2021 Mercedes AMG E63 S — A dazzling mix of performance and opulent luxury

By Jim Prueter

(March 7, 2021) It’s luxurious; and fast; and very, very good; and sounds absolutely magnificent. It also costs a lot, over $135k, about twice the price of the non-AMG E-Class five-passenger family sedan.  Armed with fire-breathing 603 twin-turbocharged horsepower from its 4.0-liter V-8 engine along with a maximum torque of 627 lb.-ft and paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive, the E63 S launches itself to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds from a standstill.

Four seconds later, it reaches 100 mph. Top speed: 186 mph. Those acceleration times are quicker than the more powerful Dodge SRT Hellcat with its 717-horsepower. Among four-door sedans, Tesla’s Model S is a bit quicker to 60 mph — but just barely.

For 2021, Mercedes has given the E63 S some modest exterior appearance refreshing, most notably, the more aggressive new grille design with 12 vertical slats and larger tri-star emblem. Headlights and taillights have been tweaked and there are new 20-inch wheels. Inside, there’s a new steering wheel and the infotainment system adds the latest MBUX entertainment interface. Mercedes also said they’ve retuned the suspension for a more comfortable and compliant ride.

Our test E63 S came equipped with numerous options including the optional AMG carbon ceramic braking system ($8,950); 20-inch AMG forged cross-spoke wheels ($1,500); a carbon fiber exterior package ($2,950); and a driver assistance package with emergency stop assist, evasive steering assist, blind spot assist and active lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic active brake assist, and numerous other safety features. Other options included a glass sunroof, head-up display, and other optional features.

We also liked the Warmth and Comfort and Acoustic Comfort Packages that add heated front armrests and center console armrest, rapid heating front seats, and additional sound-deadening materials for a quieter cabin.

The entire cabin is appointed with the highest quality materials with impeccable build quality and hand craftsmanship. Operating controls, a combination of aluminum switchgear for adjusting the automatic climate-control system, along with a pair of 12.3-inch digital screens that dominate the upper dashboard. The interface is accessed and controlled via a console-mounted control knob that also allows user input by swiping a finger across the top. The two screens can also be activated by a pair of touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel or via voice commands. Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a Burmester audio system, and wireless phone charging.

On the road, don’t expect the E63 S to ride as smoothly over rougher roads as the standard E-Class luxury sedan with its softer suspension. The seats are some of the best I’ve ever occupied and will absorb some of the firm ride, so it isn’t in any way uncomfortable. Still bumps and potholes will make their presence felt much more so than in the standard E-Class sedan.

We especially liked the throaty exhaust sound that’s about what one would expect in a twin-turbo German V-8 sports sedan. There is a button on the center console that, when selected, kicks up the volume of the performance exhaust several octaves. It automatically engages when the driver selects Race mode as. Other selectable drive modes include Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Selecting Sport, Sport+ or Race significantly heightens the vehicle’s performance reflexes and progressively skews the E63’s suspension.

As mentioned, acceleration performance is massive with ample power. In order to ensure optimum output and response from the AMG 4.0-liter V8 engine, the two exhaust gas turbochargers feature twin-scroll technology. This reduces the exhaust gas back-pressure and optimizes the gas cycle. Thanks to the standard cylinder shutoff and further measures, these performance models are also highly efficient. When the driver has selected the Comfort drive program, the cylinder deactivation system is available in a wide engine speed range from 1,000 to 3,250 rpm.

A special display in the instrument cluster indicates whether the cylinder deactivation system is in use and whether the engine is presently operating in four- or eight-cylinder mode. The transition between these two operating states is immediate, fast and torque-neutral, so the occupants do not have to relinquish any comfort.

If we have any affliction relative to the E63 it’s about the sheer number and lofty price of available options. We’re disappointed that Mercedes charges customers extra for some of the most important and desirable driver safety features like the optional Driver Assistance Package ($1,950) that includes things like active emergency stopping, blind spot warning, lane keeping assist, lane change assist, cross-traffic alert function with automatic braking, active steering assist and more. Many of these are standard on sub-$20,000 vehicles but are extra here.

There are options for everything, both inside and out, like massaging seats, heads up display with five or six options alone to choose from, interior lighting options with various ambient colors, exterior lighting options, cabin air fragrance system, soft-close doors, carbon fiber engine cover, and, well, you get the idea. I get that people with the financial means have little objection to spec their Mercedes to individual taste, but I’ve tested a countless number of vehicles without most of these and never once wished they were included.

It’s clear that Mercedes set out to build a sports sedan that would put other “wannabe” competitors like its nemesis BMW M5 and Audi RS7 Sportback in its rearview mirror. To be sure, competition is almighty in this class and these vehicles deliver and operate at such high levels it really comes down to personal choice. We recommend you try all of them before choosing.

For me? I love this thing — it’s got such a sense of fun about it. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Vital Stats
Base Price: $107,500
Price as Tested: $135,790
Engine/Transmission: Handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter Biturbocharged 603-hp V-8 paired with a 9-speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic transmission, and AMG Performance 4MATHC all-wheel-drive.
Fuel Economy: 16/23/18 mpg – City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 5

Where Built: Affalterbach, Germany

Crash Test Ratings: The 2021 Mercedes E-Class Sedan models have not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as of this writing.

Competes With:
Audi RS7 Sportback
Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

Fab Features:
A dazzling mix of bonkers performance and opulent luxury
Brilliant Blue Magno (matte) finish
AMG Carbon ceramic braking system