Time to square the wagon
By Mike Duff / Saturday, 10 June 2023 / Loading comments
Whoever possesses the Brave Pill bingo card with the W212-generation E63 on it has probably just finished a line. Because we’ve already celebrated the high-risk appeal almost every other AMG variant over the last few years – this week marking the debut for the 2009 E-Class. Even better, it’s the wagon.
Because while the regular AMG-ized E-Class saloon of this generation is a fine thing, there has always been something very special about the estate. It’s likely down to the combination of huge performance and voluminous utility – the varying generations of E-Class wagon having always been some of the most spacious luggers available. This is a sharp-end performance car that can accommodate a family, lots of stuff and maybe also a dog or two.
We’ve previously Pill’d the predecessor S211 E63 – as fitted with the 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8. The older car still came with the option of pop-up rear-facing seats in the boot, something that seems – sadly – to have been dropped for the S212 E63, although it was still available with lesser engines. Our Pill is a 2012 car, meaning it uses the twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 that replaced the sonorous 6.2 the 212 was launched with. This new motor made an identical 525hp power peak, but a considerably mightier 526lb ft of torque from just 1,750rpm.
Trigger warning time – because as you’ve doubtless noticed our Pill features a couple of details that are likely to cause some concern in the comments. The first is the presence of one of those so-called 4D numberplates, the fourth dimension presumably being the time it takes you to say ‘no thanks’, plus a private reg that is only a deliberately misplaced screw cover away from reading BIG GUY. The E63’s rear and side glass have also been tinted to near impenetrability. Forensic analysis of the images by the database hamsters has also confirmed the car is running on the unorthodox combination of Michelin Pilot 4S rubber up front and Pirelli Sottozero winter tyres on the back. Something that is unlikely to have calmed down the E63’s noted enthusiasm for power oversteer.
So no shortage of discussion points, in other words. Although the fact the private reg isn’t included in the sale removes at least one of those issues, with the prospect of a couple of hours with a heat gun and a credit card workout on a tyre website offering low-hassle solutions for the others. Alternatively, the next owner might want to keep the nefarious shades and kamikaze handling balance, and apply their own alpha private reg: maybe one of those BO55 ones.
The E63 definitely doesn’t need to shout, with a large part of the appeal of a standard version being its ability to fly under the radar. I once had a wagon very similar to this one for a week, immediately after I had been running a bright red Audi RS6 Avant as a long-term test car. The Audi was a superb car, but also something of a moron magnet, people constantly trying to race it or just impede its progress. By contrast the E63 seemed close to invisible, few realising it wasn’t one of the 90-odd per cent of S212s powered by a diesel engine – certainly without being close enough to hear the sonorous V8 soundtrack. The AMG was much less stressful, and also usefully more economical – edging towards 30mpg over a long motorway cruise.
Our Pill is the cheapest S212 E63 wagon currently in the classifieds, up for £22,995 – with that price reflecting the fact it has covered 122,000 miles. While it is possible to get W212 AMG saloons for less, the estate is much rarer – fewer than one in ten on the statistical sample of the ones currently on the site. As such it is the pre-facelift car with the oddly shaped headlights – the revised version got a more conventional-looking front end – and it also does without the square dashboard clock which came with the 2013 refresh, and which Mercedes was strangely proud of at the time.
This one also seems to be well-laden with kit, having the full-length glass roof and rear-seat entertainment package which were expensive options when it was new. The continued presence of the separate headphones for the screens also seems to be the reason why the pockets on the backs of the front seats are bowed outwards in the pics. The interior could certainly do with a spruce-up – it’s been photographed with charging leads and a can in the cupholder. But the 212’s interior is famed for its ability to take use without wear.
The MOT history brings some more detail, but few surprises. The mileage acquisition was front-loaded, with our Pill having covered nearly 58,000 miles by the time of its first test in 2015, and 98,000 by 2018. Worn tyres have been frequently reported, there was also a fail in 2020 for a fractured rear alloy and an illuminated engine light. The MIL came back in 2021 and given the twin-turbo E63’s well-noted capacity for tuning that could well indicate it has been running with a boosted output. The most recent test in October last year was advisory-free and the car seems to have covered less than 2,000 miles since then. The dealer selling it also says it has recently had its timing chain replaced, which is a serious job on one of these.
With Mercedes having admitted it is likely there won’t be any estate cars in its long-term future it’s not hard to start feeling nostalgic to some of the finer examples of its past. When the definitive history of Merc wagons is eventually written, a book I fully intend to pen myself if no better candidate comes forward, the S212 E63 is going to be remembered as one of the real highlights of the clan. Enjoy them while you can.
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