Active Blind Spot and Lane Keeping Assists, Pre-Safe Impulse Side and Drive Pilot which bundled together Steering Pilot, Active Lane Change Assist, Distance Pilot Distronic and Speed Limit Pilot to provide semi-automated driving in boring situations. We think, but can’t swear to it, that this driver’s package wasn’t available if you had the performance seats, of which there will be more in the next chapter.
You can understand why the estate was adopted as the official F1 medical car. Not only was it pigging quick and only 0.1sec slower through the 0-62mph than the lighter saloon, its cargo capacity of 1,820 litres with the 40/20/40 back seats electronically folded down made it the biggest in the performance estate sector. You could boost that by another 30 litres by tilting the rear seat backs forward by ten degrees, a typically thoughtful Benz touch. Even with all the seats in use there was a healthy 640 litres on offer (540 in the saloon) with easy access and a good shape. On the downside you couldn’t fit a towbar to any E63.
While we’re on about litres, you can fit 80 of them into the petrol tank, which in old fashioned money is about 17 and a half gallons. Undoubtedly that would be more than enough tank capacity for an average non-AMG W/S213 returning 40-plus mpg figures but was it enough for a car that was more than capable of monstering a German autobahn at 180mph for as long as there was juice in the tank? Probably not.
Looking at the cabin, some observers raised an eyebrow at the £88k-£90k new car asking prices of the S-spec saloon and estate. Admittedly, you might not feel the same sense of occasion as you would in a veneered-up Bentley, but you couldn’t really question the Merc’s quality – which felt superior to that of the W212 – or quibble about the liquid-smooth operation of many of its controls.
Nappa leather was standard for the seats and steering wheel on all E63s along with split-folding rear seats and two wonderfully clear and configurable widescreen 12.3-inch displays for the main cockpit and Comand Online operations. The S had AMG ‘performance’ seats and a steering wheel covered in a mix of Nappa and Dinamica microfibre with yellow contrast stitching. The Edition 1 model also featured yellow highlights in the door panels, centre console, AMG floor mats and for the central IWC design analogue clock, along with extra carbon fibre trim elements.
On the topic of seats, you were in a no-lose situation. Obviously different people have different body shapes, but given that most used E63 buyers won’t have the opportunity of sampling both types of seat over extended distances it was reassuring to note that the regular ‘comfort’ seats were receiving as much positive commentary in the press as the performance perches.
Concierge services were added to the Mercedes me connect system to let you know how your stocks were doing and to tell you what sports or cultural events you might go to to celebrate your successes. Ambient cabin lighting gave you a choice of colours and animation effects. Desirable options included a 360-degree camera and a head-up display, handy when you were travelling at the sort of speeds these cars could reach.
The W/S213 E63 crashed straight into that rare category of cars that, if circumstances dictated it, would allow you to clear out the rest of the vehicles in your multi-car garage and run just the one vehicle all year round without making you feel like you were missing out on something. It’s a complete package with a fabulous drivetrain and one of the most flexible sporting all-wheel drive systems ever, one that effectively gave you the freedom to choose more or less exactly how much input from your feet and hands should go into creating your desired balance of traction and handling.
It looked large from the outside but when you were on the inside it had that magical ability that really good cars have of somehow shrinking around you. The estate in particular offered an uncannily broad range of talents, reaffirming its largeness when you wanted it while still scoring high on the hootometer. The trouble is that everyone knows they are great cars and so there are no bargain examples on the used market. Non-S cars are cheaper than S cars obviously and you certainly won’t be disappointed by their performance or by their braking if you’re not planning on doing that many trackdays. On public roads you may actually prefer the ride quality of the smaller-wheeled base model and you can always pay somebody to lift the power if you really feel short-changed.
All right, so how much change are we talking about for a ‘213 E63? as noted at the beginning of this piece you’ll find few bargains. The most attainable example on PH Classifieds at the time of writing was this basic spec 2017 saloon in grey with 37,000 miles, the Night package and the performance exhaust at a pound under £49k. Perhaps explaining the price is an MOT history which includes two fails in 2020 and 2021 for shredded and/or cut tyres.
The cheapest S213 estate was this debadged silver 2018 car, also with 37,000 miles, and with both the pano roof and Burmester surround sound, tempting at £51k on the nose. There are two S models on PH at the same £54,995 price, both white saloons, one from 2018 with 36,000 miles and the other from 2017 with 47,000 miles, a higher Premium Plus spec and the performance exhaust. For the cheapest S estate on PH you’ll need £57,500. That will get you this 2017 22,000-miler in white with Burmester sound. There were no Edition 1 cars for sale in the UK as we went to press, soz.
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