2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 Wagon

Matt Tierney

I probably should just come right out and admit that the E63 AMG wagon is my favorite car. So much for objectivity.

The E-class wagon, very nearly the lone survivor in this sadly dying and underappreciated segment, is already awesome. So how could an E-class wagon with an incredibly bad-ass-sounding, 500-plus-hp, twin turbo V-8 not be extra awesome? And that matte-gray paint with dark-gray wheels punctuated by bright-red calipers? Come on. Suffice it to say that there aren't many family-mobiles that will have sport-bike-riding motorcyclists shadowing you for miles on the freeway before giving you a thumbs-up and zooming off.

Granted, the current E-class is not really a thing of beauty. That stylized crease over the rear wheel housing is weird, and the car's front end isn't exactly coherent. But station wagon proportions, so long and low, are looking better by the day. They've become a rare sight, while it seems that every other vehicle on the road is some bloated, tall-boy crossover.

I suppose, however, I can muster some criticisms. The E63's ride is pretty brittle, and that's before you crank up the damper firmness to hard or harder. The auto stop-start mode, which I found so unobtrusive in the CL63 AMG, is somehow much more annoying here. It doesn't seem as quick acting. Luckily, you can easily switch it off by running the transmission in Sport mode rather than the default C (for Controlled Efficiency). Speaking of the transmission, it's curious that Mercedes has adopted the same, odd, power-boat-style electronic shift lever seen in the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

I do love the steering, however, and the perfectly shaped, Alcantara-covered steering wheel is bliss. Mercedes' Comand system has evolved into one of the best multimedia interfaces, and the dash layout and logic are pretty commendable all around. I'm less enthusiastic about the all-singing, all-dancing sport seats, whose the active-bolster function strikes me as a particularly silly bit of because-we-can over-engineering.

But could I enter into a long-term relationship with this car? Oh, yeah.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

There aren't a lot of station wagons on the U.S. market that cost more than $100,000 - in fact, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG is the only one. And even at that, the E63 needs to be special-ordered through your dealer. It follows then, that this is a car that caters to buyers with very particular tastes.

With the E63, Mercedes converted the relatively anonymous-looking E-class wagon and turned it into a sports car for the family man (or woman) by sprucing up the exterior with a gorgeous coat of matte gray paint (a $3950 option), nineteen-inch wheels and bright red brake calipers, quad exhaust pipes, and some aerodynamic add-ons. But what really transforms the E63 is the 5.5-liter twin-turbo engine whose 500-plus horsepower and 500-plus pound-feet of torque turn the wagon into a stealth rocket. Mash the accelerator, and all that power slams you into the seatback as your reach your desired speed almost as soon as you've decided what it is.

The interior is well laid out and nicely finished, featuring leather-covered sport seats with active bolsters, an Alcantara headliner, a large panorama sunroof, and surround-sound stereo, among many other amenities. The automatic gear-shifter takes some getting used to, but that's a trivial complaint when you add up all the other positives.

My only other complaint is that I didn't have the opportunity to spend as much time with this car as I would have liked. One short evening with the E63 is sadly not nearly enough time to explore all its capabilities.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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