A ridiculously quick station wagon with comfort and technology in spade.
With all the doom and gloom regarding the current state of the station wagon in the US, there is some good news. American buyers at least have three fast wagons at their disposal in 2021 (assuming they can afford any of them): the Audi RS6 Avant, the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo, and the vehicle you see pictured here – the Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon. And each one of these wonderful long-roofs is very good in its own way.
The E63 S in particular blends German luxury and technology with AMG grunt, creating a sizable package that's impossible to ignore. And with modest updates for the 2021 model year that extend throughout the E-Class range, there are few arguments against the 603-horsepower AMG in the search for your next fast family hauler.
A vehicle's ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.
You're probably in one of two camps: Either you love the look of the E63 as a devotee of the niche but ferocious group of wagon fanatics or you hate it, associating the term “station wagon” with something your elderly grandfather might drive. We're not total wagon zealots like some, but we certainly lean toward the former – particularly when it comes to this exact car. Our $140,000 E63 wears a ridiculously cool Designo matte blue paint job, matte black 20-inch wheels, carbon fiber accents, a blacked-out grille, and carbon-ceramic stoppers with bold copper calipers. It's a gorgeously styled station wagon.
Those AMG-specific appointments join a lightly revised fascia that spans the entire E-Class range for the 2021 model year. The new front-end consists of updated headlights, a sharper grille (inspired in-part by the GT coupe), and slightly larger vent openings. The new features are minor, but they do help improve the overall look compared to last year.
The interior of the E63 wagon is, expectedly, very familiar and very stunning. It looks and feels like almost every other Mercedes in the current lineup, which is a good thing. High-quality Nappa leather and Alcantara (standard on this model) drape the seats and steering wheel, while sublime yellow accent stitching coats the dash and door panels and a beautiful black Dinamica headliner ($1,600) covers the roof.
Even with low-profile tires and a raucous V8, the E63 S is a sublime cruiser when it needs to be. In Comfort mode, the fast wagon putts along with nary a care. The highly adaptive Mercedes suspension is so well-damped in this setting that it easily shrugs off bumps and imperfections, creating a cloud-like ride.
The steering is relatively light in this mode, too, which makes the large machine pretty easy to maneuver. And above all, the E63 is whisper quiet on the inside. As with most modern Mercedes products, insulation and sound deadening on the E63 are unsurpassed – especially with the optional Acoustic Comfort package. The $1,100 option adds improved heat and noise insulation and infrared-reflecting laminated glass.
Passenger and cargo space is another positive point for the E63 wagon – there's just so much room. The front cabin affords the driver 37.5 inches of headroom and 41.7 inches of legroom, which is on par with the RS6 Avant’s 38.3 inches and 41.3 inches of front head and legroom. Passengers in the rear of the E63 wagon also get a solid 38.2 inches of headroom thanks to the raised roof, which is again close to the RS6 Avant (39.5 inches). Bottom line: even taller humans will be comfortable in the second row over long distances.
But if you're buying a wagon over an E63 sedan, cargo space is what you're most likely after. And the E63 has plenty of it; there are 35.0 cubic feet behind the second row and 64.0 cubes with that second row folded. The RS6 only has 30.0 cubic feet behind the second row, and with the rear seats folded, it offers 59.3 cubic feet.
We've always had very positive things to say about the Mercedes-Benz MBUX infotainment system. It offers great features like “Hey, Mercedes” voice commands and augmented reality navigation, and is generally very easy to use. But Benz updated some of the hardware here – the steering wheel controls in particular – and it's somehow slightly worse.
Mercedes removed the simple volume dial, haptic feedback buttons, and cruise control selector on the steering wheel and implemented a more convoluted button-less setup that consists of two piano black inserts with fully touch-capacitive controls. As we noted in our first drive of the E53 sedan, the setup simply doesn't work as well as last year's version did. The cruise control layout on the left side of the steering wheel is especially confusing and difficult to use; it's unclear exactly which selection does what. And things like the swipe directional responses aren’t well-received.
