I have plenty to be thankful for this year, including the opportunity to sample a wide array of interesting and exotic automobiles. It’s a hard choice, but if I were to whittle that list down to a single vehicle I’m most thankful to have driven, it has to be the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG wagon.
Frankly, I’m thankful this car is even available in our country. Initially, this iteration of the AMG-tuned E-Class wagon was confirmed only for the European market, but Mercedes-Benz USA thankfully saw the light, allowing its uber-wagon to once again be sold in the U.S. as a special-order entity. We’ve heard rumblings that Benz sells roughly 10 examples in the U.S. monthly; if true, that means no more than 120 new E63 wagons will grace our shores in 2012. This may well be one of the rarest vehicles I’ve driven in 2012, even though I somehow found myself behind the wheel of both an Aston Martin Vanquish and a Bentley Continental GT over the last eleven months.
That’s hardly the type of volume to justify the expense of engineering and federalizing a vehicle, but Mercedes continues to do so as a means of appeasing its most loyal AMG enthusiasts. Despite the presence of D-pillars and an extra 13 cubic feet of cargo volume, this car most certainly entertains a driving enthusiast. The hand-built twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 cranks out a whopping 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and sends it straight to the rear wheels. Opt for the AMG Performance Package, and those figures increase to 550 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Provided those big 285/30R19 rear tires find traction, the AMG-wagon can blast from 0-60 mph in a scant 4.3 seconds before hitting a top-end of 155 mph (186, with the aforementioned package)
That’s darn impressive for a 4300-pound car that looks like your mom’s kid-hauler. Equally impressive is how genteel and comfortable the E63 is around town. My wife and I entertained a couple of old college friends during my weekend with the car, and it carried us up and down the interstate in tranquil comfort – and with room to spare for their bountiful luggage. Stab the throttle pedal, and the E63’s engine erupts with an intoxicating growl -- punctuated with the slightest hint of turbo whine – before rocketing forward. If bystanders, including those seated within the car, weren’t already aware of this wagon’s potential, they quickly gain an appreciation.
AMG is now fairly well integrated into the Daimler corporate network, but cars like the E63 AMG wagon show that wild, independent spirit that defined AMG some 45 years ago is still alive and well within the company. Is there a legitimate reason for this car to exist? Not really. Do its sales figures support its importation to our market? Probably not. And yet it’s here again, returning for the 2013 model year, allowing those of us sick enough to lust after 550-hp station wagons a chance to indulge our inner child and schlepp our own children around town in one fell swoop. Thanks be to you, Mercedes-AMG.