Looking for a family wagon fit for the balding middle-aged boy racer? The E63 AMG estate is as OMG as they get.
It’s a quarter of a century since Nancy Fields, now 62, passed her driving test. But since then Nancy has never driven on a motorway, not once, not a single mile. She has never exhaled with relief as she scuttled down a slip road, joined the three-lane carriageway and let her car settle at a decent, uninterrupted pace. For most of us, joining the motorway is the moment a journey begins. At last you can take a chunk out of the mileage without the palaver of roundabouts and traffic lights. It’s the poetry of perpetual motion. But not for Nancy. “Oh, it’s too fast,” she says, eyeballs popping, “and you can’t stop. And what if you miss your junction?”
Ms Fields would be no fan of the new Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. It’s a huge estate, purpose-built for the open road. For the E63, there can never be too many miles. It devours that endless grey ribbon faster than a hyperactive child wolfs down a metre of Moams.
It’s easy to describe the flagship E63. It’s a technically sophisticated, high-performance goliath. Its hand-built V8 6.3-litre 525hp engine blasts you to 62mph in 4.6 seconds. It has an outstanding paddle-shift seven-speed gearbox. It boasts the highly regarded AMG Ride Control Sports Suspension that features three settings: Comfort (scary), Sport (more scary – nasty rollercoaster) and the needlessly intimidating Sport Plus (heart-in-your-mouth-scared-witless).
It’s a family estate car that can be fitted with a wheel-burning function which launches you at maximum acceleration and optimum traction. It would be nice to say that the E63 is the fastest estate car in the world, but that honour goes to a 765hp, street-legal MG-Rover (yes, really) which recently clocked up 233mph. But it is the most powerful estate car ever made by Mercedes-Benz. In fact, the AMG is nothing short of OMG.
What is hard to describe is why. Why does the E63 exist at all? Who needs a cheek-shudderingly fast estate car? The front end is a racing car, the rear a family wagon – the back seats even have Isofix car-seat fixings for toddlers. It has a load capacity of 1,950 litres and comes with a dog guard – imagine Bonzo’s jowly face as you hit 60 in less than five seconds.
Needless to say, the E63 is not cheap to run. It does only 22.4mpg and has CO2 emissions of 299g/km – hardly an A* for chivalry towards Mother Nature, but at least it’s trying. These figures better those of the outgoing model by 12%. Mercedes knows its hyper-estate will be a rare sale – they only expect to shift a couple of hundred a year, and those customers will all be rich, car-obsessed, dog-loving family men all deep in the throes of an acute midlife crisis. Good luck to each of you.
Finally, a message to Nancy. She’s not alone in being motorway phobic. The AA estimates UK motorists drive 600m extra miles each year simply to avoid motorways. The roads less travelled may be more picturesque, but remember that, statistically, motorways are the UK’s safest roads. And if you just enjoy driving, a survey this week by Mobil 1 has found that Britain’s most pleasurable road is the A82 from Glasgow to Fort William. Be sure to buckle up for the ride.