For various reasons I had to go and see the Mercedes dealership yesterday where a year and a half ago I bought our family car, an MB GL 350. The dealer is also what is called an AMG Performance Center, meaning you see more AMG of all kinds than regular MB models. This time he had something up the sleeve for me. There were a couple of cars he felt I should try out. I follow his advice, and boy was I happy that I did!
I was first handed the keys to the slightly surreal creature called GL (as from this year GLS) 63 AMG. The boys from Affalterbach never put their hands on the first generation GL, but they did so with the second, starting in 2013. The GL 63 has the same 5.5 litre, double turbo V8 engine as other 63 models, which in the GL develops 557 hp. Now as a reminder, the GL is 5.12 metres long and weighs 2.6 tons, so to make this work in any practical way they have worked quite heavily on (most) other parts as well. Notably the AMG version as standard features MB’s Active Curve System, basically aiming to remove the laws of physics.
Put your foot on the break and press the button and you will be greeted with a somewhat subdued but still gorgeous V8 sound of the type we don’t get to hear that often anymore. And when you put the AMG Speedshift in Drive, all hell breaks lose. The beast does 0-100 in 4.5 seconds whilst at the same time, to borrow an expression from Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman “corners like it’s on rails”. It is completely surreal how AMG have succeeded in masking the weight and the size of this machine and transform it to a completely different car. 760 Nm of torque seem to be available at whatever speed and in whatever gear, and acceleration is endless.
Coming back after a test drive including both mountain roads and motorway, I suspect my face featured more of a surprised than a smiling expression, but that was about to change. The dealer now handed me the keys to a sparkling, diamond-white E 63 AMG S Estate featuring lots of goodies, including the AMG Driver’s Package meaning the 250 km/h limitation goes out the window. The S version also means a boost of another 30 hp, so the same V8 engine now produces 585 hp and 800 Nm of torque (and tests conducted on these cars typically indicate a higher power output than that). Without being small, the car still weights more than half a ton less than the GL.
Where the GL exhaust sound at start-up was somewhat subdued, this is nothing but spectacular. The engine blubbers and blows in a way that will put a giant smile on anyone but the heartless and the Greens, and from that point on, that smile will never leave your face. Again, it’s what AMG succeeds at doing in masking the weight that is most impressive. I used to have the same car with a 292 hp V6 and an AMG chassis. That was a great car but it was never a sports car, rather at all times feeling extremely solid – and heavy. This is like driving a completely different car. It feels light, the steering is precise, the breaks have a solid bite and you can literally throw it around corners in a way I would maybe not have done had the dealer been sitting next to me. And then the engine… The reduced weight means a 0-100 time of around 3.5 seconds and an acceleration and torque quite simply blow your mind away, in any gear, at any speed, on any road.
Conclusion? AMG are great guys, but that we already knew. Still, the GL 63 to me is a flawed proposition. At the same time as it is amazing how you can move this thing around, its sheer size means it is not made for it. As I told the dealer, if I could choose between my car with all the AMG goodies and a diesel engine that produces maybe 100 hp more than the current one, that to me would be a better suited engine to this car than the petrol version.
The E 63 S is a completely different story. I know a new E class is on the way, that the AMG Speedshift is not as quick as for example BMW’s double clutch, and that Comand is not the best GPS system on the market. Thing is, I couldn’t care less – and neither will you, because the moment you press that button and floor the pedal, all that goes far, far away. If there was ever one, perfect car, this quite objectively has to be it. Driving pleasure like a track car combined with space for all the family and four-wheel drive to take you to the mountains on the weekends – what could you possibly want more?!? I feel negotiations are about to start….
If ever there was a God, he is sitting right below here!