The end-all be-all speedy wagon has long been the Mercedes E63, but now Audi is bringing the RS 6 to US shores for the ultimate power wagon showdown.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S wagon has long been the only performance wagon you could buy in the US. A rare mix of poise, power, and practicality, the E63 has also long been the darling of automotive media types, with many calling it the best thing on four wheels. It was, for low these many years, unparalleled. But no longer. Audi has finally chosen to grace the States with their own power wagon, the RS 6 Avant sporting its own roaring twin-turbo V8 and ample cargo capacity.
So naturally, we wanted to see how well the RS 6 Avant actually matches up with the long reigning king of the uber-wagons, the AMG E63 S. Both feature a metric ton of the latest and greatest in luxury tech, monster turbocharged V8s, and oodles of both style and practicality in equal measure. Whichever might come out ahead in this match-up, both are every bit as good as their six-figure price tags would suggest.
As the ultimate sleeper, the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S possesses an outlandish amount of power under the hood. Housed within its bulging front end is a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with 603 horsepower and 627lb.-ft. of torque. The hand-built AMG engine is married to a nine-speed automatic transmission (complete with paddle shifters). 4Matic all-wheel drive comes standard. Despite a curb weight of 4,683lbs. the E63 S can rocket from a standstill to 60mph in just 3.4 seconds. Fuel efficiency isn’t its strong suit, delivering just 16 city and 23 highway mpg for a combine 18 mpg.
In an effort to beat Mercedes at the super wagon game, Audi graced the RS 6 Avant with its own 4.0L twin-turbo V8 that nets 591 horsepower and 590lb.-ft. of torque, but in this case the V8 gets a little added assistance from a 48-volt mild-hybrid boost. The engine is paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission (complete with paddle shifters, of course). Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive is standard, too. The RS 6 leaps from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds even though it weighs in at 5,031lbs. Naturally, it too is a thirsty beast only able to muster 15 city and 22 highway for a combined 17 mpg.
Both the E63 and RS 6 feature cylinder deactivation, cutting down the working cylinders from eight to four to help conserve fuel at highway speeds.
Obviously, both the E63 S and RS 6 Avant are land missiles with cargo space to spare. But how do the driving experiences compare?
Starting with the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S, from behind the wheel of this wagon it quickly dawns on you why this is considered the Goldilocks, best-of-all-possible automotive worlds. While there are plenty of swift luxury crossovers out there, all the handling compromises you find in them are absent in the E63. The E63 is amazingly agile, no “for its size” qualifies necessary. Steering is razor sharp and the twin-turbo V8’s linear power delivery is virtually lag free. Mashing on the throttle has those 627lb.-ft. of torque instantly pinning you to your seat as the landscape outside begins to blur.
The E63’s has an additional trick up its sleeve. A drift mode decouples the front axle, allowing the E63 to become RWD. Dragster speed and a ferocious engine note are rounded out with the chance to get smoky around corners … in a wagon.
2021 Audi RS 6 Avant – media.audiusa.com | Shop 2021 Audi RS 6 on Carsforsale.com
For its part, the Audi RS 6 Avant would astound where it not for the precedent of the E63 wagon. The RS 6, even without a drift mode, is by no means buttoned down. Rear wheel steering amps up the maneuverability, making it nearly as nimble as the Mercedes. Plus, the RS 6 does have torque vectoring which allows up to 80% of the power to be focused to the back tires. Though it’s 0-60 time is a tenth of a second (of a little more depending on who you ask) behind the E63, the RS 6 offers a nearly identical amount of neck-snapping punch off the line.
At the end of the day, neither wagon disappoints but side by side the AMG E63, with its drift mode and guttural roar, has a little more edginess.
Like the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the AMG E63 wagon offers one of the most refined and comfortable cabins in the industry. Nappa and Alcantara leather abound (complete with plenty of tasteful accent stitching). There are options for wood or carbon fiber trimming. The front seats offer 18-way power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. An already quiet cabin can be further insulated with an “Acoustic Comfort Package”. The dash if dominated by twin 12.3-inch screens for the gauge display and infotainment respectively. Cargo, because this is a wagon after all, is 35 cu. ft. in the rear and a full 64 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded down.
The Audi RS 6 also follows in the same vein of the rest of the company’s lineup, with slightly sharper lines than the Mercedes but certainly as refined and comfortable. Material are high quality throughout, with options for things like carbon fiber accenting. The optional 22-inch wheels look properly aggressive nested inside the muscularly flared fenders of the RS 6, though they do stiffen the ride compared to the standard 21s. And yet, even with those large 21-inch wheels the RS 6 rides more smoothly than the 19-inch equipped E63, thanks in part to the multimode air suspension. Cargo is slightly smaller than the Mercedes however, at 30 cu. ft. in the rear and 59 cu. ft. in total.
Standard infotainment in the E63 includes Mercedes’s MBUX software, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging, and a high-end Burmester stereo system. Options include a heads-up display and Wi-Fi hotspot.
Standard features include keyless entry, remote start via mobile phone, 64-color ambient lighting, Nappa leather seats, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilate front seats, and a power liftgate. Options include heated rear seats, massaging front seats, automatic soft-close doors, three-zone climate control, and Acoustic Comfort Package.
Safety features include (but are not limited to) active brake assist, parking assist, adaptive high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, and crosswind assist. Additional safety options include active emergency braking, active blind spot assist, and lane keep and lane change assist.
The RS 6’s infotainment is housed in a 10.1-inch display complimented by another 8.6-inch display directly beneath where the climate control is located (this screen also houses a keyboard function, complete with a sketch pad function to draw rather than type words, for imputing location details for navigation). Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is here, too.
Rather than offering individual options, most of the RS 6’s options come as packages. The optional carbon-ceramic brakes (included in the Carbon Optics Package or the Gray Ceramic Brakes Package) increase stopping power and up the otherwise limited top speed to 190mph. Notably these ceramic brakes are shared with VW Group cousin the Lamborghini Urus. The Seat package provides the 18-way power adjusting, memory, heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats. The Executive package ups the Nappa leather, adds heated rear seats, a HUD, and the power soft-closing doors.
Safety includes the Driver Assist package the comes with rear cross traffic alerts, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist among other features. There’s also a night vision assist feature (displayed in the gauge cluster) as well as the superb 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo.
2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63 S – mbusa.com | Shop 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on Carsforsale.com
Both the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S and the Audi RS 6 Avant are beefed up luxury wagons with excessive amounts of acceleration and room for the family besides. But only one could reign as the supreme euro uber-wagon of our dreams, and that remains the E63 S. As we noted at the beginning, the RS 6 Avant will not disappoint; it’s got all the style, roominess, and brute force you’d ever really need in a grocery getting speed demon. And yet, the E63, with its drift mode, guttural exhaust, and Mercedes refinement remains one step, albeit a small one, ahead of it’s sole rival, the RS 6.