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.