Buying Guide Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG W212

Buying Guide Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG W212

As if you need a reason to want a monstrously fast V8-powered super-saloon? The W212 received a couple of different engines in its lifetime, starting with the 6.2-litre M156 V8 before then being fitted with the M157 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 in 2011 and then receiving what was surely be the most dramatic facelift of just about any car ever made in 2013. Whichever engine you go for, and whether you opt for the more angular pre- or smoother post-facelift model, the W212 E63 is an awesome machine.


UP TO £20K

W212 E63 AMG


With the M156 you get what is widely considered to be one of AMG’s best-ever engines, here delivering 525hp and 465lb ft of torque and that means a 0-62 time of just 4.5 seconds which is very impressive but, above all else, what makes the M156 special is the way it delivers the power. It’s torquey but it also loves to rev and it’s also blessed with an awesome soundtrack, making it a superb powerplant and one that’s extremely beguiling. If, on the other hand, you prefer your super-saloon to be more of a torque monster, the biturbo V8-powered E63 will be of interest to you; while quoted power remains the same as that of the 6.2 engine, where the M157 bests its NA predecessor is torque, with 516lb ft on tap, and this new engine meant a 0-62 time to just 4.3 seconds.

While it doesn’t sound quite as good as the M156 (but then again, what does?) it still sounds far better than a turbocharged engine has any right to. It delivers massive mid-range shove, allowing you to pile on the speed with minimal effort and it also offers some serious tuning potential for those seeking even more performance. All that pace comes packaged in a sharp business suit of a body, with angular design elements and a rather futuristic look that seems a world away from the W211, while the interior also features a leap forward in terms of technology that brought it right up to date. The chassis is also impressive and while the W212 is a big, heavy car, it feels far lighter on its feet than you might think and the engineers did an excellent job of making sure this AMG E-Class could really handle.


The good news is that our budget will allow us to choose either a 6.2-powered car or a 5.5 example (but sadly not both together). £17,000 will be enough to pick up a 2010 6.2 car with around 70k miles on the clock and another £500 will be enough to put an estate on your driveway. At £19,000 we spotted two P30 Performance Pack-equipped cars, one of which was a 6.2 and one a 5.5 (which gets 557hp and 531lb ft of torque) both with around 57,000 miles and spending up to our £20,000 limit will give you a selection of 5.5 cars to choose from with mileages in the sub-50k range.


The M156 V8 fitted to the 6.2 version suffers from two major problems; the first is the head bolts on early cars, which could rust and snap off and even if this didn’t happen and they just loosened off slightly, it would cause the head to lift enough to allow oil and water to come together, and a low coolant light and misfire are the early warning signs. The bolts were replaced with studs at a later date and this is the recommended course of action – they can be replaced one at a time without the heads being removed and you can expect to pay around £1200 for the work at a specialist, but if the heads have lifted then the head gaskets will have to be replaced. The other major problem is to do with the cam wear and camshafts need to be changed at around the 100,000-mile mark, and if left unchecked the cam lobes will wear through the hydraulic lifters. Other problems include oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets and camshaft solenoid cover gaskets, rattling cam adjusters, and intake manifold failure.

On the 5.5-litre M157, in 2011-2012 models a cold-start timing chain rattle can develop as a result of the tensioners running dry and this can cause the chains to stretch which then need to be replaced. In 2013 a revised tensioner and guides were installed, and on earlier cars, the problem can be prevented with the addition of a non-return valve. The valve covers leak and there are also coolant hose leaks, caused by the hoses splitting and cracking with age, and the camshaft position sensors can leak oil to the wiring loom and this can then reach the ECU. Beyond that, power steering fluid leaks are a known problem, interior trim can come loose and the leather on the seats can tear on the base, electric windows play up and the Airmatic suspension can leak.


The W212 E63 is a superb performance saloon, arguably a sharper tool than the W211 it replaced, and it offers a hell of a lot of car for your money. The overall package is superb, combining comfort and refinement with massive performance and an excellent chassis, and it is a superb all-round luxury bruiser. Which engine you choose comes down to personal preference – the M156 is hugely characterful, makes an awesome noise and delivers an exciting and engaging experience. The M157, meanwhile, delivers more performance and makes it more accessible thanks to that pair of turbos, with a bigger, broader spread of torque but it does so at the cost of noise and character in comparison. We love power so it would be the 5.5 for us, but both engines are superb, as is the package they’re wrapped in.

6.2-litre naturally aspirated M156 is iconic and bursting with character Earlier W212 is more angular but no less appealing. Cabin is sombre but stylish

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