I recently had the chance to drive a 577-horsepower station wagon. I think you would agree that chances like these aren't to be turned away. Instead, you accept them head-on, with full force, assuming that someone else is paying for gas.
My opportunity to drive the 2014 Mercedes E63 AMG station wagon came from the Mercedes-Benz press office, a kind group of individuals who must be getting pretty desperate for coverage if they're giving this thing to me. "Isn't there some mommy blogger we could put in the AMG wagon?" is how I imagine the conversation went. "No? Fine. Then give it to that guy over at Jalopnik. Dan something."
Well, Dan something is here, reporting for duty.
Actually, I'm glad I had the opportunity to drive the E63 AMG wagon, because I have an interesting perspective on this whole fast wagon thing. You see, I'm now the only person on earth who has owned a last-generation E63 AMG wagon, owned a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V wagon and, now, driven the new E63 AMG wagon. My commentary on this subject will therefore be highly useful to everyone searching for an expensive high-performance wagon, a group that numbers roughly 14 individuals, or 15 once tax refunds are mailed out.
But I've covered a lot of E63 AMG wagon ins and outs in the video below, or above, or wherever Kinja decides to put it. And Travis already wrote a review of this car back in January. (This very same car. I sat in the very same seat where Travis sat. It smelled.)
So rather than do a full writeup, I've decided to devote this column to a comparison between the E63 AMG wagon and the other hot wagons I've owned. If you're hungry for more E63 AMG wagon action, you can always follow me on Twitter, where I've been posting dozens of pictures of this car all week, sort of like a new parent with Facebook. ("LOOK! THE E63 AMG WAGON PEED ITSELF!") Anyway, on to the comparisons:
Old E63 AMG Wagon vs. New E63 AMG Wagon
Because I'm an automotive journalist, I'm required by one of the many Rules of Automotive Journalism to say that the new Whatever is far superior to the old Whatever. It doesn't matter if the old Whatever was perfect: the new Whatever is much better, as the automaker clearly demonstrated to me at a press event with lots of free food.
Therefore, it's very important that you understand the new E63 AMG wagon is a far superior vehicle to the old E63 AMG wagon. Why is it better, you ask? Power? Speed? Handling? No. None of those. It's because the new E63 AMG wagon has a warranty. My 2007 E63 AMG wagon didn't have a warranty, and every day I owned it was like living through The Blitz: you knew something was going to happen, but you had no idea when it would hit, or how bad it would be, or whether you would keep your hearing.
Of course, the new E63 AMG wagon has its own financial problem: depreciation. This is largely because there are only about 27 people who actually want one of these, and they can all afford to buy it new. So what happens is, you buy it new, and the next day it's worth approximately as much as a computer mouse. And then once the warranty runs out, it's worth as much as an actual mouse, which is to say nothing, and car shoppers run away whenever they see it.
Oh, what's that? You want to know about how the cars drive? Well here's the deal: they actually drive quite comparably. The new one is definitely faster, owing to the 70-horsepower boost, the all-wheel drive, and the faster-shifting transmission. And it grips better, thanks to larger tires and, again, all-wheel drive.
But we're still dealing with two V8-powered Mercedes station wagons made less than a decade apart. It's not like one of them is going to feel like a Porsche 911, while the other slogs around corners like a Buick Somerset. The new one sounds much better, but they're both insanely fast, very front-heavy, and absolutely horrible on fuel. Really horrible. These cars are the Bellagio fountains of fuel consumption.
But the point is that if you're still holding on to an old E63 AMG wagon, things haven't moved along too much from your car. Have no fear. Except for repair bills.
E63 AMG Wagon vs. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Back when I owned my CTS-V Wagon, I did a comparison between that car versus my old E63 AMG wagon, which was a pretty neat trick considering I had sold the E63 AMG wagon nine months earlier. In the last line of the comparison, I said the following: the Cadillac feels like a sports car that was transformed into a station wagon. The Mercedes feels like a station wagon that was transformed into a sports car. Man, I used to be so eloquent.
But because of its increased power, its better grip, and its improved handling, the new E63 AMG wagon no longer feels like a wagon first and a sports car second. It now feels like a boosted hot rod first, and occasionally you still remember that it's a station wagon when you look in the mirror and see your children splattered against the tailgate glass.
So is the new E63 AMG Wagon better than the CTS-V Wagon? Absolutely. Acceleration is now on par, handling is getting there, and the noise… ohhhhh, the noise. The AMG can also carry far more stuff than the Cadillac, as demonstrated in the video. And the latest E63 AMG wagon boasts a hilariously fuzzy steering wheel, which is an area where the Mercedes suffered severe demerits last time.
So what's the catch? Money, of course. A new CTS-V Wagon costs something like $75,000, or roughly $69,000 at a desperate dealership on the last day of the month. Whereas the MSRP of the E63 AMG wagon I drove was… any guesses? … That's right: $120,000. For that money, you could get a CTS-V Wagon, a couple Miatas, and a Ford Focus or two. And you'd still have enough money left over to buy this telephoto lens that looks like a military-grade rocket launcher.
And The Winner Is…
After spending a week behind the wheel of the E63 AMG wagon, I've come away with one simple truth: the E63 AMG wagon is the best performance wagon in existence.
But then someone told me that the CTS-V Wagon has officially been cancelled for the 2014 model year, which means I also discovered another simple truth: the E63 AMG wagon is the worst performance wagon in existence.
In fact, for those of you who insist on buying a new car, the E63 AMG wagon is the only performance wagon in existence. It is, therefore, in a league of its own, which means it doesn't really matter what I say: if you really want this car, you're going to buy it anyway. To the handful of people who do so ever year, I say good luck. And hold on.
@DougDeMurois the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.