You remember that guy in high school that somehow ended up with his grandparent’s station wagon? And how he would swear up and down that it was “cool.” And people would point and laugh, or perhaps his friends would try and point out that “wagons just aren’t cool, man.” There is no way a Chevy Impala wagon or Ford Country Squire, with those genuine plastic fake wood grain walnut veneer side panels, is Right or Cool. I mean, you could have Miles Davis driving one with Bob Marley sitting in the passenger seat rolling up spliffs the size of a dachshund puppy with Coltrane jamming on the megawatt stereo, and even that wouldn’t make a wagon cool.
Try as you might to fix it up – mags and tires, a loud exhaust, fiddling with the engine – Chevy Impala wagons or Ford Country Squires are never going to be as cool as the JV quarterback’s El Camino or the prom king’s Z28. But suppose they were? Suppose someone like, oh, Mercedes-Benz let their skunkworks crew at AMG loose on an E-Class wagon that a well-to-do Dortmund hausfrau would drive? Would that be cool? Let me just put it this way: It would be so cool, you could keep a side of beef in it for a week.
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon is as practical as a wagon can be. Tons of modern connectivity and high-tech goodies, 35 cubic feet of trunk space in the way back, a 40:20:40 split rear seat, and a price tag of $106,950 (gasp!). But this thing could haul you and the fam on a Griswold-style vacation, so who cares? This thing can haul your butt from zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and max out at 180 mph. The 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon can even lap the Nürburgring in 7:45.19
So bear with me as we put aside all that practicality, connectivity, comfort, convenience and such to dwell ‘neath the hood for a nice long while, and gaze lovingly at that monster of an engine. It’s a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 bi-turbo plant, with twin-scroll turbos nestled inside the V, known in Mercedes-Benz speak as “hot inside V.” Said mill puts out 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft. of torque. They say the “AMG V8 sound might not be family-friendly,” and all I could think was “in your family maybe.”
And the rest of the drivetrain is just as impressive.
The engine is coupled to a AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9-speed transmission, using a wet clutch in place of a torque converter; from there it’s the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system that puts power to der Bahn through all four tires. The 4MATIC+ system has fully-variable torque distribution between the front and rear axles. And, given the digital nannies between your right foot and the pavement, all you have to do is mash the loud pedal and this thing Goes with a capital “G” under all road conditions: dry, wet, or snow-covered. Mercedes-Benz says the transition from rear-wheel to all-wheel drive and back again is seamless. The front to rear split is controlled by an electromechanically regulated coupling, connecting the permanently-driven rear axle variably to the front axle, so you can go from traction-oriented all-wheel drive to pure rear-wheel drive.
Mercedes-Benz says without a hint of irony: “It is still possible to drift thanks to fully variable torque distribution.” Mercedes-Benz, the most buttoned-down and conservative of the automakers, from a country not exactly known for producing people like Flavor-Flav, makes a car that can drift on purpose. Indeed there is a Drift mode waiting for you at the touch of (several) buttons.
Braking & Suspension Tech
The ride is governed by an all-new AMG multi-chamber air suspension, set up with continuously variable damping for remarkably high levels of camber stability and steering precision. The air spring stiffness can be adjusted over a wide range to improve comfort and handling, while reducing roll and pitching. Adaptive damping comes in three selectable modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+.
The rear differential is an electronically controlled limited-slip deal for more bite out of curves. You can also select from five AMG programs: Comfort, Sport, Sport +, RACE, and Individual to monkey with essential parameters like engine response, transmission, suspension, steering, stability control, and various all-wheel-drive settings.
Wanna stop? The 2018 Mercedes AMG E63 S Wagon whoas up with internally ventilated and perforated 15.4-inch compound front brake discs, with six-piston fixed calipers. The rear uses 14.2-inch discs and single-piston floating calipers. The AMG Carbon Ceramic Composite Braking System is optional and expensive, but it will stop you hard enough to detach a retina. In other words, it’s worth every penny.
So is the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S Wagon cool? You bet it’s cool, and no Miles Davis or Bob Marley with dachshund-puppy-sized spliffs needed. Plus, the interior looks like a Bond villain’s lair. I’ll still keep the Coltrane though.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.