2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S first drive: Brutal but so much fun

There was a niggling doubt, at first. A worrying kernel of uncertainty about this new, four-wheel drive, 4.0-litre V8, bi-turbo E63. You see, the E63 has always balanced easy everyday manners with a face-bending turn of pace, wonderfully entertaining rear-wheel drive handling and the best, most evocative exhaust note of any fast executive.

A few years back we lost the naturally aspirated 6.2 V8, and now we’ve lost the rear-wheel drive layout.

But hey, this is progress, and all of these changes are made in response to what customers and government guidelines dictate. That, we all understand. Ultimately, with 603bhp and a gut-wrenching 627lb ft of torque, it’s faster yet more usable, which is great. But is it still as fun as its predecessors? 

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S saloon
2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 S saloon

First impressions

It looks great. There’s no doubting that. All blistered wheel arches and posh purposefulness, but still just the right side of subtle. It also looks fantastic inside, with deep, comfortable and hugely adjustable seats, impressive visibility all-round and a lovely, textural interior that is particularly impressive for its panoramic screen that incorporates the driver's binnacle as well as the central multimedia screen. 

For all that, it’s actually not the easiest interface to use because you can get a bit bogged down in control methods – which include a touchpad, a rotary controller, voice control and steering wheel buttons. But with familiarity you can find a method of control that suits you (we favour the rotary con...