Generation Gap: Mercedes-Benz 500E vs. E63 AMG
Welcome to Generation Gap, where we compare the hottest luxury and performance rides of today with their most direct and most iconic ancestors. The comparisons are based on the following criteria: performance, styling, pedigree, and features. Today, the combatants are Mercedes-Benz’s midsize muscle cars, the W124-chassis 500E (renamed E500 in 1994) and the latest E63 AMG.
Performance: The 500E featured a 5.0L DOHC V8 producing 322hp and 354 lb.-ft mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Zero-to-sixty happened in about six seconds en route to a top speed of 155 mph. The E63 has a 6.2L DOHC V8 producing 518hp and 465 lb.-ft of torque and feeds power through a 7-speed automatic transmission. It sprints to 60 in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph (186 mph if you order the performance pack). Advantage: E63 AMG
Styling: The 500E looked pretty much like any other W124 sedan (a handsome, stoic-looking shape typical of the Bruno Sacco era), aside from the flared fenders, deeper front valence and badges on the trunk. The E63 AMG is less restrained, with the aggressive sheetmetal sculpting of the standard E-Class augmented by quad-exhaust tips, a not-so-subtle body kit, badges on the front fenders as well as the trunk, and mean looking wheels bolted to big fat brake rotors. Advantage: Draw (Some people prefer sleepers, some people prefer making a statement.)
Pedigree: It was actually Porsche who handled much of the assembly work on the 500E, with partially-completed cars being trucked from one side of Stuttgart to another in a production process that spanned 18 days! Just 1,505 were offered in the U.S. over a three year period. The E63 AMG features a handbuilt engine, but the rest of the car is built on the same line as the plebian W212s. Its production numbers are considerably less limited. Advantage: 500E
Features: The 500E included anti-lock brakes, four-place Recaro seating (there were center consoles front and rear), and AM/FM stereo. The E63 AMG features a four-mode transmission, electronically controlled damping, a three-stage stability control system…and those are just standard features; options include a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and adaptive cruise control. Advantage: E63 AMG
Winner: E63 AMG