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Alter ego!

Team OD  /
09 May 2013 16:12:00 IST

Take a glass of water, an ordinary glass of ordinary water. Add a generous dollop of any of man's three best friends to it, Johnny, Jack or Jim. What you get is an elixir that millions around the planet are hooked to. And that is precisely what a Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG is like, an ordinary executive luxury car with an intoxicating brew splashed to full measure to liven it up.

But what a brew! AMG which has been turning ordinary run-of-the-mill Mercedes-Benz passenger cars into some of the most fascinating cocktails have injected the new E-Class with some of their finest. The result is an everyday car that is astonishing with its versatility.

I've driven several cars over the last ten years, from the cheap and inexpensive to Silicon Valley only exotics. For this issue I also drove one of the greatest Ferraris ever built, a 458 Italia and a few years ago even the last Renault V10 F1 car. Yet if there was one car that left a lasting impression it was - and no, I'm not going to say the E 63 AMG though your guess would have been close - it was the Audi RS4. That was a proper everyday supercar with such diversity to its abilities that it left me spellbound. Here was a car that you could drive everyday in the most refined, unassuming and docile manner, be it to work or the movies with your kids or the supermarket with your wife. Once relieved of all familial duties simply slip on a lid, head down to the track and wear your rubber down to the steel belts. In the very same car!

And the E 63 AMG comes very close to that holistic experience. It is for all purposes the car you can drive to work wearing your Ferragamo suit, skip out during lunch to the racetrack without changing your duds and you'd still get back post lunch without breaking out a crease.The Mercedes E 63 AMG is still very much the luxury car you can buy here in India. It does not even look like it has anything but a standard though powerful engine or any other trick bits injected by AMG. You have to know how to spot the details on the outside to realise something is amiss. But here's a run down; the bumper is an entirely different unit though it does look quite similar to the standard fitment. It has a prominent honeycomb mesh grille with twin vertical slats after it folds around the edge of the car which is a dead giveaway. The daytime running LED lights are a signature AMG element which looks quite similar to stock until you realise the stock car has a kink absent in the AMG kit. What you won't realise at all is that the front wings are wider by nearly 17mm enveloping swank 225/35 19-inch lightweight alloys and tyres at the front with a wider 285/30 19-inch set at the rear.

Now you'd slowly realise that there is a hint of muscle in this car in contrast to the almost fragile and elegant appearance of the standard E Class. Muscle however in the E 63 AMG truly lies under that hood. There's a 6.3-litre V8 under there, and with 527PS of max power and 630Nm of torque it matches the ratings of the SL 63 AMG, one of the most powerful roadsters in the world.

Driving the E 63 AMG isn't just special, it's an epic event that begins even before you thumb the starter. It begins right from the moment you step into what is the most un-Mercedes-like interior. The cabin screams power, a flood of raw savagery that looks like it burnt everything inside to black. The sports seats that look like they came out of a Miami Vice muscle car are the coolest you ever laid your eyes on. Sink into one and you know what's about to take place is momentous. Thumb the starter and instantly eight pots fire up in unison in shock as if they were rudely woken up from a deep sleep. Barks and spits later slide your palm over the extruded aluminium gear shifter and slip the transmission into drive and what you get is not savage, but one of the most refined engines that is deceptively smooth, silent and effortless almost like a standard Mercedes engine. As I mentioned this is a car that does the school or office run with as much ease and finesse as the standard Merc but the fun factor isn't further than your right foot.

Step on the gas and the power delivery from this engine is capable of blowing you back into yesterday and it announces this time warp in the loudest gruffest tone it can muster. All that torque is fed to the rear wheels through the AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed transmission borrowed from the SL 63 AMG. This transmission has four drive modes activated at the touch of a button along with a Race Start function which is similar to launch control. From standstill this is in an incredibly rapid car. It goes to 100kmph in just 4.5 seconds which is just a second slower than the 458 Italia but nearly as quick as a stock Lamborghini Gallardo.

Despite that massively powerful engine, the E 63 AMG is also quite the tree hugger. It has an efficiency of 7.9kmpl but in addition includes an on demand fuel delivery system along with a brake energy recuperation system.

This V8 engine built in Affalterbach, AMG headquarters located close to Stuttgart is also complemented by a dynamic suspension set-up. AMG aren't just engine tuners and builders they also provide all the means necessary to harness and control that power. So the E 63 AMG gets electronic damping and a new front axle that was first used in the C 63 AMG to provide the right set of dynamics. This new axle increases track by 56mm, so immediately the car gets a more stable footprint which is further supported by a tubular stabilizer, new control arms and a host of suspension travel and positioning enhancements that increase camber and therefore provide more cornering stability. Steel spring struts replace the conventional set at the front and AMG specific air springs are found at the rear. The rear unit has an automatic level control which regulates ride irrespective of load with the rear axle also incorporating the same axle principles as the front.

The electronically controlled suspension provides a mix of real world comfort and track ready dynamics with a selection of Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes. The ride in everyday situations isn't very different from the standard car; on the contrary the increase in stiffness eliminates body roll and provides a firmness that isn't going to be upset easily even by our uneven surfaces.

Steering is also more direct than standard thanks to a re-geared steering ratio and more sensitive rack and pinion. Like every other AMG you can switch off traction control completely or choose to allow moderate to full intervention. But no matter what mode you drive it in the combination of that engine and suspension makes the E 63 AMG a very easy car to drive. The power delivery is instantaneous with enough in reserve to get out of any sticky situation while the steering makes both effortless commuting or dedicated maneuvering a sensational act. The E 63 AMG despite its rather heavy two-tonne kerb weight definitely feels a lot lighter, easier to navigate and more flickable than even the standard E Class. That more than just how powerful the engine is or how fast it goes in a straight line is what defines this car.

What's most interesting though is that in Europe you can swap the suspension in your standard E-Class for the more dynamic AMG kit. Just that modification alone if made available in India is enough to elevate this car way to a realm where a fine mist separates everyday luxury and practicality from a 'minute to win it' kind of sensationalism.

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