Driving at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, India’s only Formula 1 track, is serious business. You need to wear your balaclava, your globally certified helmet and sit through a five-minute lecture where officials explain through audio visual means the dos and don’ts of track driving. No, I am not here to participate in an F1 race but to try out the most powerful Mercedes-Benz E-Class of all time — the AMG E 63 S 4Matic+.
The look of the car has already bowled me over. The exterior is expressive, with a new radiator grille, coupé-style inset bonnet and an aerodynamically sound, wide and muscular front apron. The Mercedes logo, bold and arresting, sits in the centre of the grille. The design exemplifies finesse and sportiness.
Inside, the cockpit spells luxury. The car comes with automatic climate control system with three climate zones and three climate modes. This means the driver, the co-passenger and the passengers in the rear seats can regulate temperature and air distribution independent of one another. Then there is the Burmester high-end 3D surround sound system, which promises great sound experience.
So far so good. But the real test is yet to come. I thumb the starter and the elegant beast wakes up. First up is a warmup lap, to be followed by a hot lap. The light turns green and off I go. How do they make a car so responsive, so full of raw power, I wonder. I can hear the tyres scream and screech as I hit the straights and the corners of the track.
The car can achieve a top speed of 250 km per hour (electronically limited) and can do 300 km per hour with the AMG Driver’s package. The 4-litre V8 engine is mated to the AMG Speedshift MCT 9-speed sports transmission. It has an AMG Performance 4MATIC+ permanent all-wheel drive with variable torque distribution and drift mode.
The sound of the engine is tuned to match the various transmission modes of Dynamic Select. In the “Comfort” mode, the sound is somewhat sedate, but it revs up in the “Sport”, “Sport+” and “Race” modes. The car has a completely re-engineered AMG sport suspension based on the Air Body Control.
I floor the gas pedal for a good part of the hot lap. I hold on to the sporty steering wheel, turning it smartly at every corner. The coordination of the brakes and precise steering ensures that the car doesn’t stray from the track even for a moment. On the straights, I chance a glance at the speedometer. It reads 220 kmph.
But not for a second do I worry about the speed. The AMG E63 S 4MATIC + does not compromise on safety. It comes equipped with active brake assist, which is a radar-based driver assistance system that can help prevent accidents with vehicles ahead and with crossing pedestrians, or mitigate the consequences of accidents. It is a combination of proximity warning, collision warning, situation-dependent braking assistance and autonomous braking function. And then there are seven airbags.
The Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4MATIC + is a spirited car that can set the tracks of a racing circuit ablaze and can also behave perfectly while manoeuvering through city traffic. The car scores high on performance, ride, handling and luxury. In India its closest rival is the BMW M5 sedan but then the latter loses out in the power and torque game.