Currently, Mercedes-AMG has a line-up of 23 models, and 18 of them are available exclusively with all-wheel drive. The mental Mercedes-AMG E 63 S is the latest, arriving in the Middle East next summer…

Sometimes I have to wonder how these focus groups work, when auto manufacturers’ marketing departments get a bunch of people into a room and ask them questions. They obviously get stupid answers in return. Such as the guy who responded that, yes, he would very much like his next executive saloon to just about drive itself on the way to the corner office. And that yes, he does want this semi-autonomous vehicle to make around as much power as a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a money-no-object halo creation launched a decade ago that was once the most powerful car in the world.

I don’t know, but these focus groups must really care for those autopilots… This is the new Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, and in traffic, it can drive itself. Daimler Middle East already ran a latest-generation E-Class between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in full autonomous mode with no input from a human being earlier this year. And it has 604 horsepower… In layman’s terms, that’s about twice as much as you’ll ever need, but as Abraham Lincoln said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.

Well, I’ve seen it, and it’s not pretty. Six hundred horsepower in a saloon, it turns timid, family men into sadistic vandals. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Twos? Suddenly, these men hate them with a passion. Kill all tyres, the inner voice chants.

Except you can’t because AMG, the Stuttgart luxury car company’s performance arm based nearby in the town of Affalterbach, has fitted the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S with all-wheel drive for the fourth regeneration model, and all-wheel drive is the only option you can have. Instead of sitting there and spinning its rear wheels uselessly and making smoke, the new Mercedes-AMG E 63 S just claws away at the tarmac and shoots off rearranging the features of your face.

So you put your foot down, and the electronic launch control system blasts two tonnes of steel, aluminum and glass forward like a projectile, the transmission is relentless through nine gears on the way to a 300km/h top speed. The Germans actually had to put an electronic limiter in there, otherwise who knows how far it’d keep going, and you’d need Boeing-spec brakes to bring this thing to a stop. And it’s not like the standard carbon ceramic brakes are useless, measuring 402mm up front and 360mm at the rear. The front brake disc alone is the size of a Honda Civic’s entire wheel.

Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

Acceleration, then, is savage, primed by a secondary clutch permanently dunked in oil (hence called a wet-clutch) that can repeat the show, again and again, all day long – 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds. A tenth of a second quicker than that SLR McLaren we mentioned, which was a two-seater purpose-built weapon developed by one of the winningest Formula One teams in history.

Inside, the (human) driver can choose from an infinite spectrum of mood lighting (sinister red kind of sets the tone) or poke around the twin 12.3-inch screens forming the command centre of this spaceship on wheels. Rear passengers get about as much room as those in Mercedes’ flagship limousine, the S-Class, thanks to increased length, width and wheelbase dimensions. If there’s a first class seat this nice I’d love to see it. I know it all makes little sense, but hey, the focus groups spoke.

With that all-wheel-drive security, up and down the twisting roads meandering across Portugal’s blue gum plantations the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S goes where you point it and gets there fast. The biggest trick Affalterbach ever pulled with the E 63 S is that you can’t feel its two-tonne mass, with careful tuning to the steering and sensory controls that fool the driver into believing they’re wheeling a smaller, more lithe automobile. This is quite a good thing because small it ain’t.

Problems? Those incredible Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Twos, normally reserved for the hypercars of the world like Porsche’s million-dollar 918 Spyder, are far too noisy for a luxury limousine such as this and provide the ride quality of a wheelbarrow. The Merc’s all-corner air-suspension saves it, but this amount of tyre roar on all road surfaces surely necessitates a few more kilos of sound deadening material in the wheel wells. At least it makes for a topic of discussion at the next focus group.

Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

Mercedes-AMG E 63 S:

  • 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine;
  • 604 horsepower and 850Nm of torque;
  • 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds;
  • Top speed of 300km/h;
  • From $140,000.
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

Dejan Jovanovic

After years writing about fast cars in Dubai, Dejan Jovanovic is now a European-based motoring journalist covering the industry for UK and Middle East titles.
Dejan Jovanovic