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Amusing yourself with a 550-hp station wagon: Motoramic TV

April 23, 2013

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Drive
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Drive

It’s always dangerous to engage in hyperbole, particularly when that hyperbole pertains to some sort of world title (witness the bickering between Bugatti and Guinness over the Veyron’s top-speed honors). But I feel confident proclaiming that the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG wagon rivals the Batman roller coaster as the world’s most effective way to impart G-forces on your children. That’s just a fact.

If you care to prove me wrong, find me another wagon that does 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. OK, that’s the number for the 2014 model, which has all-wheel-drive. But the rear-wheel-drive 2013 model still knocks off 60 mph in 4.2 seconds (and surely does better burnouts). Hold onto your Happy Meals, everybody!

The car that I drove was fitted with the $6,550 AMG Performance Package, which bumps the twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8’s output from 518 to 550 hp, and torque from 516 lb.-ft. to a monstrous 590 lb.-ft. Top speed, while still electronically limited, rises to 186 mph, the better to execute those school runs that happen to include long stretches of derestricted autobahn. While we’re gleefully checking options boxes, I’d also spring for the limited slip differential ($2,030) but might pause at the carbon ceramic brakes—$12,625. Aw, get those, too. Honey, it’s safety equipment. For the kids.

The base price, by the way, is $93,305. A Vista Cruiser it’s not. And the AMG foregoes the rear-facing third-row seats of the E350, as the beefed-up rear end displaces too much space beneath the floor. Life is often unfair.

To give the big Benz a shakedown, I took it up LA’s Mulholland Drive, home to some fantastic corners and, at any given time, a cross-section of some of the world’s most desirable machinery. When I pulled over to take a breather, it was hard to decide whether to gaze out at the city or back toward the road, where the ongoing parade included the likes of a Ferrari California, a Lotus or two and a veritable fleet of BMW M-cars. All serious performance cars and, with few exceptions, all of them slower than the innocuous station wagon parked at the turnout.

If you’ve got the money and the commendable good taste to buy a 550-hp wagon, the E63 AMG represents a rare reconciliation between family-car pragmatism and supercar thrust. Call it Six Flags Under the Hood.