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2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon: First Drive Review

The uninitiated may see the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon as a garden-variety E-class wagon. But more discerning observers won’t be so easily fooled. Even though this vehicle seats five and has four doors with a hatch in back, the drilled brake rotors with red calipers (carbon ceramic brakes are optional) and large air intakes make it known that this car hauls more than just groceries. You see, the E 63 S Wagon is a different take on the family hauler.

Powered by a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine producing 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, a 9-speed AMG Speedshift multi-clutch transmission (MCT) sends that power to all four wheels via Mercedes-AMG’s 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system. This package of performance produces an intoxicating growl through the large quad exhaust outlets in back as the wagon rapidly accelerates to 60 miles per hour in just 3.4 seconds, and doesn’t stop until it is electronically restricted at 180 miles per hour. With that kind of adrenaline rush, you can skip the morning coffee and just drive to work.

The engine’s auto stop/start feature is rapid and smooth and can be easily disabled. However, with fuel economy estimates of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, owners may want to leave it in its default "On" setting.

Despite all the excitement this car can provide, it’s still a wagon, meaning it can carry up to 64 cu ft. of whatever you’d like — and in luxurious comfort, too. The interior can be optioned with supple Nappa leather coverings and fancy woods and metals that are just as impressive to touch as they are to look at.

I drove a Lunar Blue Metallic example through the streets of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, and being familiar with some of Mercedes-AMG’s current products, I wasn’t surprised by its demeanor. With Comfort mode engaged, the softer suspension, lighter steering feel and relaxed throttle inputs made my rainy hour-long commute to Bowling Green, Kentucky a breeze. Combine those with the isolated cabin, and the few road imperfections that I encountered were hardly perceptible. The Burmester stereo was sublime, too, with crisp clean highs and a powerful, tight bass. I truly could have driven this car all day. And thanks to Mercedes-AMG, I did.

You see, my destination in Bowling Green (yes, the Land of the Corvette) was NCM Motorsports Park, a 3.15-mile racetrack that consists of technical turns and two high-speed sections. As you might expect, I didn’t drive my blue commuter wagon on the track. What you likely didn’t expect was that I drove a similar matte gray example, with the sole difference being it was equipped with the optional carbon ceramic brakes.

With Comfort mode abandoned and Sport+ mode engaged (there’s a standard rear-drive-only Drift Mode, too), I experienced the true hidden purpose of this car and why, in my opinion, all families (including yours and mine) should own one. The acceleration was intoxicating, and the upgraded brakes, while on the softer side, were progressive and handled the rapid decelerations — time and time again — without a single protest. Even though the E 63 S wagon weighs almost 4,700 pounds, the firmer suspension setting did an admirable job of limiting lateral movements through the bends. There’s an electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential to help get the car’s massive power to the ground, yet with the correct combination of steering and throttle inputs, the rear of the car would happily rotate around midcorner in a controlled yet liberated way. And despite the lack of road feel that some electrically assisted steering systems may exhibit, the E 63 S provided enough feedback to let me know when the wagon’s Michelins were losing their grip. It was surreal to think that this was the same car I had driven from Nashville earlier that morning, and I found myself periodically checking my rearview mirror to make sure the cargo area was still there.

With a base price of $107,945, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon isn’t cheap, but its practical body style and heady performance arguably make it one of the best family cars money can buy. And if you need suggestions on how to explain its cost to your significant other, just tell them it’s like getting two cars in one … and that the kids will never be late for practice again.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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