Mercedes-Benz brings high performance to the station wagon segment

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If you need a family vehicle and like being a little different, a station wagon makes a nice contrast to an SUV. (KABC)

If you need a family vehicle and like being a little different, a station wagon makes a nice contrast to an SUV.

Mercedes-Benz's E400 wagon is by no means a top seller, but it's stylish and practical, if a bit pricey at about $63,000 plus options.

But if that's not enough pizzazz for you, there's now a "wolf in sheep's clothing" version: the AMG E63-S wagon.

If you crave horsepower, it delivers 604 of them from a hand-built twin-turbo V8.

There's so much power on tap, Mercedes-Benz has to use its 4-Matic all-wheel drive system to get it all to the pavement. With high performance wheels, tires and suspension to round out the package, this is a track car hiding in a station wagon body.

One thing that can't hide is the sticker price. Base is $106,950, and the fully-loaded example I tested came in at a jaw-dropping $140,000.

This is definitely a niche vehicle, with no real competition. BMW has a new M5 model with more power than ever, and it goes head-to-head with the sedan version of the Mercedes AMG E63. But you can't get the M5 as a wagon.

There actually was a high-performance station wagon from Cadillac, the CTS-V Wagon. You could even get it with a 6-speed manual transmission if you wanted. But that one was discontinued - along with the regular CTS Wagon - a few years ago.

If you want to go really fast in a station wagon, this bad boy Benz one is pretty much it. And you're not only getting the fastest production wagon on the market, you're getting exclusivity.

Mercedes-Benz USA only sells a few hundred of them each model year. By comparison, the very rare super-cars from brands like Aston Martin, Ferrari and Lamorghini sell in numbers many times that.

So yes, the Mercedes-Benz the AMG E63-S wagon is rare. And yes, it's very expensive. But if you want to carry people and cargo, and be able put the hammer down and swallow up lots of pavement in complete comfort, this super wagon is the one to get it done.
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