2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 First Drive: The autobahn bruiser
– Portimão, Portugal
A four-door sedan with seating for five, a generous trunk, and a gorgeous interior storming around the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve right behind a Mercedes-AMG GT S? When the sedan in question is the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S, you’d better believe it’s possible to keep up. (Well, and maybe the lead-follow instructor in the GT S is soft-pedaling it a bit.)
Thirty-year-old German racing driver Jan Seyffarth is at the helm of the GT S to help guide me around the best lines on this track. Known informally as Portimão, it’s the one featured in Episode One of The Grand Tour. It’s a wide, fast circuit with lots of elevation change and blind turns, and the E63 S just eats it up. As I cross the start-finish line, the speedometer flashes past 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour); just before the braking marker, it’s somewhere north of 240 km/h.
I dive deep into the optional carbon-ceramic brakes fitted to this car, which faithfully scrub speed lap after lap after lap, and dial in steering angle through the weighty, accurate three-spoke wheel. With the air suspension set to Sport+ mode, there’s almost no roll before the E63 faithfully scribes a big arc. All-wheel drive lets me unleash a wave of torque far earlier than should be possible, snapping upshifts through the nine-speed ‘box with the tactile paddle shifters. And there’s so much torque so early in the rev range, I don’t even need to downshift as much as I expect. Grippy, accurate, and fast, the E63 is supremely satisfying out here.