Rear-wheel drive is to be killed off for the next AMG-fettled performance car, but tail-out hooning will still be possible
Next year’s Mercedes-AMG E63 performance car will feature 4Matic four-wheel drive as standard. It will also have a newly developed Drift Mode function as part of a series of features aimed at ensuring it retains the traditional rear-wheel drive handling characteristics of its predecessor, company chairman Tobias Moers has confirmed.
Set to make its world debut at the Detroit motor show in early January, the new Mercedes-AMG E63 will receive a four-wheel drive system as standard for the first time, consigning the rear-wheel drive layout used by earlier incarnations of Affalterbach’s iconic performance saloon to the history books.
The fully variable set-up, which is capable of apportioning up to 100 per cent of drive to the back wheels, has been developed to provide a distinctive rear-wheel drive bias in a move Moers hints will see the new E63 continue to offer power oversteer traits despite the move to four-wheel drive across the model range.
“It is four-wheel drive and we’re going to have a Drift Mode,” Moers revealed to Autocar at the unveiling of the new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster and GT C Roadster at the Paris motor show.
The 50-year-old AMG chairman confirmed a program included in the E63’s standard electronic stability control system, which provides added torque to the rearward bias of drive to create a slide, will be called Drift Mode.
The combination of 4Matic four-wheel drive and Drift Mode, which first made an appearance on the latest Ford Focus RS, is claimed to elevate the handling of the E63 to a new level.
“It’s faster on the (Nürburgring) Nordschleife than ever,” said Moers. “It’s going to be under 7min 50sec [when fitted with]the standard tyres.”
The previous E63 was offered with the choice of either rear- or four-wheel drive. Moers also hinted at least one version of the new E63 line-up will offer more than 600bhp.
“It’s going to be below and above 600bhp,” he said, indicating the newAudi RS6 and BMW M5 rival will follow the lead of other recent AMG models by offering two different states of tune for its new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine.
The outgoing second-generation E63 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine delivering 549bhp in standard tune and 577bhp in so-called S tune.
The increase in power provides the basis for what Moers claims will be a 0-62mph time of “three point something” seconds for the new four-door AMG model, which will see UK from the second quarter of 2017. “It’s the biggest step we’ve ever made with the E-class,” said Moers.
For context, the 552bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 powered Audi RS6, which also runs four-wheel drive as standard, boasts an official 0-62mph of 3.9sec. Despite the focus of performance, Moers rules out a R version of the E63: “The R is dedicated for GT. There is no intention to use it for the E63.”