Fire up the engine and you get the first clue as to what lies beneath the bonnet. The V8’s bass rumble is brash but brilliant – and then only when you push it hard. Although there’s always a faint burble, at low revs the engine noise is as civilized as you could wish for.
In fact, just how civilised the E 63 AMG estate can be is perhaps as startling as just how fast it can be. Put the gearbox and suspension in the comfort settings and cruise along and the car rides over imperfections well in all conditions – more so than the saloon, and more so even than standard E-class models in Sport trim. The cabin is also reasonably isolated (there’s a little road noise via the larger tyres) at all times.
All the time, though, you are only a push of the right foot away from unleashing huge performance. The maximum 456lb ft of torque is available from 3500-5200rpm. Pushing on with the car in the comfort settings is unsatisfactory – the gearchange from the seven-speed MCT transmission verges on being lazy – but select the Sport or Sport Plus modes and you’ll have no complaints about gearchange speeds. Likewise, the manual shift is super-fast and as crisp as you could wish for.
The ride can also be firmed up by two notches, with the middle setting best suited to fast road driving, and Sport Plus best left to smooth surfaces as you inevitably sacrifice body control as you stiffen the suspension up.
Merc makes a great play of its newly-developed sports suspension, which features air suspension at the rear and steel springs at the, saying it loads the steering with more feel than the standard car. There’s no question they’re right, although the steering still feels a touch light to be totally precise when you are pushing on.
Should I buy one?
All this performance doesn’t come cheap, but there’s no question that the E 63 AMG estate’s mix of outright performance and huge practicality make it a seriously tempting proposition for people who like to cover ground quickly with the family in tow or just like to spring the occasional surprise.