Looking at the images of the Merc E63 vaporising its rear tyres on this page, you’d never guess that this car represents AMG’s solution to climate change worries. The engineers at Affalterbach are convinced that a performance car needn’t tatter the ozone layer every time it rolls out of the garage. Ergo, the cleaner and greener E63 AMG.
The naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 is history, replaced by a smaller twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8.
It now delivers a claimed 9.8 litres-per-100km and 230gms of CO2 per kilometre, which is all great. But I know what you’re really wondering: has all this green-mindedness taken a toll on performance? Not in the slightest. Despite being no more powerful than its predecessor, this E63 AMG is unhinged fast. Sure, the biturbo 5.5-litre V8 makes the 63 nomenclature even more misleading and inaccurate, but what’s clear from the moment you step on the loud pedal is that it hasn’t lost any of the lunacy or pace.
It’s still a declaratory car that shouts and growls as it goes about its business, but in a marginally more restrained manner. The turbocharged V8 doesn’t crackle and pop on overrun like the old one, but it’s still one of the greatest sounding turbo lumps on the market.
But the best thing, by far, is the flexibility of this engine. Peak torque kicks in at a handy 2,000rpm making it extremely able in a variety of driving situations. Whether you’re crawling in town or hammering it on a twisty road, there is always a substantial reservoir of grunt to draw from. Like the much-loved C63 AMG, this car can literally be controlled by its throttle, too.
Understeer is cured by an extra dose of right boot while lifting off will pull the lively rump back in line.
Although a smattering of computers keep things tidy, it’s still a wild muscle car at heart. The back is flicked into lateral travel every time you negotiate a corner with the traction control off and anything less than careful application of throttle. Get cocky and it’ll promptly deposit you onto the pages of wreckedexotics.com.
But drive it with the nannies wide awake and it’s apparent that the E63 is finally a true rival to the M5. And even though the optional Performance Package — which raises the boost pressure from 1.0bar to 1.3bar and adds a limited slip diff — takes the horsepower tally to 557bhp, it loses out to the M5. Its 800Nm torque, however, out-thumps the Bimmer’s measly 680Nm.
Consequently, it’ll hit 100kph from standstill in 4.2 seconds — 0.2 seconds faster than the M5 and nearly as quickly as the forthcoming Aston Vanquish.
The seven-speed transmission ditches the torque convertor for a wet clutch and is much improved with the system rifling through the ratios with sniper precision. Manual shifts are a bit ropey, but leave the tranny to its own devices and the electronics will keep you in the right gear. Always.
The steering provides decent feedback, with things getting nice and stiff in Sport Plus, but your nerve endings won’t be tingling with excitement. Like its forebears this E63 AMG still has one eye on everyday usability and comfort, while delivering prison-baiting performance.
The V10 M5 was remorseless in its pursuit of pace, meaning the softer E63 was never viewed as a sizeable opponent. But, with the F10 M5 heading down the refinement path, the gap between the two is narrower than ever. Overall, the BeeEm is still the better car, but the E63 feels a bit more alive. It’s an absolute hoot to drive and it won’t damage the environment too badly in the process. Tyres? That’s a different story.
Model E63: AMG
Engine: 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed auto, RWD
Max power: 557bhp @ 5,250rpm
Max torque: 800Nm @ 2,000rpm
Top speed: 250kph
Price: Dh576,887 (as tested)