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Mercedes’ 603hp E63 S Wagon equally at home on Autobahn, at Home Depot

Why it matters to you

AMG shows the right genes can turn even a family-friendly wagon into a world-class sports car.

Mercedes-AMG is returning to the superwagon segment with the 2018 E63 S.

The E63 S is based on the E400 station wagon that broke cover last summer. Visually, its tire-slaying performance credentials are announced by a deep, jet-wing-inspired front bumper that incorporates large air dams and a strip of gloss black trim, flared fenders, model-specific emblems on both fenders, and four exhaust tips built into a wide air diffuser. Designers intentionally gave the E63 S a low-key look.

AMG offers two distinct variants of the E63 sedan, but the wagon model is only available in the top-spec S trim. It’s equipped with a hand-built, 4.0-liter V8 engine that uses a pair of turbochargers to produce 603 horsepower from 5,750 to 6,500 rpm and 627 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm. A nine-speed automatic transmission transfers the eight-cylinder’s grunt to all four wheels via a sport-tuned 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

The E63 S wagon is equally at home on the Nürburgring, on the Autobahn, and at Home Depot. It hits 60 mph from a stop in 3.4 seconds, and its top speed is electronically limited to 180 mph. When hauling cargo is the task of the day, the long-roof offers 35 cubic feet of trunk space with five occupants on board.

No well-rounded performance car would be complete without comprehensive chassis upgrades. The E63 S wagon benefits from an adjustable air suspension system, bigger brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, and speed-sensitive power steering. A built-in drift mode channels 100 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels to let enthusiasts put the sport seat’s lumbar support to the test.

Five driving modes — Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, and Individual — modify parameters such as the response of the throttle, the transmission, and the all-wheel drive system, as well as the responsiveness of the suspension and the steering. The E63 S can go from a quiet, comfortable highway cruiser to a brutal sports car at the simple push of a button; the only thing that doesn’t change with the different driving modes is the eight-cylinder’s prodigious amount of power.

Station wagons are slowly disappearing from our shores, but Mercedes remains committed to the segment. The E63 S wagon will make its public debut next month at the Geneva Auto Show, and it will arrive in U.S. showrooms in the fall. Pricing information will be released in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date.