Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG: Self-driving, supercar-eating, cyborg on wheels

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

For the uninitiated, however, it may take some getting used to. Accelerating towards a parked car and trusting the system to detect it and apply the brakes is very unnerving at first. But it really works and it takes a lot of the stress out of parking what is a pretty large car.

Then there's Traffic Sign Assist, which reads road signs and provides you with relevant warnings. We're talking here about picking up on signs indicating no entry or overtaking restrictions and delivering an audible warning if the driver attempts anything prohibited.

Collision avoidance

On top of that, there are at least five or six further features, including the ability to detect pedestrians stepping into the path of the car and apply the brakes.

If there's a car with more active safety and self-driving technology, frankly, we're not aware of it. This, simply, is as close you'll get to a self-driving car today.

The E63 AMG also gets the latest version of Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system. It's pretty much in the same ballpark as BMW's iDrive and Audi's MMI for overall features and functionality.

Like those two, it's controlled via wheel input rather than touchscreen and offers the usual suite of navigation and entertainment with a spot of arguably rather pointless web browsing.

By your COMAND

That said, the E Class's COMAND screen is rather mean in proportion. You get much larger screens in this class of car from BMW and Audi.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

Where things get a little more interesting is Drive Kit Plus. You can read all about that in our Mercedes A-Class review. But it's basically a secondary infotainment system that runs off Apple's iPhone.

Everything is rendered on the iPhone – menus, maps, apps, the lot – and piped onto the Mercedes COMAND screen. On the one hand it's a little odd, as it means you have two entirely separate navigation options.

On the other, it's bloody slick and adds support for various apps into the mix. We like it.

Behind the wheel

However, if we like Drive Kit Plus, what we love is the way the E63 AMG drives. Words don't do justice to the way this two tonne saloon (or optionally estate car) hooks up and fires down the road.

It's hilariously, impossibly fast. In all-wheel drive 4Matic format, it feels every bit as quick as those ridiculous three-point-something second acceleration times.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

It's also just plain good fun. The steering is very direct and fairly feelsome for this sort of car and the overall effect is a pointyness and ability to be driven on its nose that you really wouldn't think possible in such a large car. Chuckable? Absolutely.

But more than anything, what's remarkable about the E63 AMG is the way it fuses advanced, digital technology with a sense of analogue, accessible fun. The technology never gets in the way, never makes you feel disconnected. That's what separates the latest AMGs from more anodyne efforts from BMW M Power or Audi RS.

4Matic not for us

There is a snag, however. The UK version is only available in rear-wheel drive form. It's a function of the location of the steering rack on RHD cars and in turn the front driveshafts on the 4Matic kit.

Now, the regular rear-wheel drive version is hugely fun. Switch off the traction control and it will oversteer everywhere, all the time, if that's what you want.

Indeed, via a bank of switches on the centre console, you can trim everything from suspension firmness to throttle response to suit your every whim.

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

What it lacks, however, is the mind bending grip and capability of the 4Matic. Think of the 4Matic as a kind of four-door Nissan GT-R and you'll get an idea of what it's like to drive. It just hooks up and goes, piling on massive speed in instants.

Which you prefer – smokey, leery oversteer or PlayStation-style bending of the laws of physics - is a very subjective choice. But in the UK, we only get the over steery option.

With that one caveat in mind, the E63 AMG is still the best car in its class and by some margin. It's the most fun to drive. It has the most advanced technology. And with its new LED-infused face, it might just be the best looking.

There's certainly little on the road today that shouts "outta my way" louder than an E63 AMG with its LEDs on full reheat filling up your rear mirrors.

Oh, and for the record, you can order an E63 AMG from your Mercedes dealer today. Prices start at a piffling £74,920.