The mere whisper of the words ‘station wagon’ will likely conjure-up images of the Griswolds and their obnoxious pea-green Ford LTD Country Squire heading off to Walley World.
Or maybe your Uncle Waldo’s faux-wood-paneled Buick Roadmaster, all grubby white-walls and red velour trim that made the interior look, and smell, like the inside of an old trombone case.
Ever since our love affair with tall-riding sport-utes went into hyper-drive, the humble station wagon has gone the way of floppy disks, Sony Walkmans and Britney Spears.
But now they’re back. Well, sorta.
If you’re looking for one of the coolest rides on the planet; one that tells the world that you dare to be a different; one that will deliver more heart-pounding driving thrills than any pseudo-sports SUV; look no further than Mercedes-Benz’ AMG E63 S Wagon.
Yes, it’s an oh-so practical family-hauler, with seats for five and a load area that can inhale the contents of your nearest CostCo.
But lurking under the hood is a 603-horsepower twin-turbo’d V8 nuclear reactor that can catapult this blistering Benz from zero to 60mph in 3.4 seconds. Did I mention this is a wagon?
The source of all this accelerative force is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, hand-built by the artisans at Mercedes’ AMG performance division.
It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic, strengthened to handle the V8’s 627 lb-ft tsunami of torque, that channels all that oomph to each wheel courtesy of a smart, rear-biased all-wheel-drive system.
And to drive this crazy power-wagon is to love it. Yes it’s a slingshot off the line, but the real thrill comes from the Merc’s locomotive-like thrust.
See the gap in the traffic, pull back a couple of times on the steering column paddle shifters, and the car surges forward like a fighter-jet off a carrier.
And the combination of laser-precise steering, air suspension with adaptive damping, and sticky Pirelli P Zero rubberware, lets the car grip the blacktop like chewing gum to shag-pile.
Did I mention the soundtrack? Check the options box for the $1,250 AMG Performance Exhaust and a deep-throat symphony erupts from the quad tailpipes. Krakatoa in full lava-spew, Concorde on take-off, KISS playing I Love it Loud can’t match the Merc’s melodious muffler as the engine revs soar.
The real beauty of this mighty E63 Wagon however, it its duality. When you’re not in the mood to play Mario Andretti, the Merc is happy to be docile, smooth, refined and relaxed.
And when you open that bank-vault-like front door, slide into the deeply-bolstered, ventilated and massaging driver’s seat, you can’t help but be relaxed.
The entire cockpit is breathtaking, with that giant glass-screen dashboard, gorgeous materials, and stunning detailing. And what’s not to love about sexy purpley-neon lighting that gives the cabin a cool Studio 54 vibe.
As for its role as a wagon, it’s definitely an over-achiever. The rear seat is split 40/20/40 for versatile load-carrying. And with the backrest flipped forward, it can swallow up to 64 cubic feet of stuff. That’s 7.5 cubic feet more than you get with Merc’s mid-size GLC sport-ute.
Naturally, the price of all this performance and practicality doesn’t come cheap. A base E63 S Wagon will set you back around $110,000. But there are plenty of options to tempt you, so our test car’s $122,710 sticker is more realistic.
As for telling your friends you’re rebelling against the SUV love-fest with a 603-horsepower station wagon? Priceless.