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Fuel's paradise; THIRSTY E63 MERCEDES IS ALWAYS READY TO ROAR.

Byline: Richard Hammond

RIGHT, I need a break from recharging times, regenerative braking, kilowatt motors, iron-based batteries and all the other stuff that comes with these new fangled electric cars.

Of course, the electric car is on its way but you still can't beat the filthy old internal combustion engine. I mean, you can now buy a BMW 3-Series that can do 60mpg and I can imagine that we'll soon have cars that can do 100mpg - all without having to trail an electrical flex out of your friends' dining room window when you've popped around to watch the footie and share a pizza.

So this week I bring you the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. It is as green as a supertanker crash and more fun than working in a beer factory.

There is an electric motor in the E63 AMG but its job is to start the 6.2-litre V8 engine (it's actually 6,208cc but Merc has taken the liberty of calling the car an E63). This thundering great engine has 518bhp and 465lb ft of torque and blasts the E63 from 0-62mph in 4.5sec.

Top speed is 155mph, restricted by the silly voluntary limit that German manufacturers stick to (except Porsche) but if you got a boffin to break into the car's computer you could uncork it to do an easy 180mph plus. A very illegal speed but then so is 155mph.

I've spent almost a week with the gruntmeister Merc and I don't want to give it back. My body doesn't want me to give it back. My ears don't because they love the V8 rumble and roar it makes. It is possible to drive through town quietly because, at low rpm, the engine gives out only a muffled grumble but it's virtually impossible to resist blipping the throttle to impress teenage male pedestrians.

My back doesn't want the E63 to go back to its home because this one is fitted with electric seats that not only blow cool air on to your back and bum but also give you a free massage.

My left foot doesn't want the car to go because it can just sit there doing nothing while its neighbour does the throttle and brakes because the E63 has a very smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox.

It's a week's work to read through the owner's manual to work out what all the knobs do in this car. There's a host of different settings for suspension, traction and stability control and throttle response.

You can probably even set up the cigarette lighter in Sport mode.

The E63 AMG has conventional steel springs at the front and air springs at the rear. Presumably, this is to give the best of both worlds - precise handling and a comfortable ride.

Even on the most sporty setting the car is not uncomfortable. Not just on motorways but on B roads, too. The ride is a bit choppy in Sport setting but then that's like saying it's difficult to hear your iPod when flying a Eurofighter due to the noise the afterburner makes. You buy an E63 AMG because you want your senses tingled and shaken up.

Driving this car is very relaxing anyway because, with 518bhp, you only need to tickle the accelerator pedal and you're in the next county.

A Lamborghini Murcielago might be a lot faster but the E63 is so effortless. It also looks a lot more subtle than a Lambo.

You won't mistake it for a taxi but the skirts, carbon rear boot spoiler, AMG alloy wheels and flared wheel arches do make it look sinister and special. The price is a bit special, too.

The E63 AMG costs more tha Jaguar's splendid XFR which has almost as much power but not quite as much room inside. I should imagine that the depreciation on the Merc will be as staggering as the car's performance - the good news is one day it will be a performance bargain.

And one day cars like this won't exist at all. Or they will but there won't be any petrol to put in them. The Mercedes E63 AMG is the sort of car that'd send an environmentalist into a spasm of rage but Mercedes would argue that motors like the E63 generate cash that can be used to research and develop the cars of the future. And it's an argument that holds water.

Not that I've had any trouble with my conscience driving this wonderful motor. Or with my back, for that matter.

THE RIVALS

BMW M5

Hi-tech missile with V10 engine and 500bhp. Exciting but not as good an everyday car as Merc.

Audi S6 V10

Try this 580bhp Lambo-powered Audi.

The craziest of the crazy.

Jaguar XFR

Stylish, fast, comfortable with a lovely supercharged V8. Almost a bargain in this company.

THE FACTS

Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Four-door saloon

Price: Contact dealer

Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 518bhp 0-62mph: 4.5sec

Fuel consumption: 22.4mpg

CAPTION(S):

THE UNGREEN MEAN MACHINE Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG GADGET CITY Lots of knobs to turn
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2009
Words:840
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