The Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG perfectly encapsulates how far the high-performance sub-brand has evolved since its backroom beginnings in 1967.
Brimming with technology but with the trademark practicality that has defined the AMG brand, the E63 ramps up four-door performance – and fun – in a big way.
To look at, the E63 S shares plenty with the everyday Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But delve deeper and there's plenty more brute to its demeanour.
Massive 20-inch wheels, a more aggressive grille, unique bumpers front and rear and extra bulges on the bonnet kick things off.
There's also additional vents and a sizeable set of carbon ceramic brakes.
The man behind AMG
First, though, to understand AMG is to learn more about the man behind the machines.
CEO Tobias Moers has worked at AMG since 1994, well before it became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz.
He has seen the early years, when AMG focused heavily on engines and tickling the performance of Mercs rather than starting with a clean (or cleaner) sheet.
More recently, he's led Mercedes-AMG in developing its first dedicated model, the GT.
Rather than being based on an existing Mercedes-Benz model – as with all others – the GT was a ground-up design to create a purpose-built sports car.
Building the brand
AMG's philosophy has generally been easy to digest: A bigger sledgehammer does more damage.
And while the latest 4.0-litre V8 is the smallest V8 ever fitted to an AMG – and well down on the 6.2-litre unit offered only a few years ago – it comes with two turbochargers for added effect.
All up, the V8 – which is a more powerful version of the same engine in AMG's flagship, the $260K-plus GT – slams out 450kW.
That makes it among the most powerful four-doors in the world, even crushing Porsche's potent Panamera Turbo on the way through.
It also has one of the best, most enticing exhaust barks of any turbocharged V8 on the market, Ferrari included. Blame that one on the boss; Moers is a stickler for sound.
Is there is such a thing as too much power?
Other than the SUVs, AMG's performance cars have always driven the rear wheels.
That's occasionally created problems, such as the V12 S-Classes that had their torque electronically limited to save them blowing up transmissions and ensure the grunt made it to the bitumen.
But with the E63 S there is now four-wheel drive, hence the 4Matic badges.
Dial up the launch control and there's a ferocious bite as all four wheels scrabble for traction.
Within 3.4 seconds you're doing 100km/h and the only thing stopping the E63 S surging beyond 300km/h is the electronic limiter that puts the brakes on the fun at the triple tonne.
Rather than smoky burnouts and wheelspin the all-paw thinking means the full 450kW and 850Nm are unleashed in a torrent of forward motion few cars come close to off the line.
But AWD is not without its drawbacks, the most obvious of which is weight.
The addition of two extra differentials (one in the centre and one up front) as well as heavy driveshafts can easily add 100kg or more.
Indeed, the E63 ain't light – it tips the scales at 1955kg.
E63 life ain't all rosy
There's loads to love with the E63.
But the way it deals with bumps isn't one of them.
Despite riding on air suspension there's a bump-crunching stiffness to the way it deals with any sort of sharp-edged imperfection, even in 'Comfort' mode.
Easier on the way in
It seriously detracts from the luxury of what is otherwise a comfortable, spacious large car.
The AMG Performance seats up front also hug you like a bear from behind – and they don't seem to want to let go.
They're great and snug once you're there, but extricating yourself from these race-style pews takes some extra rocking and rolling.
It's not all V8s
V8s have defined AMG, both aurally and in the way they perform.
But the brand has successfully evolved into other engine configurations, the boldest of which is a four-cylinder used in the small "45" models.
Pumping out 280kW, it is a fiery addition to the lineup and one that lives up to the go-fast promise.
It's also opened the brand up to a new breed of buyers, with a lower price level that compromises little on lap times.
More recently, AMG has added V6 models to its range, with what some have described as "AMG-lite".
Utilising a modified version of a Mercedes-Benz V6 – all four-cylinder and V8 AMG engines these days are a bespoke AMG design – the cars produce more power and have chassis modifications to give them some of the AMG handling.
But anyone who's driven the V8 models will realise there is a chasm between the V6 and V8s from AMG.
Of course, the next challenge is adapting that AMG flavour into a world increasingly moving to electric propulsion, something shown with the sexy GT Concept.
Living up to the AMG promise with electricity could be the biggest test of all for a brand that is as much about the noise as it is the performance.