How fast in the Mercedes Benz E55 AMG Wagon? Fast enough to send the sunroof cover panel backwards. Fast enough to fling the ice cream out of a well-packed cone. Fast enough to make you hit the recirculating air button to keep the smell of burning rubber from curling your nostrils. Fast enough to turn your securely fastened two-year-old into a Teletubby (Again! Again!). Fast enough to lure you out of your office for a quick spin to… anywhere. That's right: pistonhead catnip now comes in station wagon form. Go figure.
Just don't try and find one. You won't find an E55 AMG Wagon on your local dealer's showroom floor or in a glossy ad. The World's Fastest Station Wagon is only available by straight-from-Germany-to-your-driveway special order. By its own admission, Mercedes didn't think there were enough adrenaline-addicted Americans willing to stump-up $80k for a supercharged station wagon to justify the cost of marketing, promoting and importing the beast.
Huh? What about all the execu-Dads schlepping their off-spring in a luxury SUV, silently wishing they were behind the wheel of their Porsche, Ferrari, etc.? They NEED this car. Or, if you prefer, if they have this car, they DON'T NEED the other ones. Does your Porsche 911 Turbo S have 469hp? Does your Ferrari F430 boast 516ft.-lbs. of torque @ 2650rpm? I don't think so. While the image difference is obvious, the performance discrepancy loses relevance the moment you press go and pass well, anyone you like. In fact, Mercedes should knock-up some tasteful looking stickers reading "My other car is an E55 AMG station wagon".
I know: comparing a world-class sports car with a steroidal station wagon is like comparing a Patek Phillipe minute repeater to a Rolex Air King. But which one would you feel more comfortable wearing every day? Unlike most highly strung sex machines, the V8-powered E55 AMG Wagon is an ideal all-rounder. It ambles amiably, wafts imperiously, schleps commodiously and crosses long distances in a single bound– as well as roaring like a drag racer and pinning your ears to the back of your head. What's more, the E55 AMG Wagon gives less away to purpose-built corner carvers than you could possibly imagine, in your wildest dreams, after smoking hashish.
Provided you haven't disconnected the ESP handling Nanny, yanked the wheel hard over and thrown the stable doors wide open, the Uber E-Wagon will see you 'round radical radii at mental velocities, without ever threatening to swap ends. I wouldn't want to tackle one tight corner after another, but one at a time? No problem. Sure, the steering is a bit light at low speeds, with more turns lock-to-lock than some RV's. But it weights up just fine when the going gets nuts. Yes, even in comfort mode, the suspension is a bit rough. But it's always ready. Granted, Merc's masterful seven-speed gearbox would've been more user-friendly than their elderly (if robust) five-speed slushbox. But there is always– ALWAYS– power underfoot.
But you probably knew that just scoping this bad boy. A normal E-Class wagon looks a bit like a hearse. You wouldn't think that lowering the chassis, aerodynamicizing the bodywork, filling the arches with AMG twin spokes (sporting 18" rubber) and fitting quad oval exhausts could transform the pearl-wearing soccer Mom's bourgeois style statement into a Dodge Magnum-style bad ass load lugger. But it bloody well does. Add presidential window tinting and I reckon Merc's top-spec wagon would look more like a guided munition than family transportation.
Of course, the E55 AMG Wagon IS a people carrier, coddling the kiddies in a style to which they should never grow accustomed: immaculate leather seats, four-way climate control, killer tunes, piano grade wood, etc. (Note to children: schmutz anything and die.) The lack of headrest-mounted DVD screens is inexcusable, but at least you can banish miniature miscreants to rear-facing, back-of-the-bus seats. And it's nice to know that the E55 AMG Wagon is less likely to tip over than an Irishman after his first whiskey.
It's also worth noting that the E55 AMG Wagon is built like a brick shithouse. The more of these AMG products I drive, the more I'm convinced that Mercedes still has the craftsmanship it needs– somewhere– to return the brand to its rightful position atop JD Power's quality surveys. The E55 AMG Wagon has that hewn-from-a-single-cliché feel to it; everything thunks, clicks and slides with what used-to-be-called Germanic precision. If you want to know why people are bitching about the discrepancy between their faith in Mercedes' engineering and "You're kidding. It just FELL off?", don't drive an E55 AMG Wagon. But if you want a station wagon that's both a wife and a mistress, you MUST try this car.