Mercedes E55 AMG Wagon Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

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.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.