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Used and approved? We spend half a year in a second-hand Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate

CAR logo CAR 08/05/2017 CARMagazine

Used and approved? We spend half a year in a secondhand Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate: Used and approved? We spend half a year in a second-hand Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate

Used and approved? We spend half a year in a second-hand Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate
© Bauer Media 2017

► Used Mercedes E63 AMG Estate review

► Huge savings by picking last-gen E63

► We spend half a year in a secondhand AMG

Month 7 running a used Mercedes-AMG E63: long-term test review verdict

‘I tend not to spend much time looking back,’ AMG’s boss Tobias Moers told me at the launch of the new E63 when I mentioned our long-term previous-shape E63. But we’d advise you to do the exact opposite, because our bargain Benz, a proper wünderwagon that costs no more than a dull new diesel, has been wrenched from our grasp and is looking for a new home.

I took delivery of the E63 almost as soon as I’d relocated from CAR’s base in the East Midlands to Devon in the south west, and immediately threw it into some serious motorway work ferrying me to airports and photo shoots. Having racked up only 8100 miles in its first year, the E63’s odo was showing 22,000 just six months later.

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Admittedly there were times on those long 2am drives down a deserted M5 when a new E’s lane-keeping assistance would have been welcome. Or when I jumped back into our car’s monolithic cabin after a stint in the new one and was reminded how far Mercedes styling has come.

But our AMG wasn’t totally devoid of gadgety kit. It parked by itself, if not by smartphone; many have adaptive cruise, though this one didn’t (which is my personal preference); and the Harman Kardon stereo was excellent. I’m a simple man. I don’t need much more than that. Well, that and 550bhp.

There was something else, though, an appealing simplicity to the car, something so warming about hearing the old-fashioned clunk when I tugged the under-dash handle to release the parking brake, rather than hearing a muffled electric whir. And when I went to drive the excellent new E63 I was surprised to find its 4.0 V8 sounded much less naughty at start-up and low revs.

We spent half a year in the E63 We spent half a year in the E63 Nothing went wrong during our six months, but it was comforting to know that if it had we were covered by a proper Mercedes warranty. Even the handover inside the Peterborough showroom was up to new-car standards, including the full covers-off motor show-style reveal.

The first A-service, normally due at 15,000 miles and costing around £317, had been carried out early before we took delivery at 8000, which meant we needed a B-service at 20,000. That was £492 – not exactly cheap, but hardly terrible given the performance. And neither was the economy, which hovered around 20mpg in town and 25mpg on long motorway runs, making it not much worse than a hard-driven hot hatch. Even the tyres lasted the course, still showing months of wear thanks to a pitiful lack of oversteer on my part.

For a fleeting moment I wondered if I should buy it off Mercedes when I began to panic that its collection date was imminent. But with another long-term test car on the way I simply wouldn’t have time to drive it, so that didn’t make sense.

But it made sense for filmmaker Al Clark, whose work you’ll recognise even if the name isn’t familiar. Al, who shoots the odd car vid for us and many more for the likes of Jaguar and Land Rover, travels all over the place, and space is crucial because he’s always got mountains of kit to take with him. He didn’t buy our car, but something very similar: a 64-plate black-on-black estate with 18,000 miles on the clock that cost him £38,000 (below).

On the day it left us, our 22,000 E63 was worth £35,090, less than half of what you’d pay for a recently announced new-shape E63 wagon. To finance it through Mercedes’ approved used scheme you’d need to put down £7000 and then be willing to watch £560 get syphoned from your account every month. Now consider a brand new E220d wagon in AMG-Line trim: £6400 down and £419 every month. Or the current AMG-lite, the E43: £7k down and £880 per month.

Obviously there’s the extra fuel cost to take into account, but insurance isn’t as horrific as you might expect. Al pays £600 a year for his E63, but was quoted £2400 to cover an RS6 simply because the Audi is so much more likely to be pinched. Of course he’s now going to eat into that saving by spending £1300 on a Quaife diff, but still…

If you insist on having the latest gadgets, the W212 E63 probably isn’t for you. If you want RS6-style look-at-me styling, it probably isn’t for you either. But if you want a properly brilliant fast estate that goes like a supercar, sounds so good your neighbours will ask if it’s broken, and is more useable and affordable than you probably ever believed, you ought to look long and hard this way.

