We loved the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon when we drove it here a couple of months ago. It is at the moment one of the best-equipped and technologically most advanced saloons in the mid-size luxury segment. So, when Mercedes-AMG says the all-new E 63 saloon launched yesterday will redefine the idea of a performance saloon, we don’t see ourselves contending the claim.

Incorporating all the innovative goodness of the E-Class, the E 63 packs a wild 4.0-litre biturbo V8 under its bonnet. Offered in two different states of tune, it delivers a massive 603bhp and 850Nm of torque in the E 63 S, making it the most powerful engine to have ever been installed in an E-Class. It does the benchmark run in a blistering 3.4 seconds. Meanwhile in the ‘standard’ E 63, the same block churns out 563bhp and 750Nm, and goes from 0-100kph in just 3.5 seconds. “The new E 63 models represent the biggest step forward we've ever taken from one generation to the next,” says Tobias Moers, chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG. “Vehicle dynamics were especially important to us. At the start of the development process, we opted for a fully variable all-wheel drive system which, when combined with the advanced performance of the 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine, reaffirms our brand's “Driving Performance” claim,” he adds.

The eight-cylinder engine, which is mated to a nine-speed nine-speed dual-clutch transmission in both applications, also features cylinder deactivation, which shuts off cylinders two, three, five, and eight, based on throttle inputs. It also features the AMG Performance 4Matic+ variable all-wheel-drive system that alters the distribution of torque to the front and rear axles, with the best possible torque levels calculated continuously based on the driving conditions and driver's input. As a result of this feature, the E 63 S is able to have its entire torque channelled to the rear wheels when the new ‘Drift’ mode is activated. In this new mode that can be activated in the ‘Race’ drive program, the E 63 S becomes a purely rear-wheel drive vehicle until it is manually deactivated.

Looks wise, the E 63 takes the E-Class’s handsome lines, and makes it more butch with the larger air dams and all the aero addenda, wider wheel arches and a new exhaust system. Set to be officially launched at the LA motor show next month, the new E 63 will go on sale early next year.