Mercedes-AMG E63 – a wolf in wolf’s clothing

The BMW M5 has been the class-leading performance saloon since time began. Mercedes’ answer is the E63 – another brutally efficient machine with a 4.0-litre V8 lump under the bonnet. Churning out 612hp, the Merc offers supercar stats, racing to 60mph in 3.4 seconds and on to a limited 186mph.

Passengers are unaware of the drama in a suitable luxurious cabin. Our S model with ‘drift’ mode can even revert the E63 to rear-wheel drive, instead of permanent four-wheel drive. The price is £88,035 but with options such as ceramic brakes, our test car topped £102,000. As good as an M5? Read on…

The E63 is the most powerful Mercedes saloon of all time. It’s the sort of car you can imagine Lewis Hamilton driving when he has kids – ridiculously fast and very ‘Mercedes’.

What makes the Merc so special is the twin-turbo V8 engine. It gives Stuttgart’s finest tons of character and a mid-range punch that is irresistible. Overtaking is a total thrill.

This is achieved with little drama, apart from a thumping bass track to the enhanced exhaust pipes. The accelerator responds from any speed and just keeps on going.

Most of time I pottered around in Comfort setting by the E63 has a variety of drive modes to explore. Sport is the obvious choice for a country road, Sport+ turns the Mercedes into a snarling monster.

4MATIC four-wheel drive is standard – and very useful considering this is such a big car. However, our S model allows deactivation, so the E becomes effectively rear-wheel drive in Drift mode. I wonder how many executives will be using that…

Handling is kept together with ride control air suspension, enhanced to offer neutral cornering and greater traction, even at higher speeds.

Inside, it’s pure Mercedes. Ironically, that means the navigation system isn’t the easiest to navigate, the scroller and mouse control is simply too fiddly. Not sure we need the silly mood lighting either.

There’s intrusive noise in the cabin from the 20-inch alloys and even in Comfort mode, the ride is on the firm side.

But that aside, the Mercedes is a remarkable car. It’s not as quick as the BMW, or as comfortable but brims with character and appeal.

For most people, it will come down to the badge on the bonnet because there’s not much else to choose between them.


Mercedes GLE 63 S – the maddest ‘SUC’ out there

A sports utility coupe – who came up with that idea? Perhaps BMW, with the ‘squashed’ X6 are to blame. The styling of that car is takes ugly to new limits, so what chance the GLE then?

Well, despite cursing the shape from every angle, it’s difficult not to find this top spec version crazily entertaining. It isn’t the bodywork but what lies under the bonnet that causes a fit of the giggles every time I press the start button.

Forget AMG’s new 4.0-litre V8, this is the old 5.5 with a tank full of torque (like 760 Nm). It’s quite simple the maddest SUV – or SUC – I’ve ever steered. A high-heeled coupe that overtakes everything with a rip-roaring soundtrack.

Wide 22-inch wheels help boost grip and in Sport+ mode it simply flies from the traffic lights.

Inside, there’s the standard issue Mercedes dash – ruined by the barnacle infotainment screen that won’t fold away – great visibility thanks to the extra height but poor rear vision, due to the tiny, tiny screen.

It’s a bit bling, a bit loud and occasionally a bit wild but is there a better way to annoy Range Rover drivers? I doubt it.


What you really need to know about the Mercedes AMG GT S

So what do you really need to know about the Mercedes AMG GT S? Well, here’s my tick list of things that you might not discover from an hour-long test drive…

The seats are ridiculous hard! Trust me, I’ve had passengers of all shapes and sizes in the GT S. And NOBODY has got out without commenting on the silly, race-tuned seats. It’s supposed to be a grand tourer. My hips are aching as I write this. Top of your options list should be a couple of soft scatter cushions.

The upright infotainment screen really doesn’t disappear into the dashboard! You know it’s fixed in that upright position but trust me, you will still try and push it away. Yep, it’s that incongruous.

Mind the gap. The doors are very heavy. No surprise in a car this size and rather reassuring BUT they do need a good slam.

The auto dip/full-beam system is lazy. I know it’s been an Easter Bank holiday but why do they take so long to dip in the face of oncoming traffic? Wake up in there!

Luggage space is minimal. On top of that, the door pockets are virtually pointless because they are so narrow and made of stretch material. You need two hands to insert something – not advisable at speed.

On the up side – it’s way better looking that a Porsche 911, will win more admiring glances and sounds fantastic. As a driver’s car? Well, it still lags behind the user-friendly Porsche – and the brilliant McLaren 540 is only a few bucks more…

A nice problem to have.

Spoiler alert – the ugly Betty dashboard of the Mercedes AMG GT S

It’s almost Easter and I don’t want to upset you with a photograph of something very ugly indeed. The shocking thing is, the ‘something’ in question is inside the Mercedes AMG GT S.