By Chris Chilton

Counting the cost: Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate depreciation

5.5-litre turbo-charged engine 5.5-litre turbo-charged engine Cost new £76,530

Dealer sale price £40,000

Private sale price £37,020

Part-exchange price £35,090

Cost per mile 25.3p

Cost per mile including depreciation 73.2p

Month 6 running a secondhand E63: how to pick up a used bargain!

To check our bargain Benz isn’t an anomaly I had a dig around on the Mercedes used car locator and turned up several.

Here’s one of my favourites, a 64-plate non-S in Obsidian Black that’s covered 20,000 miles, for under £40k. The cheapest current E-class wagon you can buy, the E200d SE, costs £36,735.

You get the same dealer experience and proper warranty plus almost 400 more nags. And you can moonlight as an Uber hearse to claw back the extra fuel cost.

By Chris Chilton

Month 5 running a Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate: this or a brand new saloon?

Last month’s worry that an upcoming fling with the new E63 might dim the lustre of our old one was mostly realised. A vocal new 4.0 V8 that revs higher and hits harder, and a stunning interior ensures the latest AMG E63 really moves the game on – from the old car, and rivals.

Draws great tarmac doodles too, with its switchable rear-/all-wheel-drive transmission.

Our two-year-old E63 Estate returned fire in two areas: it sounds meaner at start-up, and the wagon is a year away. Doesn’t look like an MG ZT, either.

By Chris Chilton

Logbook Mercedes E63 AMG

Engine 5461cc 32v turbo V8, 550bhp @ 5500rpm, 531lb ft @ 1750-5250rpm  

Gearbox 7-spd auto, rwd  

Stats 4.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph

Price £76,530 when new

As tested £41,000 now  

Miles this month 1434  

Total miles 18,890  

Our mpg 21.0  

Official mpg 27.7  

Fuel this month £366.27  

Extra costs £0

Month 4: why our Merc E63 Estate trumps much of the exotica we test day-to-day

Hi, I’m Chris Chilton. You may remember me from such articles as ‘Golf Giant Test’, ‘Audi A3: first drive’, and ‘Renault promises new RS will be 0.00001sec quicker round the Nürburgring (and for some reason people give a toss)’.

I’m lucky enough to drive some incredible new machinery here at CAR, including outrageous hypercars and state-of-the-art limos, but if you read our sister mag Modern Classics, you may see my name pop up at the top of features on a quite different set of cars.

Stuff that I first drove for CAR and Autocar back in the early noughties, plus some older metal from the 1970s and 1980s that I always wanted to try, or owned years ago and have been lucky enough to get reacquainted with.

So one day I might be picking up a new Aston Martin DB11 for CAR, and the next I’m driving a 30-year-old MR2 for its team-mate that makes only slightly more power than the DB produces from just two of its 12 cylinders.

Collectively, the cars I drive in the course of a month are such a diverse bunch the only thing that connects them, beyond them being the means for me to fund my mortgage, is that I’m delivered to and from every job by our E63. And I’m never ever disappointed to slide back behind the wheel.

When this car arrived I wondered aloud whether I’d miss some of the clever gadgets that we take for granted on luxury cars, but which our car lacks because it’s both an older design, and not particularly overburdened with optional equipment. And I’ll admit, it’s still a surprise not to find a reversing camera image pop up on the nav screen when you nudge the handsome gearlever forward.

But neither is it the end of the world. The parking sensors work well and because I’m back to parking on the street these days, and always struggle to size up gaps big enough to fit a lengthy E-class in, I’ve been using the park assist feature often. It’s one of those bits of kit that’s been around for years but I’ve never used on any other car other than to make my kids giggle. The latest E’s is even more advanced of course; you can park the car while standing on the pavement. But I can live without that, and anyway, it’s warmer in the car.

Another gadget I’m regularly using for the first time (mostly, because, unlike the kit on other cars, it actually works) is the voice control. At this rate I expect to be fully embracing hybrid power some time around 2030.

On the downside, the digital info screen within the speedo showing music and trip details is just too small (fixed, big time, on the latest jumbo TFT dash), and I’m quite envious of the new E’s ability to detect unseen cars when reversing into a road, say from a parking space.

