What is it?
Small changes have come to the Mercedes-AMG E63, tested here in estate form, although a saloon is available too. But if you’re going to go big German powerhouse, you might as well go full wagon, I always think.
The facelift comprises a mild exterior makeover, including a new grille that reduces drag and therefore wind noise at the front, while there are flatter tail-lights and a reshaped rear bumper and diffuser. New alloy wheel designs complete the outside alterations.
Inside comes Mercedes' latest infotainment system, losing the old rotary dial and gaining a touchpad on the centre console, plus a new steering wheel with double-stacked horizontal spokes featuring many haptic controls (meaning that, given the central screen is touch-sensitive, there can be up to three ways to adjust one thing).
The engine line-up remains unchanged, comprising a 4.0-litre petrol V8 that we don’t get in the UK and an S version that we do, making 603bhp and 627lb ft. The nine-speed automatic gearbox now has a wet start-off clutch instead of a torque converter and is said to be lighter and more responsive.
The suspension has been refined with the aim of adding comfort; there are no hard material changes, but bushes are altered, dynamic engine bearings tuned and damper hydraulics uprated.
What's it like?
I haven’t driven old and new E63s back to back, which would be the optimum way to really discern how great the improvements are on roads you don’t know. But our earlier drives in an E63 found that this car wasn’t as absorbent as it could and should have been, on poorer surfaces in particular, and that’s absolutely not a thought that occurred to me this time around.
The ride is well rounded and relatively engaging for a two-tonne car, which feels predominantly rear-drive but has 4WD traction on tap when you need it – which can be often, because its performance is effortlessly responsive. The V8 sounds good, pulls early and keeps going strongly.
Derestricted autobahns surely show this car at its best. One moment you can be waiting for traffic to clear at 80mph, the next, after some easy bellowing from the quick-to-respond V8, you can be exceeding the supposed 180mph (290kph) limiter. I saw 186mph (300kph) on the speedo and it was still pulling.
You can mess with damper modes, but my suspicion is that you’ll find one you like (probably Comfort) and stick with it. Likewise, there are myriad other options for engine, gearbox responses, exhaust loudness and so on. There are even programmable quick buttons on the steering wheel to switch through these, while the rest of the wheel spokes are cool once you get used to them, although the haptic volume control is, irritatingly, less responsive than a physical dial.