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2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon first drive review

In this SUV-crazy era, we don’t see enough bankers’ hot rods anymore, but the mad scientists at AMG have a machine to feed the few who desire one.

The 603-horsepower 2018 Mercedes-Benz E63 S sedan is bonkers in the best possible way, but it has a sibling that is even stranger while being more practical?

The Mercedes-AMG E 63 S is new for 2018, and we’ve driven the sedan in various places, from the streets and track in Portugal to the ice on Manitoba, Canada’s Lake Winnipeg, but the E63 S wagon had thus far escaped us. Mercedes-AMG recently remedied that by putting us behind the wheel of the longroof on the sprawling roads in and around Nashville, and for good measure, adding time on the track at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Coffee and bagel runs will be quick with all four wheels clawing at the pavement for a 0-60 sprint of just 3.4 seconds, a mere 0.1 second slower than the sedan. All that power is managed through a 9-speed automatic transmission with a wet-plate clutch standing in for a torque converter.

The twin-turbo V-8 sounds mean?

On cold start, the twin-turbo V-8 sounds mean, and things only amplify from there with 7,000 rpm redline shifts firing angry barks through the quad exhaust tips. Full throttle quickly re-sorts your insides as the German missile lunges forward regardless of the current speed.

Driving the E63 S wagon on the street is an exercise of restraint, as the speedometer can easily crest 100 mph in a blink. While such speeds would normally pose an issue when one happens upon a friendly police officer, the wagon body body style makes this German bruiser nearly invisible. And if you spot Smokey first, the 15.4-inch brake discs, clamped down upon by 6-piston front calipers, haul the car back to legal speeds before he can think to point his radar at that boring wagon.

On the track, the longroof delivers 99 percent of the sedan’s performance. It’s 154 pounds heavier, so that accounts for the slightly slower acceleration. The extra weight is planted firmly in the back, and it translates into a bit more body roll, and a greater willingness to go sideways when pushed hard around a corner. In the wagon, it’s important to make sure the tail doesn’t kick out too far or too often if you are chasing lap times. But then again, who chases lap times in a wagon?

Track or street, the air suspension provides a firm, yet never overly harsh ride, even over broken pavement around Nashville. The steering feels natural and direct, with good feedback from the road. The new 2018 BMW M5 provides a bit more feel through its steering wheel on a racetrack, but that car is far likelier to end up on a track.

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