Overall though, I’m still smitten with the AMG, and as far as I can see there’s only one job on the horizon that might deny me that contented feeling when I slot myself back behind the wheel at the day’s end. By the time you read this I’ll have come back from driving the new E63, all Hugo Boss-posh interior and drift-mode-equipped four-wheel-drive transmission. Must. Try. To. Stay. Faithful.

By Chris Chilton

Month 3 running a used Mercedes E63 AMG Estate: thirsty work, this long-haul malarkey

It was the best of timings, it was the worst of timings. Taking custody of a gas-guzzling super-wagon just as you’ve uprooted the family and plonked them way out west might seem like a suicidal decision. But I wouldn’t swap it for the world because I absolutely adore this car.

In June we moved from Stamford, near CAR’s East Midlands office, to South Hams, on Devon’s south coast. Everything I do, from getting to locations for photoshoots to catching up with friends and family now involves hours of driving and exchanging a wad of cash for the fuel to get there. A huge wad when there’s a 20mpg twin-turbo V8 providing the muscle.

At times it can feel like I’m miles away from anything and everything. I plugged a Suffolk address into the nav in preparation for one test location and the map had to zoom so far out to show me the full planned route before commencing with the instructions that I could also see Paris and Luxembourg.

But the E63 makes it seem like no hardship at all. It can whisk me to Heathrow in three hours on a clear run, cruise control on, Harmon Kardon stereo filling a cabin that’s barely bothered by tyre roar despite the rubber’s ample proportions. And on longer trips – it took over seven hours to get back to Newcastle to see my parents – it’s comfortable enough that I can crank the seat back and take a little nap to energise me for the next stretch.

The seats really are great. They might not look as racy as an RS Audi’s Recaros, but they’re easier to get in and out of, still usefully supportive, and far more comfortable over long periods of time. Lacking huge thigh bolsters, they’re likely to wear well too. Not something that can be said for the steering wheel, whose part-alcantara surface has gone decidedly hard and shiny.

The tyres, meanwhile, have confounded expectations, and remain in fine fettle. On real roads, as opposed to the track, the E63 actually has incredibly good traction, and in all honesty, the roads down here are too small to really let you go crazy with all 550bhp. Which could be why there aren’t that many big-power cars around. Apart from your run-of-the-mill Corsas and Golfs, the two most visible cars in the area are old Defenders and VW T5 surf bus camper vans.

Occasionally I find myself pining for a Landie, usually when I feel my stomach tying itself in knots as I squeeze myself as far into a bush as I dare to let a bus past on one of the unfeasibly small local lanes. It must be liberating not having to care about kerbing your pristine alloy wheels or scratching your pristine paint. Or even scratching somebody else’s: having swapped a detached house for a Victorian terrace I’m back to parking on street and the E63 is already displaying an urban battle scar left by some uncaring other. Anyway, must sign off now. I said I would be at the office tomorrow afternoon, so I better get going. 

Logbook: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate

Engine 5461cc 32v turbo V8, 550bhp @ 5500rpm, 531lb ft @ 1750-5250rpm

Transmission 7-speed auto, rwd

Stats 4.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph 

Price £76,530 when new 

As tested £41,000 now 

Miles this month 1280 

Total miles 14,890 

Our mpg 20.3 

Official mpg 27.7 

Fuel this month £341.49

Extra costs £105 (three parking tickets – can’t master this on-road parking thing)

By Chris Chilton

Month 2 running a used Mercedes E63 AMG Estate: depreciation deliberation

Stopped in to see my old 911 following a call from owner Sioux, who was pondering moving it on and wondering how to go about it. She’s had it eight years, in which time it’s done less than 4000 miles.The E63 has done nearly that since last month’s report.

Interestingly they’re both worth north of £40k right now but heading in opposite directions. Wonder how long it’ll be before the AMG is valued at the £15k I sold the Porsche for?

