You’ll see the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 a lot more often on the street than you will on track during a NASA HPDE session. However, this car is one of those sedans that could hold its own on track if you had the nerve to do so.
We say hold its own because the AMG E63 is not, per se, a track car. It’s a crazy-fast street car that would be fun to take to the track a couple of times a year, but it would be no more fun than, say, a well-built Spec E30 or Spec Miata. Before you put one on track, there are a few things you should know about the AMG E63.
First, the car is heavy. At 4,232 pounds, the car likely would annihilate consumables such as tires and brakes. That wouldn’t be cheap replacing the 255-40ZR-18s up front and 285-35ZR-18s at the rear.
Another characteristic that detracts from the car is the factory alignment specs, which cause the car to understeer more than track enthusiasts would prefer. We suspect the car comes that way for a few reasons, namely, fuel efficiency, minimized tire wear and the general lack of understanding of vehicle dynamics on the part of the general driving public. Heck, because it’s a Mercedes-Benz, those alignment specs might even be programmed into the driving dynamics control system. Also relevant to track use, Mercedes-Benz makes it difficult to turn all those nannies off, hiding the settings deep in the car’s control system.
In terms of negatives, that’s about it because the AMG E63 is the kind of sedan that makes a great daily driver. It’s also ideal for long road trips and would be OK for occasional track use.
For example, it’s large enough to accommodate two couples in comfort, but not so big that it becomes difficult to park or maneuver. Its turning circle is 37 feet, about the same as a garden variety Toyota Camry. The E63 also has ample trunk space with a low lift-over to make loading luggage easier.
For long road trips, it would hard to beat this car, primarily because it has ample torque anywhere on the tachometer. The engine makes its peak 531 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 to 5,000 rpm, which is plenty for regaining lost momentum should an 18-wheeler suddenly pull into your lane.
All that power has been tamed through the use of the AMG SpeedShift MCT seven-speed automatic, which is really a clever bit of engineering. Rather than using a high final drive ratio in the rear axle and low ratios in the transmission, the AMG E63 goes about things the other way around.
Its rear axle ratio a low 2.65:1, but because first gear is 4.38:1, with 2.86:1 and 1.92:1 ratios for second and third gears, the car offers explosive acceleration from a standstill and from low speeds. Sixth and seventh gears are overdriven for leisurely freeway cruising, but because of the engine’s massive torque curve, there are no drawbacks to the E63’s powertrain design. It’s good everywhere.
You can instantly override the automatic transmission with the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. They work instantly, orchestrating crisp shifts up or down. When you get tired of playing with them, the system will default back to automatic, with no further action needed from the driver. It’s well thought-out and executed.
Of course, the cabin is the place to be, with French-stitched dashboard and door panels, black-wood appliques and perforated seating surfaces. The AMG also has a nifty little control panel on the right side of the driver’s seat that allows for adjustments to the side bolster for the thighs and back. That lets you dial in the seating whether you’re on a nice twisty stretch of pavement or a laser-straight freeway. The front seats also have memory settings for up to three different people.
So would you use Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 for hardcore HPDE duty? Probably not. Could you have some on-track fun with it from time to time? You bet. The best part about this car is how much it could improve your more mundane driving chores. And long road trips? Sign us up.
|5.5-liter biturbo V8|
|557 @ 5,250-5,750 rpm|
|531 @ 1,750-5,000 rpm|
|McPherson strut multilink|
|AMG SpeedShift MCT seven-speed automatic|
Rear axle ratio:
|2.65:1 limited slip|
|4,232 lbs. with 4Matic|