2020 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon review: Color me impressed

Insert caption that gets that awful Eiffel 65 song stuck in your head.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

You’re right, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon isn’t really any different than the car I reviewed a couple of years ago. And yeah, there’s a new one on the way. But I really like 603-horsepower wagons and I’d be an idiot to say no when Mercedes-Benz offers me one for a week. Besides, this specific test car has a few cool details that are worth a quick chat.

LikeAbsolute power without corruptionComfortable and functional interiorRobust infotainment tech suiteA whole new world of customization possibilities

Don’t LikeRide quality is pretty stiffReal-world economy is predictably poor

For starters, get a load of that color. It’s called Steel Blue and until now it was only available on Mercedes’ hard-workin’ Sprinter van. It’s not part of the AMG E63’s standard color palette, instead finding its way to wagon glory by way of the company’s Designo Manufaktur customization program.

Mercedes-Benz expanded its Designo Manufaktur special-order catalog following a massive increase in demand (like 200%) year over year, opening the door for buyers to choose from a bevy of personalization possibilities. You can pick anything from Mercedes’ current paint catalog, as well as any color it’s ever painted any car since the 1950s. This isn’t a fully paint-to-sample process, so Mercedes can’t color-match the deep red of the Denny’s booth where you contemplated all your bad decisions in high school, but considering maroons were really popular throughout the 1960s and 70s, you should be able to get close. Want your new E63 wagon done up in German taxi beige? No problem — and kudos, that’ll look awesome. Mercedes-Benz will even paint your car in a competing manufacturer’s color, assuming the other company isn’t a party pooper and says no.

Mercedes-Benz is still keeping the Designo program exclusive, though, so go ahead and stop clutching those pearls. The Manufaktur options are not published anywhere and there isn’t an official list of what’s available. That also means there isn’t a set price or flat rate for everything, either. In the case of this AMG E63, Steel Blue costs $7,500 and there’s an additional $3,000 charge for the Designo Manufaktur custom order.

This E63’s interior has a few fancy-pants options — namely, the Deep White contrast stitching, which looks great against the black Nappa leather. There’s an AMG Performance steering wheel with Dinamica suede sections, as well. It doesn’t seem like a big updo, but this interior treatment costs $7,780, though there’s also a $250 credit listed on the window sticker since the Manufaktur wheel isn’t heated for some reason.

The E63’s cabin is comfy and flush with tech.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

Speaking of the wheel, the 2020 E63 gets a new one. It has a slightly different design than before, including a dial on the right to spin through the various driving modes and buttons on the left for the active exhaust (turn this on) and stop/start (turn this off). Otherwise, the cabin is the same as it ever was. The seats are comfy; tall adults will fit just fine.

A pair of 12.3-inch displays sit atop the dash, the left one a reconfigurable gauge cluster, the right one the main infotainment display. The 2020 E63 is one year short of an upgrade to Mercedes’ new MBUX multimedia software, but the older COMAND tech is fine. If you’d rather just let your phone do all the work, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

And hey, it’s a wagon, so it’s useful as heck. There’s 35 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and if you fold them flat the load area expands to 64 cubes. Sure, an AMG GLE63 SUV will carry more of whatever you need to lug around, but what the E63 lacks in interior volume it more than makes up for in cool factor. That’s the law of the station wagon, friendos.

Stately estate.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

The real reason you buy the E63 is because it’s a firecracker, thanks to the hand-built, twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 under the hood. Just as before — and just as it will continue to be — the AMG E63 S Wagon makes 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque and sends its power to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The E63 gets Mercedes’ wake-the-neighbors Emotion Start function this year, meaning the engine is even louder when you fire it up. The formerly optional performance exhaust is standard now, too. Thank god.

Launch this big blue boi and it can hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. Muscle car metaphors are not unwarranted here; the AMG E63 shoots out of the gate with authority and the power delivery is unrelenting, all 627 lb-ft of torque coming on strong at 2,500 rpm. I’ll admit, it’s kind of hard not to drive this thing like a chotch all the time — that burbly V8 is a real instigator. And it’s not like going easy on the throttle will reward you with great fuel economy anyway, so why bother? If you’re on your best behavior, you’re looking at 16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, but this car is way too entertaining to drive timidly. If you aren’t going to stomp on it on the regular, just get the still-really-great E450 Wagon (which is also privy to the Designo Manufaktur program, by the way).

The air suspension has continuously variable damping, but the Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings are all pretty stiff. The 20-inch wheels don’t really help, nor do the 256/35 front and 295/30 rear Pirelli P-Zero summer tires, but I can forgive the occasionally harsh ride quality considering it’s an AMG and it sticks like hell in a corner. That said, the new Audi RS6 Avant is slightly better damped, even on its absurd 22-inch wheels.

I hate to see you go but I love to watch you leave.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

The fast RS6 is this Merc’s closest competitor and while the Audi is sweet-holy-Christmas good, I’ll give the E63 a slight edge in terms of overall ferocity. Where the Audi never lets you forget that Quattro all-wheel drive and rear-axle steering are helping it carve corners, the Mercedes is far more playful, for better or worse. You definitely have to work harder to keep the E63 hustling through tight hairpins, but the tradeoff is a bit more wiggle room — literally — when you want the AMG to cut loose. Don’t forget, the E63 comes standard with a Drift Mode that’ll send 100% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels for big-time smoky slides, if that’s your jam.

None of this comes cheap, of course; the 2020 AMG E63 S Wagon starts at $112,745 including $995 for destination. And cool as the Designo Manufaktur options are, they’re expensive: $18,030 on this test car. Once you add on the why-the-hell-isn’t-this-standard-on-my-six-figure-luxury-car Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, speed limit assist, lane-change assist, steering assist, etc.), adaptive LED lighting, heated armrests and exterior touches like blacked-out trim and carbon fiber details, you wind up at this example’s not-insignificant $161,355 as-tested price.

Then again, it’s not like buying a 603-hp rah-rah-rah! luxury-performance wagon is exactly a value play. Unless you’re talking resale, that is. These things always hold their value on the secondhand market and I imagine that’ll be especially true if you spec yours with a few chef’s-kiss Designo Manufaktur touches.


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