Logbook: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate

Engine 5461cc 32v turbo V8, 550bhp @ 5500rpm, 531lb ft @ 1750-5250rpm  

Transmission Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive  

Stats 4.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph  

Price £76,530 when new  

As tested £41,000  

Miles this month 3360  

Total miles 13,610  

Our mpg 22.0  

Official mpg 27.7  

Fuel this month £764  

Extra costs £0

By Chris Chilton

Month 1 running a used Mercedes E63 AMG Estate: the introduction

New versus used. To paraphrase an old chocolate ad, why have boring old cotton when you can have someone else’s only slightly soiled silk? It’s a recurring discussion in our office, and maybe yours too, and the reason we created our massively popular ‘new versus used’ twin tests which star in CAR’s Icon Buyer every month.

But the truth is we know far less about car makers’ used car schemes, the very places you might find the used cars we’ve been championing, than we should. So when Mercedes asked us if we’d like us to put its money where our mouth is, and find ourselves a used AMG, we couldn’t resist.

Which is why you see this particular car before you. And with 550bhp it tends to be before pretty much everyone else too. A 2015 15-plate AMG E63 estate, it would have cost £76,895 when new and made its first owner a very happy chap. Happy, that is, unless he was keeping track of its cliff-face residuals. Because today this same E63, in immaculate condition and displaying a paltry 8049 miles on its odometer, would set you back just £41,000.

That is extraordinary value for money, a genuine family supercar for the price of a high-spec four-cylinder diesel C-class. And all wrapped up by the same warranty and the same quality of service from the salesman you’d get if buying a brand new Mercedes.

We used the used car locator on www.mercedes.co.uk to source our car, and elected to collect it from CAR’s local dealer, Peterborough-based Robinsons, so we could find out more about the used car scheme. Salesman Allen Weston who, likes his colleagues, deals with both new and used cars, explained the strict criteria cars have to meet to qualify for Mercedes’ Approved used scheme.

Cars are usually no older than five years and wear a maximum of 90,000 miles. They must have a full official Mercedes service history, a minimum of 4mm on the tyres, no body damage and no kerbing marks to the wheels. And if they are going to need a service within 3000 miles or three months, that would be sorted before sale.

When we arrive at the showroom the car is under a black cover and a sign bearing my name welcomes us. Following the full motorshow-style covers-off reveal Allen takes us through our AMG’s various functions, suggesting we come back for a second or even third handover at a later date to talk though anything we haven’t grasped. You might buy cheaper over the internet – a dealer like Robinsons can only source cars from within its dealer group, not nationwide – but you won’t get that level of service.

But let’s get to the car itself. It’s a post-facelift S212-code E-class wagon fitted with the twin-turbo V8 that replaced the naturally-aspirated 6.2 on the original square-jawed pre-facelift cars. Long-suffering readers might recall we ran an almost identical E63 a few years back and loved every mile.

I’m a huge fan of the brilliant new E-class, by my reckoning easily the best exec on sale, and a proper showstopper when it comes to interior style and technology. And on first re-acquaintance with the previous E’s cabin it’s hard not to feel a bit underwhelmed. It has that stark solidity that made its great grandfather, the W124, so likeable inside, but it’s short on flair, and noticeably narrow of sat-nav screen.

But having said that, I’m actually rather glad of the old-fashioned console buttons that let you shortcut straight to the Nav, Media and Radio functions with one single press, and while the Command system itself  doesn’t have the large wheel and touchpad of newer Benzes, the functionality of the system itself, seems almost identical.

Obviously you don’t get the amazing array of sci-fi gadgets you do on a modern E-class. But the E63 was well equipped when new and of the options available at the time, our E has just one: £365 of privacy glass on the rear windows. The lack of a reversing camera is a surprise, but Allen claims that’s the sort of thing that could be remedied on a used car using OEM parts if the customer was adamant.

Will our time living with a car designed a decade ago have us pining for comforts like that, the kit you could have in the new C43 estate for a couple of extra grand? Tune in next month to find out.

Logbook: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate

Engine 5461cc 32v turbo V8, 550bhp @ 5500rpm, 531lb ft @ 1750-5250rpm

Transmission Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive 

Stats 4.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph 

Price £76,530 when new

As tested £41,000 

Miles this month 2201 

Total miles 10,250 

Our mpg 21.3 

Official mpg 27.7 

Fuel this month £526.59 

Extra costs £0

By Chris Chilton

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