As should be anyone with a pulse, I’m a longtime fan of Mercedes’ AMG-fettled wagons. If Automobile’s All-Stars competition were a one-man show, the German company’s latest 603-hp E63 S people- and cargo hauler would get one of the very first slots in the highly competitive annual exercise. (You can read my take on the E63 wagon from this year’s competition here.) But unlike many people, I’d spec the unique performance vehicle in a way that allowed the Mercedes wagon to fully run under radar. Baiting muscle car owners into rather embarrassing situations would make me snicker with joy. Here are the details of my build.
Paint: While the color up top is intriguing, it’s a tough choice between Selenite Grey Metallic or traditional German Iridium Silver Metallic for maximum sleeper effect. Either add $730. But while I prefer the grey, the standard bright details are hidden better by silver paint. So that’s my choice. Skip the $3950 Selenite Grey Magno Designo paint. Not only is matte paint a bit played out at this point, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder—I do not want to behold it—and it’s also a royal pain to maintain or match in the event of an accident. Plus, it just calls undue attention to the car.
Wheels: All five options are the same size, 20 inches, and there are two basic wheel designs offered in various colors. I’d stick with the standard twin five-spoke wheel with gray accents. The matte-gray-accented version isn’t too bad, but I definitely don’t like the version with black details (both are a no-charge option). The $1200 forged cross-spoke wheels are too shiny for me, while the black version carries an unattractive silver lip and adds a further $500. One inexpensive Mercedes-nerd trick with the five-spoke wheels is to remove the fake center lock piece in the middle and replace it with a standard Mercedes center cap. It’s a far nicer, honest look with exposed lug bolts and furthers our sleeper mission.
Seats: The $2500 AMG Performance seats are a no go, as they’re very hard and don’t really fit the dual personality of the go-fast wagon. The standard seats are extremely comfortable and offer loads of support. As far as color, it’s your choice between brown, beige, or black. I’d go with the latter as the beige is very light and I’m not a huge brown fan. I wish AMG offered a gray option, as on some other Mercedes models.
Trim: This can be a touch overwhelming, as there’s a total of eight options. Four are no-charge: aluminum, shiny brown ash, natural grain brown ash, and natural grain black ash. Metal-weave trim adds $600, Designo Black Piano Lacquer Flowing Lines wood costs $1300, and AMG carbon-fiber nicks your wallet for $2850, the same price as AMG matte silver fiberglass. The latter is new for 2020, but I’ll have the standard aluminum bits.
Exterior Lighting Package ($800): I like good headlights and this option includes Mercedes’ LED Intelligent Light System and automatic high beams.
Warmth and Comfort Package ($1050): Perfect for Michigan—heated steering wheel, heated armrest, and rapid heating for the front seats. Just keep in mind that this cossetting package deletes the new-for-2020 AMG Drive Unit controls on the steering wheel.
Etc.: The AMG Performance Exhaust is now standard for 2020. Why anyone skipped that option in 2018 and 2019 is beyond me. The full-leather steering wheel (versus the standard synthetic suede/leather mix) is no-charge and my pick. It’s also free (and cool) to delete the side and rear badging, helping the under-the-radar case. Heated rear seats are a nice extra for passengers in colder climes, adding $580. And I like the synthetic-suede headliner for $1600 and all-weather floor mats for $120. Finally, I’d sort the factory Mercedes 19-inch winter wheel-and-tire package from the dealer parts department when autumn arrives.
What to Skip
A ton. I don’t need all the extras in the $2250 Driver Assistance package, $380 Sun Protection Package (rear-door sunshades) or $1100 Acoustic Comfort package. The new $550 Energizing Comfort package is comically cheesy. Why would one want prestored music collaborating with the climate control, the heated/ventilated (and optional massaging) seats, and ambient lighting to establish a “wellness setup tailored to the mood and need of the driver”? That’s why there’s a twin-turbo AMG V-8 under the hood.
Moving on, I’m not a fan of the gold calipers or the cost of the $8950 carbon-ceramic brakes, as the standard steel brakes are excellent. The black details that come with the AMG Night Package aren’t my thing; that’s $750 saved. Same story with the $1750 AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber package and $1100 head-up display. Speaking of, I don’t need a carbon-fiber engine cover ($1500) or side mirrors ($1200). There are two other steering-wheel-rim materials available, but one is unattractive (black piano lacquer/leather mix, $100) and the other (full synthetic suede, $100 and new for 2020) isn’t compatible with a heated steering wheel. The available no-charge seatbelts in either red or silver are goofy—stick with black. I don’t need massaging seats ($1320), rear side airbags ($420 + $250 special-order charge), soft-close doors ($550) or pre-wiring for rear entertainment and comfort adapter ($170). Three-zone climate control ($760) and AC power outlet ($115) are extras that I wouldn’t use. From the accessory column, be sure to skip the showy illuminated star in the front grille ($450), chrome door-handle inserts ($100), and AMG crest LED projectors ($275). I don’t need wheel-lock bolts where I live but you’re welcome to add them for $150. Wow, that’s a lot of options.
Total Cost: $117,625 (base price: $112,745)