2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon Review: Family Fortune

  • Astonishing performance and sound from biturbo V8
  • Handling belies the size and weight
  • Comfort mode turns it into a Mercedes limo
  • Wagons are sexy
  • Very expensive
  • Infotainment can be complicated to use

Look, I have already sung the praises of wagons. I have waxed about their practicality; shook my fist at the sky and howled about their aesthetic superiority. I have made it abundantly clear that I am on Team Wagon, and so the fact that the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon has an early advantage with me should come as little surprise.

All the same, AMG clearly knows not everybody feels the same way, and as such this particular wagon spares little in its quest to upend the naysayers. Your $112,450 (plus $1,050 destination) gets you a handcrafted 4.0-liter V8 biturbo engine with 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, AMG's fettled 9-speed transmission, performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, and sports air suspension.

$3,950 adds the glorious Brilliant Blue Magno paint, a stunning matte finish which will have you suspiciously glaring at every bird or overhanging tree. $8,950 swaps the standard high-performance composite brakes for carbon-ceramic versions; $2,000 adds the 20-inch forged cross-spoke wheels. $1,750 throws on lashings of exterior carbon fiber, $900 adds more advanced LED lights, $750 swaps the chrome for gloss-black trim pieces, and $450 dark-tints the grille.

It is a whole lot to spend – and that's before things like the $1,950 Driver Assistance Package, $1,100 head-up display, and $1,100 Acoustic Comfort Package. By the time Mercedes-AMG was done, this particular E 63 S Wagon clocked in at $137,850.

It's overwhelming but alluring, and in the AMG's defense it feels like a near-$140k car. You could say the same for the experience behind the wheel.

0-60 mph comes in 3.4 seconds, Mercedes says, and that's legitimately impressive. You'd need an Autobahn and nerves of steel to reach the upper limits of the E 63 S' power. Top speed is an electronically restrained 180 mph. On American roads, with our pesky speed restrictions, a point-and-squirt is generally enough to get you to the stage where losing your license could be a real danger.

AMG's all-wheel drive system is a marvel, and grip is never in question. The wagon can shift power between the left and right rear wheels, as well as between the front and rear, maximizing traction and helping keep that rear end from swinging out in the turns. Were you to find a track – which I suspect few E 63 S owners will go to the hassle of doing, more's the pity – there's a drift mode which leaves the wagon rear-wheel drive only, for all manner of tail-wagging entertainment.

It's a big car, and a relatively heavy one, but a low center of gravity and clever dampers oust any sign of body roll. The steering is beautifully weighted, and though the brakes are prodigious they're not grabby (or squeaky) with it. AMG's drive modes and settings are multitudinous, and if you want you can individually adjust each subsection. Or, as I did, you simply twist the little screen-toting mode dial on the steering wheel around to notch between Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Race.

At the Comfort end of that scale, things are measured if not exactly placid. As with any E-Class it can waft along like a limo, the air suspension tuned for cosseting. There's no real restraint on the power, though, so more than a graze of your right foot and things surge forward like a bolting rhino.

Step up through the more aggressive modes, meanwhile, and the E 63 S' true spirit emerges. It is, quite simply, a sports car in family cosplay.

To give it its due, the AMG commits to that masquerade. Along with the spacious cabin there's a long list of safety tech. Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot assistance, 360-degree camas, and active parking assist are all standard. The Driver Assistance Package adds adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping and auto lane-change, active brake assist with cross-traffic, eves steering assist, active lane keeping and blind spot, assist, route-based speed adaptation, rear-end collision protection, and more.

Much in the same way, the tech is fulsome. Twin 12.3-inch displays with Mercedes' latest MBUX infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Burmester Surround Sound system, and a panoramic roof are all standard. Dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, and power heated and ventilated front seats are standard, too. My only complaint is Mercedes' new steering wheel with its capacitive buttons, which I find a little more finicky to control than the old version.

Where things get interesting are when you start to weigh practicality against the performance. There's seating for five, of course, and 35 cu-ft in the spacious, easily-loaded trunk. Drop the rear seats and that expands to 64 cu-ft.; you can have roof-rails, too, if you want them.

Even fuel economy can be a little more restrained than you might expect. The E 63 S will do 16 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg combined on the EPA's test cycle. How close you come to those numbers, of course, depends entirely on how much you succumb to that loud pedal.

2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon Verdict

In many ways, the E 63 S Wagon feels like the car AMG made to settle the "what would you choose if you had to live with just one car for the rest of your life?" question. The performance of a true sports car, with the practicality of a family hauler, and the comfort of a limousine. Little comes close to its ability to sit at the center of that seriously expansive Venn diagram.

If you don't find yourself overlapping, that may be because you lack the six-figure budget, or simply that the allure of the wagon is lost on you. Don't worry, Mercedes-AMG already knows it's fighting in a niche here, and frankly it means those lucky souls who do succumb to the 2021 E 63 S Wagon's charms can add exclusivity to its long list of talents.