They say that beauty is only skin deep and in this case, they might be right. Because although the Merc grand tourer is exceptionally pretty to behold, it isn’t so cute from the driver’s seat.

Yes, it’s another case of the ugly carbuncle of an infotainment system. Standing proud on the dashboard of the GT is a screen that looks like it was screwed on as an afterthought.

Now, I know some manufacturers of lesser cars can magically make a screen disappaear into the dash when not required. It makes for cleaner lines and a more pleasing design.

So please, can Mercedes do the same? The GT is such a gorgeous car that is deserves sp much better in the cabin….

Mercedes AMT GT S – take a soft cushion because the seats are made of rock

Staying in remote Irish lighthouses is fine – except there’s little chance to update a motoring blog. Internet coverage doesn’t exist and when it does, the moment is fleeting.

So after four days with the GT S I can tell you it is one hot car. Blistering pace, a raucous exhaust note and the sort of head-turning looks normaly reserved for a McLaren.

Park it next to a Porsche 911 Turbo and you will ALWAYS get the plaudits. Yep, it’s that smart.

On the road, the 911 is a more accomplished beast. The Merc feels (and is) big. It doesn’t inspire confidence like the Porsche and you could easily become unstuck on a wet, winding road.

Joyous to steer, my main complaint would be the ridiculously hard seats. A 40 minute test drive probably wouldn’t reveal the problem – besides you would be too in awe to notice.

However, any longer and believe me, for a Grand Tourer, you will suffer a very sore backside. On rough Irish roads the car can be a bloody nightmare after an hour. We had to stop for coffee.

My advice – take a soft cushion…

Time to pull on the right sunglasses – Mercedes AMG GT S

I have a collection of sunglasses. Mostly handed out as gifts at press events, I generally stick to my own bug-eyed Raybans.

The most expensive pair are made by Zegna. They’re beyond cool and for a gentleman ‘of a certain age’ you really have to be in the right place to wear them out.

Today is definitely a Zegna day, thanks to the AMG GT S. This is no AMG go-faster version of a Mercedes. This is an out and out sports car with brute force and incredible looks.

It’s all wrapped up in an aluminium body that makes the AMG irrestistable to drive.

We’re just off to catch a ferry to Ireland. Provided I can find some wifi in the west, we’ll be back with more tomorrow…

The best SUV all-rounder? The Mercedes GLC

If you must drive an SUV then you could do a lot worse than the Mercedes GLC. Sure, it’s not the cheapest model on the block but the mid-size GLC is the best all-rounder in this sector.

And I would try and stretch your budget to the 250D – an engine that’s a step above the 2.0D in the Jaguar F-Pace. The Mercedes doesn’t feel stretched when pushed hard.

Combined with a classy interior (apart from the carbuncle infotainment screen!), cool looks and decent handling, the GLC is a match for any other premium brand offering.

Just remember that you need extra long legs to avoid those annoying and rather pointless side steps…

The carbuncle that is a dashboard screen – Mercedes GLC

Mercedes won’t like me for pointing this out but the infotainment screen on the GLC is an absolute eyesore.

Somebody has gone to great effort to ensure the centre console is slick and smooth – somebody else decided to stick an ugly screen in the middle.

It’s like sitting in a beautiful lounge, with every seat facing an ugly black TV screen. What’s that all about?

I recently visited a hotel in Scotland with a large, gilt edged mirror in the bedroom. Turned out to be a TV when you found the on/off button. Brilliant.

It’s not just Mercedes, many cars have the carbuncle problem. Perhaps a unit that simply disappears into the top of the dash when not needed is the answer?

Step One – how to get out of a Mercedes GLC

You might think that after 50 odd years I would have mastered the art of stepping out of a car.

In the sixties, debutants were taught how to step in to a car in the most demure way possible. Not easy in a skirt and high heels I imagine.

Now it seems I need to retrain myself for cars like the Mercedes GLC, which have side steps. For every time I leave the driver’s seat, I can’t stretch beyond the edge of the step itself.

This results in a dirty line down the calf of my trousers – and no end of dirty words coming from my mouth.

So who decided we need steps to get in and out of an SUV? Land Rover nailed it with retractable side steps on the Range Rover but personally, I can;t see the point.

If you can step into a car, you probably shouldn’t be driving it…

The Mercedes GLC – even gives a proper Merc ‘clunk’ when you shut the doors

I think I might have found an SUV that I actually want to buy. Perhaps because the GLC shares its platform with the excellent C-Class – this is the best mid-size SUV I’ve driven in ages.

The GLC isn’t going to set your pulses racing but as an all-rounder it ticks many boxes. Great looks, sensational interior and a very decent engine that pulls well.

It’s also refined and built like a proper Merc – a decent clunk when you shut the doors and oozing quality.

For performance, you need to move up the range but with simple off-road driving aids and enough ground clearance for light off-road use, the GLC is a serious contender…