Watch out, Audi RS6 – there’s a new load-lugging estate car in town…
The current king of the hardcore high-performance V8 estate cars is the Audi RS6. Not for much longer, hopes Mercedes-Benz: freshly available in the UK is its new all-wheel drive Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate, a car that matches the Audi for styling clout and straight-line performance, yet promises to add an extra degree of on-the-limit handling prowess.
The oily bits are familiar: the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is taken from the E63 S Saloon, a magnificent car that produces 604bhp and 627lb ft of torque. It’s the same engine that features in many AMG models, and serves up a ferocious 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds – aided by the traction of driving all four wheels.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate 4Matic+
Engine: 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8, petrol
Torque: 627lb ft
Gearbox: Nine-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 20600kg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
CO2 emissions: 214g/km
Rear-wheel drive is still optional though, if you engage Drift mode. So you can still smoke hundreds of pounds of rear tyres in an instant, by the car simply decoupling the front axle and turning off all the driver aids. It’s a remarkable spectacle that you can’t quite believe is factory-fit.
Particularly as this is otherwise such a practical estate car. Yes, it looks mean and menacing, thanks to all its AMG accoutrements, quad exhausts and ultra-large wheels barely concealing ultra-large brakes. But within, there’s up to 1,820 litres of space, which you at first barely sense when blasting down a twisting road: estate cars really shouldn’t be this agile or this supercar-fast.
Compared to the saloon, though, it’s not quite as all-encompassing. The extra rear space adds over 100kg to the kerbweight, which you feel when you’re turning into bends: the E63 Estate doesn’t respond as quickly and you sense a bit more general laziness than the four-door.
It’s still better than an RS6 though, with more poise and adjustability that makes the Audi feel a bit leaden. Perhaps the price you pay for that is a jiggly ride quality that fidgets and patters constantly, amplified by ultra-hard seats that have wings and bolsters and lots of support but little comfort after two hours behind the wheel.
But there’s not much else we don’t like. Throw in bad weather and the extra assurance of this mighty performance estate car helps its appeal swell yet further. It’s always sure-footed, despite its agility, and the noise it makes is almost always magnificently entertaining (as you’d expect from a car fitted with the £1,000 sports exhaust option…).
Speaking of prices, yes, it’s expensive. With a few options, our test car was priced at almost £100,000. That’s a magnificent amount of money to spend on an estate car. But not an uncommon one, judging by the competition. And as this car is almost undoubtedly the king of them all, it’s the one to go for if you have such a king’s ransom to spend.