The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.3

Powerful and fast saloon, designed by Mercedes and tweaked by AMG, offers thrills, comfort and huge running costs in equal measures.

Reasons to buy

  • Fearsome performance
  • Muscle car soundtrack
  • Exceptionally comfortable

How good does it look? 4/5

Mercedes’ tuning arm AMG has lifted the E63’s looks far above the standard Mercedes E-Class saloon’s, even after the car received the same facelift as the rest of the E-Class range at the beginning of 2013. On top of the smart new one-piece headlights, AMG’s styling team have added more aggressive bumpers and side skirts, and fitted wider wings to house the wide 19-inch alloy wheels. Four large exhausts poke from under the rear valance, and it’s for AMG aficionados to spot other subtle changes, such as tinted headlamps and AMG-specific LED daytime running lights. The changes add up to more than the sum of their parts.

What's the interior like? 4/5

The E63 AMG offers some extra sparkle over the basic E-Class

The interior of the basic E-Class is a masterclass in Germanic sobriety, but the E63 AMG offers some extra sparkle. Standard interior kit in the E63 includes bespoke electrically-adjustable nappa leather, AMG sports seats and a four-spoke AMG steering wheel complete with gear shift paddles. An AMG instrument cluster and a smattering of classy brushed stainless steel completes AMG’s end of the bargain. The rest of the dash is well laid out and easy to use, and only the single stalk control which operates the lights, indicators and wipers takes some getting used to.

How practical is it? 4/5

There’s more than enough room for five passengers, although a large transmission tunnel means the middle rear seat is best suited to children on longer journeys. There’s also a decent amount of storage space around the cabin. The boot is impressively sized at 540 litres, and betters the BMW M5 and Porsche Panamera for space, although the latter’s hatchback bodystyle makes loading even easier. The boot is a useful shape and has a low lip, making loading cases fairly easy.

What's it like to drive? 5/5

The steering is precise and delicate, and needs to be with all that power ready to break traction at the rear

The E63 is more than a straight-line sledgehammer. It offers plenty of ability through the bends, and feels far smaller and lighter than it really is, allowing the driver to exploit its massive performance. The steering is precise and delicate, and needs to be with all that power ready to break traction at the rear. Mercedes fits the E63 AMG with a three-stage Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) which offers progressively less electronic control. The E63 also features some bespoke suspension and steering components and dampers which adjust through three modes, the softest of which turns the E63 into a comfortable motorway cruiser while the firmest transforms it into a bare knuckle street racer.

How powerful is it? 5/5

From tickover to its rev limiter, the soundtrack is a bassy rumble and sounds pure hot rod

Despite the 63 name, the E63 actually features a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre engine, producing 5549bhp and 531lb/ft of pulling power. This adds up to a 0-62mph sprint of just 4.2 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. Acceleration is relentless, and on a test track the car can catapult from 80-120mph as hard as it can from 40-80mph. You’re hardly likely to feel short-changed, but if you do, there’s always the still-more-powerful S model, which is even quicker. Best of all, when you’re not going at full pelt, the engine is tractable from low revs and can burble around town smoothly and easily. From tickover to its rev limiter, the soundtrack is a bassy rumble and sounds pure hot rod. Power is transmitted to the wheels via a seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox which has several settings, including two which blip the throttle for smoother downshifts as well as launch control.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

The Mercedes E63 AMG is an expensive car to buy and run. The list price is well over £70,000, and there’s a huge list of options to choose from. Insurance will be costly, and it emits 230g/km of CO2, placing it among the most expensive cars to tax, although that’s an impressively low figure for such a quick car. Mercedes quotes average economy of well over 20mpg, but expect that to fall considerably in town, or on a fast B-road drive. The costs are huge, but no worse than its rivals.

How reliable is it? 4/5

The standard Mercedes E-Class represents a huge leap forward in reliability over its predecessor, and our test car certainly felt solid. AMG is an official tuner, and builds its cars with the same care as its parent company.

How safe is it? 5/5

The Mercedes E-Class on which the E63 is based scored a full five-star rating in the EuroNCAP crash test programme. Standard equipment includes seven airbags, blind spot monitoring and systems to improve nighttime visibility. A drowsiness detection system, PRE-SAFE – which predicts how the car will be involved in a collision and prepares the safety equipment accordingly – and an automatic braking function to stop the car in an emergency are all standard.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

19-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, a full bodykit with four exhausts, visual and audible park sensors are standard

Every version of the E63 is loaded with equipment, including 19-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, a full bodykit with four exhausts, visual and audible park sensors, heated and electric door mirrors and xenon headlights. Inside, there are heated, electric leather seats, climate control and sat-nav with a seven-inch screen and iPod connectivity.

Why buy? 5/5

The E63 feels more alert, more alive and far more involving than its direct competition. Only the Jaguar XFR comes close.