This is a more than usually comprehensive mid-life refresh for the best and most likeable ultra-high-performance estate – which is available with saloon bodywork, too. Outside there are minor visual changes, designed as much to improve aero efficiency as the car’s look. Inside comes the latest MBUK operating system where rotary dials and buttons largely give way to touch-sensitive haptic pads.
It may be I’m an incompetent operator but the cabin controls are now more difficult to use. And the big central wheel from which almost all systems could be governed has now been replaced by a touchpad and I didn’t like that either. I can see such measures make for a more glossy cabin and I’ll bet it’s cheaper to make, but form should follow function in any Benz and here, bluntly, it doesn’t.
Just as well then that, to drive, it remains so rewarding. A two-tonne wagon has no business handling this well. The way you can sit there, swaddled in such comfort guiding it effortlessly from apex to apex with little more than a flexing of the wrists is something to behold. And that 603bhp V8 is still as good as this kind of engine can be.
We know the V8 will not appear in the next generation of fast C-Class, so let’s hope its big brother avoids that fate. An E63 without a V8 might be faster and more economical, but it wouldn’t be the same car any more.
2021 Mercedes-AMG E63S Estate statistics
- Price £100,380
- Engine 4 litres, 8 cylinders, turbocharged, petrol
- Power 603bhp at 5750rpm
- Weight 1995kg
- Power to weight 302bhp per tonne
- Transmission Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
- 0-60mph 3.5sec
- Top speed 180mph (limited)
- Economy 23.7mpg
- CO₂ 271g/km
- Verdict Great engine, unusable cabin