Most times, a car that is special lets everyone know about itself. Lots of visual excitement to announce exclusivity, a high price tag, and often both of those things.
But occasionally, a very special, very rare production car just sort of whispers its credentials. No over-the-top graphics, no indication at all that it’s only for the few who really seek it out and then cough up its high asking price.
Such is the case with the most spectacularly high performance station wagon you can buy today: The Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon. It’s got tons of horsepower, a somewhat staggering price tag, and is produced in numbers that make exotic super cars look like mainstream sedans.
But to see it on the road, you’d hardly notice it, especially in a muted color like silver. Sure, you can spot the “AMG” badge on the liftgate, the “V8 Biturbo” ones on the front fenders, the big quad exhaust tips out back, or the glistening red brake calipers peeking out from behind the handsome 19” wheels. But those are really the only visual clues.
Officially, this car is a “special order” model, meaning that typically a Mercedes-Benz dealer won’t stock them. Customers who seek out a wagon like this would have to have placed an order. (And right now, there’s a change-over to the updated and slightly restyled 2014 E-Class going on, so you can’t even do that at the moment.)
Production numbers are in the hundreds – worldwide. It stands to reason that there are probably very few people who need a station wagon that carries a base price of $92,000 and can out-accelerate most cars on the road.
But, it’s actually fairly easy to produce this car, once someone asks. Mechanically, the wagon version is identical to the E63 AMG sedan, save for the way the exhaust system is routed and a revised rear suspension that includes automatically adjusting air springs. (Obviously, a station wagon is likely to be loaded up at times, and you can even get this one with the rear-facing third row seat, just like the regular E-Class Wagon.)
So, you plunk down your money and wait for your E63 AMG Wagon. When it arrives, you’ll be treated to a twin-turbo 5.5 liter V8 engine that belches out 518 horsepower through a special 7-speed automatic transmission. If you’d like more power, choose the AMG Performance Package option, which tweaks the power output to 550 and raises the top speed to 186 mph.
Yes, you can buy a station wagon that will do 186 (somewhere anyway – not anywhere that I drive) yet will still be useful at runs to Home Depot or Costco for carrying large purchases. Stop laughing. Somewhere out there, someone’s driving one of these to a big box store. I think.
As part of the AMG overhaul, you also get racetrack levels of handling and braking. The huge brake discs visible behind the big wheels tell the tale of eyeball-popping stopping power. And while this hot wagon can hustle its way around a race track with the best sports cars, the ride doesn’t beat you up on regular city streets.
The interior features a few AMG goodies, specifically a thick steering wheel covered in a suede-like material called Alcantara. Deep bucket seats cradle front occupants and are adjustable nearly every way possible. And just to make sure you get the message while driving, the AMG logo is printed onto the speedometer.
By the time that AMG Performance Package ($6550) and a few other options are added on, the sticker price on this bad boy can top $100,000. Looking for a budget alternative? Try Cadillac’s CTS-V Sport Wagon. It’s also produced in limited numbers, also produces big horsepower (actually 556, if you’re keeping score), and can also tear up a twisty road. But it starts at around $65,000. Such a deal!
For many, though, only a Mercedes-Benz AMG will do. In fact, it’s likely that the select few who will buy this AMG wagon have other Mercedes AMG models in their garage. And if you see a station wagon with a Mercedes three-pointed star on the front and huge exhaust pipes in the back, know that you’ve seen a car rarer than most Ferraris.
I’ll see you down the road.
Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7 and can be heard on “The Car Show” Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM. E-mail Dave at TVCarz @ pacbell.net Twitter: @dave_kunz, Facebook: ABC7Dave