That said, MBUX is still one of the most comprehensive infotainment systems out there. The 12.3-inch touchscreen offers clean, crisp graphics, a relatively easy to use layout, and tons of features, plus a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with many of those same options. The addition of a drive mode selector dial on the steering wheel and a corresponding roundel on the opposite side for exhaust note, suspension, stability control, and transmission settings is a nice addition for 2021, as well.
“Blistering” feels like the most appropriate word to describe the E63 S Wagon in a straight line; this thing will shove you and all four friends into their seatbacks without hesitation. In Sport Plus and Race modes specifically, the ferocious twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 rips to 60 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds courtesy of 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet – all of that torque available between 2500 and 4500 rpm. And at high speeds, the E63 S shows no signs of slowing. Power seemingly never plateaus or diminishes, even well near redline.
All that power routes to each wheel via the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, which affords the E63 plenty of grip. An AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic, meanwhile, transmission manages it all – and exceptionally well. The transmission shifts with a crisp decisiveness in Sport and Race modes, but it can be a bit lethargic in some of the other lesser settings.
Don't be fooled by the E63's length and weight (197.1 inches and 4,725 pounds, respectively), though. This wagon is a sublime companion for twisty roads. The big-bodied AMG keeps perfectly flat even in the tightest turns as the adaptive dampers – in their stiffest setting – all but eliminate body roll. The steering is tight and reactive, and when joined by the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires (265/35R-20 front, 295/30R-20 rear), there's ample feedback from the road to your fingertips. And there's even a drift mode, which disconnects the front axle and sends power solely to the rear (but it's not for use on public roads).
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E63 wagon comes with things like automatic emergency braking, car-to-car communication, active parking assist, and a 360-degree camera right out of the box. But with the Driver Assistance package (a $1,950 option), the E63 also gets evasive steering assist, active lane-keep assist with lane-centering, lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and more.
Mercedes-Benz, in our experience, has one of the best active safety systems around, eclipsing BMW and Nissan and rivaling more advanced options from Tesla or Cadillac. And that's still true here in the E63 Wagon; a simple click of the steering wheel-mounted cruise control function and the Mercedes system does most of the work for you.
On the highway, constant steering adjustments keep the E63 perfectly centered in the lane. Adaptive cruise brakes smoothly all the way down to zero and even modifies the speed setting automatically depending on local limits (if you so choose) or, using GPS data, for upcoming highway bends. And the lane-change assist is our favorite feature, which moves the car automatically into the next lane at the flick of the indicator stalk.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon’s twin-turbo V8 achieves a modest 16 miles per gallon city, 23 highway, and 18 combined, just two points below our target combined fuel economy for the class. Considering there are really only two other cars in this specific segment, the E63 S sits right in the middle of the pack. The Audi RS6 Avant achieves just 17 mpg combined, while the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo gets a slightly better 18 mpg combined. Naturally, premium fuel is a must.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon is not cheap – but neither is anything else in this class. The AMG model starts at $112,450 before options, making it a good bit more expensive than the Audi RS6 Avant ($109,000), slightly pricier than its sedan sibling ($107,500) – if you fancy the four-door – but still more affordable than the Panamera Sport Turismo ($157,000). Our car costs $139,711 post options, and there are plenty of them.
Just on the visual side, the E63’s Design Brilliant Blue Magno is a $3,950 extra, the carbon fiber accents are $2,850, the matte black wheels are $2,000, the black Dinamica headliner is $1,600, and the darkened grille is $450. And as far as performance goes, the carbon-ceramic brakes are the most expensive option of the lot, asking a whopping $8,950 (and you get them in a few different colors). The Driver Assistance package is another $1,950, and Acoustic Comfort is $1,100.
E63 Wagon Competitor Reviews:
Gallery: 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon: Review
2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon