Your modern luxury automakers have no room to compromise, especially when it comes to the mid-size sedans that make up the heart of their balance sheets. Hence the car above, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 4MATIC, an alphabet stew of German engineering that's meant to showcase the abilities of Mercedes' revamped E-Class sedans and wagons. Oh, and it will make 577 hp — which means that late next year, Mercedes will offer a station wagon that can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. I believe the German phrase I'm looking for here is Gott im himmel!
Mercedes has thrown itself into boosting the AMG brand to such a degree that the E-Class will get two versions; the everyday variation will get its power from a 550-hp version of the 5.5-liter V-8, while a "SModel" offers the full boat 577-hp tune. Both engines come mated to a freshly engineered all-wheel-drive system, dropping power in a 33/67 front-rear percentage split, through a 7-speed automatic. AMG also threw in a limited-slip rear differential for the E63, for "even better vehicle dynamics and more driving pleasure, in particular on the racetrack."
That last statement leaves me puzzled. Stripped to its essentials, this thing looks as if it could blitzkrieg Laguna Seca, with optional carbon-ceramic brakes, adjustable suspension and steering and massive rear tires built for its 186-mph top speed. And yet, those same models will also offer weighty extras most weekend racers don't need, such as a 14-speaker, 1,200-watt Bang & Olafson sound system and enough extra AMG badges to fill an Affalterbach flea market. That all-wheel-drive system is the only drivetrain offered in the United States; European buyers will get a rear-wheel-drive only version.
There might be a handful of buyers who will buy the E63 AMG as their pro-am speed machine, but I can't help suspecting much of this capability will never be tested in anger anywhere outside a Whole Foods parking lot. Something with this many ponies needs a bigger corral.