The über-wagon is critically acclaimed, by armchair critics across the Internet, as being one of the unicorns of the modern day. Looking around any North American parking lot, it’s evident that we are now dominated by a sea of bland crossovers that look largely the same. Enter the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon, a high-horsepower estate car that boasts sharp new styling, a snazzy interior, and most importantly, the heart of a supercar. We got behind the wheel for a week to see if the E 63 Wagon is everything enthusiasts have made it out to be.
2021 marks a mid-cycle refresh for the W213 E-Class, a car we consider to be at the top of the midsize luxury segment. Coincidentally its main rival, the BMW 5-series also has been updated this year. The E 63 gets the Panamericana grille that is now a Mercedes signature design cue, and the rest of the car gets a few subtle touches that tidy it up nicely. The pre-facelift W213 was still a looker, if not a bit on the anonymous side. The LED lighting all around is stunning both in appearance and lighting quality, and the styling overall is just perfect in our eyes.
But of course, design has very little to do with the E 63 S Wagon’s appeal. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that lives under the hood is the real reason why you’ve clicked on this road test. It outputs 603 horsepower at 6,500RPM, and the 627 lb-ft. of torque can make the earth rotate in the other direction. Mercedes-Benz claims that this wagon can hit 100km/h from a standstill in just 3.5 seconds, and we believe it. Set up all of the performance variables into their most aggressive settings and the E 63 transforms into the most hardcore of performance machines.
Sure, it may not be as lightweight as a Lotus, but the ability to go from being a serene highway cruiser that can bomb from one city to the next with immense poise, to a corner-carving track monster is impressive in its own light. The aggressive factory performance tires are a bit too firm and loud for everyday street use, but this complaint is minor. The nine-speed automatic transmission is fairly quick in operation, but there is a notable lag on occasion when commanding a specific gear for fast passes.
Mercedes-AMG equips the E 63 with adaptive dampers as standard fare, but it must be mentioned that even in the “Comfort” setting, the AMG model is substantially harsher than say, an E 350. The narrow tire sidewalls and aggressive damping are both contributors to this, and for the most part it’s manageable, but those looking for S-Class levels of refinement for their commute may find Toronto’s roads too punishing. An “Individual” drive mode can configure things like suspension, exhaust note, engine behaviour, and more for added personalization.
Aside from the power, this station wagon has very impressive steering. There is a significant amount of actual feel coming through the wheel into the driver’s fingertips, something that the current 5-series lacks. There is impressively sharp turn-in on command, and the W213 E-Class’ chassis is very communicative. Massive brakes also haul this 4,700-pound goliath to a stop on a dime, with sharp bite and adequate pedal feel.
The reason many admire the E 63 Wagon, aside from bragging rights, is cargo capacity. With the rear seats in place, the rocketship has 991-liters of space in the rear. Fold these down and this number nearly doubles to 1,812-liters. While a rear-facing third row can still be had in the E-Class Wagon and All-Terrain models, the AMG version is sadly exempt from this. It would definitely be a neat conversation point to have this option here, though we suspect a high amount of motion sickness from the unfortunate souls facing rearward while this thing hustles around a canyon road.
From a visual standpoint, the E-Class has a breathtakingly gorgeous interior. This AMG model arrived to us spec’d with a lovely combination of leather, Alcantara, and carbon fiber, with yellow accent stitching. It’s all just stunning to look at, and quality is impressive too, with the exception of some panels with a tendency to creak when pressed on. The Burmester surround sound system is one of the best in the business, though I’m not quite sure why you’d want to take away from the throaty performance exhaust that’s standard fare.
But aside from that, the twin 12.3-inch displays that control the MBUX infotainment interface are for the most part a nightmare to use. Using the touchscreen, it’s manageable, but a touchpad on the console is new to the E-Class this year, and a carryover from the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. This touchpad replaces the rotary controller and is sensitive to even a USB-C cable wire dragging over it. Simple commands like changing radio stations are tedious to execute, and enabling the brilliant massaging seats requires more than a minute of distraction.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto still require a wired connection, and Mercedes has moved away from standard USB ports to exclusively USB-C. CarPlay only takes up part of the screen, leaving the rest of the wonderful-looking display as blank space, and the steering wheel itself now has a wide variety of touch controls. Without physical buttons or rotary dials it’s difficult to remember what goes where, and I accidentally disconnected phone calls multiple times due to the “End” button being a touch-sensitive piece on the wheel. It’s also prone to fingerprints, so there’s that.
Mercedes prices the E 63 S 4MATIC+ Wagon from $127,900, a step up from the E 450 All-Terrain’s $80,900. A $7,700 Premium Package adds everything from ventilated front seats with massage, to a 360-degree camera, soft-close doors, heated armrests and rear seats, heads-up display, and more. AMG Carbon Fibre interior accents are an extra $2,500, and bring the total up to $139,300. Those really wanting every bit of available performance can opt for a $13,750 set of carbon ceramic brakes, but beware of the upkeep costs on these.
For the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon, which has run alone in its class for many years now in North America, a rival has just entered the ring. Audi’s RS6 Avant has 591 horsepower and similar pricing, with a very different aesthetic. The E 63 still offers earth-shattering driving dynamics and exquisite precision, while still packing most of the unparalleled comfort that attracts drivers to the E-Class in the first place. The level of exclusivity is worth the price point, because this really is a dream car that can be used by enthusiasts with family needs.