2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Click image to enlarge

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2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG

Stuttgart, Germany – As I was accelerating towards 250 km/h on the autobahn last week in the new Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, I wondered what would happen when I reached its 250 km/h electronic speed limiter. Would it sound an alarm? Would the engine power be cut off abruptly or smoothly? Would I feel a loss of control? Would I feel cheated?

Unfortunately, I never found out: just as I reached 240 km/h, a “slow-moving” Opel appeared in front of me doing about 180 km/h – and took his time getting out of my way. Yes, even the autobahn has its left-lane bandits!

Germany’s high-speed freeways are definitely more crowded these days – if you want to go really fast, you have to pick the right time of day – or if you’re really brave and have good headlights – go in the middle of the night.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Click image to enlarge

My fearless passenger and co-driver, Rob Rothwell, managed to snap a shot of the E63’s speedometer at 228 km/h with the tachometer hovering around 4,300 r.p.m. (I was too scared to take my eyes off the road to read the speedometer). It’s clear that with a redline of 7,200 r.p.m., the E63’s actual top speed would be well over 250 km/h. In fact, in Germany, AMG offers an optional “Driver’s Package” on the new 2010 E63 with a 300 km/h speed limiter, suggesting that the top speed is over 300 km/h! The package includes a mandatory high-speed driver training course at the AMG Driving Academy in Germany. Das ist gut!

You could argue, with some conviction, that these numbers are meaningless (not to mention illegal) in Canada. But you could also argue that any mid-size sedan capable of travelling, accelerating, and braking at autobahn speeds will offer vastly superior handling, braking, and stability at legal North American highway speeds. And that the reason German performance sedans have such a good reputation for vehicle dynamics, high speed stability, and safety is the absence of speed limits on (portions of) Germany’s autobahns.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG
2010 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Still, in a world now focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, excessive fuel consumption, and harmful exhaust emissions, a 518 horsepower mid-size sedan with a 6.2-litre V8 engine, a zero to 100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds, and average (NEDC-spec) fuel economy of 12.6 L/100 km (22 mpg Imperial) isn’t exactly a poster child for social responsibility.

Aware of this, Mercedes-Benz AMG spokespersons at the E63’s introduction made a special effort to emphasize that the new 2010 E63 AMG offers 12% better fuel economy than the previous model which had basically the same engine, and is the most fuel-efficient 500+hp sedan in its class. The gains in fuel efficiency were made possible by new cylinder wall coatings that reduce piston friction, more accurate delivery of fuel, and a revised alternator. As well, improved aerodynamics and a new seven-speed wet clutch transmission with lower rotational inertia than the previous 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic contribute to the improved fuel economy.

But with a suggested retail price expected to be in the $120,000 range (the 2009 E63 MSRP was $121,100), fuel economy is not likely to be a big concern for E63 buyers. And you could argue that with such a limited number of AMG models on the road, their contribution to global warming will be marginal. But I wouldn’t bother trying to convince David Suzuki of this.

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