By Derek Price
And this car is definitely something special.
It’s the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S Wagon, a monumentally expensive car that feels like it’s powered by Greek gods but — to oblivious people who don’t know any better — looks harmless and almost ordinary.
That’s because it’s a station wagon, perhaps the lest-fashionable style of car for sale today.
If you’re looking for a sleeper, something that can win every stoplight race without drawing unwanted attention, a station wagon with a supercar-like 603-horsepower engine is a perfect place to start.
This isn’t a car that will earn a fortune for Mercedes. I can’t imagine more than a handful of people ponying up $108,850 to buy one. That’s before you add options, like $1,200 carbon-fiber mirrors, nearly $9,000 ceramic brakes and $1,320 massaging seats.
Fortunately, my very favorite options are available at no charge. You can tell Mercedes to delete the gaudy badges on the liftgate and front fenders to make this the ultimate “I’m secure enough to not need attention” performance machine.
From the driver’s seat, there’s no denying what a remarkable vehicle this is. It accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, Mercedes claims, which plants it firmly in exotic-car territory.
A 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine delivers even more torque than it does horsepower — 627 pound-feet — while routing it all through a brilliantly designed transmission. Mercedes calls it “Multi Clutch Technology,” mixing a nine-speed sport transmission with a wet clutch to enable a tasty combination of lightning-fast shifts at the track and creamy smoothness in the neighborhood.
The sensations feel exotic, too. While AMG’s Dynamic Select system lets you choose a relatively sedate Comfort mode for around-town driving, the Sport+ mode unbridles its exhaust note, tightens its air-sprung suspension and adds heft to its steering to give it a more beastly, intimidating demeanor.
It roars. It snarls. It screams. It does everything a wagon shouldn’t.
Yet it also exists when, logically speaking, it shouldn’t. It’s completely irrational, which makes me love it all the more.
The only sensible thing about this AMG product is the spacious, practical, family-friendly layout, something that leaves plenty of room for road trips. Not only is it cavernous on the inside, with the kind of practicality and cargo space people usually associate with SUVs these days, but it coddles its lucky passengers in a cocoon of silence, softness and opulence.
Digital screens in front of the driver should be measured in acres, not inches. The screen leaves plenty of space to operate the seemingly endless array of features available in a modern Mercedes, from constantly changing mood lighting in the cabin to collecting racing data from track-day jaunts.
It’s both functional and beautiful. Mercedes’ digital designers are some of the best in the industry, delivering a carefully thought-out user experience that’s as stunning in appearance as it is in ease of use.
If anything, the E63 validates a long-held but apparently unpopular opinion of mine: station wagons are fantastic, and more people should drive them.
While crossovers and SUVs are the ubiquitous family haulers of contemporary America, wagons — while temporarily out of fashion, for reasons that escape me — are vastly better.
They have a lower center of gravity, making their handling inherently more planted and stable. They’re as practical and voluminous on the inside as most crossovers. They get better gas mileage, assuming you don’t fit them with AMG engines that sound like thunderstorms. And they look better, with a lower, sleeker, more timeless profile than the bulbous vehicles that are inexplicably popular in 2019.
If there is a more perfect vehicle for well-heeled contrarians, I can’t think of it.
Wheelbase: 115.7 in.
Length: 197.1 in.
Width: 81.3 in.
Height: 58 in.
Engine: 4.0-liter biturbo V8 (603 hp, 627 ft. lbs.)
Transmission: 9-speed multi-clutch automatic
Fuel economy: 16 city, 22 highway
Why buy it?
There’s nothing else quite like it, a station wagon that’s as fast as some exotic supercars. Its comical mixture of speed and sensibility is the best kind of crazy.