First Drive: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

For AMG: typically subtle appearance changes inside and out
Compared with the standard E-class, the AMG version has a unique front-end design, with a wider, deeper front fascia with functional side slits (they extract air from the engine oil cooler). Wider front fenders make way for the increased front track and ultrawide rubber - 255-series up front; while the rear tires are 285, whether on standard eighteen-inch or optional nineteen-inch wheels. There is also AMG-specific lower bodywork on the sides and at the rear. Inside, there's the aforementioned center console buttons, a unique gauge cluster, sport seats, and available carbon-fiber trim. As before, the overall affect is muscular but refined.

Rumbling into dealerships this fall
The new E63 goes on sale this November, at a price that should come in below the outgoing car's upper-$80,000 base sticker. The wagon version again will be available, but only by special order. The new E63 does not offer a great leap in horsepower over the outgoing car, but it makes measurable progress in chassis dynamics and it offers a more entertaining transmission, even if it's not a stick-and-clutch manual. Its already spectacular predecessor was already arguably at the peak of the performance-sedan mountain. The new model marks only incremental progress, but when you're starting at this level, there's only so much higher you can go.

2010 Mercedes-Benz AMG

Price: $87,000 (estimated)

Engine: DOHC V-8
Displacement: 6.2 liters
Horsepower: 518 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 465 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Steering: Rack-and-pinion with power assist
Suspension, front: Damper struts, electronic damping
Suspension, rear: Air springs, electronic damping
Brakes: Vented discs, front and rear, ABS
Tires: Pirellit PZero, 255/35 ZR19 front, 285/30 ZR19 rear

L x W x H: 192.6 x 75.9 x 56.8 in
Wheelbase: 113.2 in
Track F/R: 66.2/62.8 in
Weight: 4058 lbs
Fuel Mileage: 13/19 mpg (estimated)

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