The town of Affalterbach — where Mercedes-Benz’s performance division AMG resides in beautiful, evergreen Baden-Württemberg of southern Germany — has always safeguarded tradition.

There’s proof, in an elementary foundation like the badge on the boot lid. On this new car it says E 63, the figure commemorating a Seventies’ luxury Benz powered by an AMG 6.3-litre V8 that managed to come second at the 1971 Spa 24 Hours. Even if this 2017 model packs a 4.0-litre twin-turbo…

There’s proof also in Affalterbach’s recent upheaval of Garching (that is to say M GmbH…) as the German hotspot of production hot-rods, using simple, time-tested methods: a lot of V8 and rear-wheel drive. AMGs are still wild and hairy chested in a health and safety age. Except now the latest W213 generation E 63 has gone all-wheel drive for good.

Whether you choose the standard 563bhp car or the 604bhp S version they all come with Merc’s 4Matic+ suffix. This car marks Affalterbach’s breaking with tradition in favour of all-corner security on most of its future models with rear-drive reserved for halo sportscars. Gaze into the crystal ball and you see… understeer?

No, see, now you’ve gazed too far, all the way to Ingolstadt. Come back — of course they couldn’t help themselves, our affable Baden-Württembergers. AMG went and threw in a Drift mode for us traditionalists that turns the new E 63 into a good ol’ rear-drive ditch-digger.

So let’s just take a moment to contemplate, then, a family saloon with four doors and 365 litres of boot space, with a 12.3in high-resolution next-gen display, 23 speakers (twenty… three!), 360-degree cameras, industry-leading assistance systems including semi-automated driving, and five seats.

Oh and it also has 604 horsepower, that’s more than Mercedes-AMG’s flagship 2017 GT-R supercar, more than the old gullwing SLS AMG, and nearly as much as the Mercedes SLR McLaren hypercar, and that was one of the fastest things on the planet only a decade ago.

With a dual-clutch nine-speed transmission and clawing all-corner traction from the 10.5in wide front tyres and 11.5in rears, on 20in cross-spoke forged mono-locking wheels, and one of the clutches ‘wet’ (permanently dunked in oil) to take brutal launches, the E 63 S will sprint from zero to 100kph in 3.4 seconds.

That’s absolutely bonkers — this two-tonne five-seater will outrun a Ferrari Enzo… It’ll also outrun a brand-new Porsche 911 GT3, even a Pagani Huayra. To get 604bhp and 850Nm at 2,500rpm from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, engineers simply added new pistons and optimised the air intake, and then spent most of their time on the E 63’s chassis. The S model gets an electronically controlled rear limited-slip diff, active engine mounts, and larger brakes, although even bigger carbon ceramic discs measuring 402mm up front and 360mm at the rear are available as a cost option.

As for that drift function you’ll find it in the car’s Race mode, which also offers three stages of electronic stability control including fully-off. Mercedes-AMG goes as far as to optionally offer a Racetimer lap-management and recorder supplemented with a Mercedes ‘me connect’ AMG Track Pace app for iOS so you can share your laps (and ditch excursions) on Facebook and YouTube.

The mental new Mercedes-AMG E 63 and E 63 S will start shipping out of Affalterbach from May next year.