Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance review: plug-in hybrid hits hypercar speeds

AMG tapped into Formula One team's expertise to devise a high-performance battery pack

Thundering V8 engines are Mercedes-AMG’s hallmark, but given the industry's push towards electricity the brand’s Affalterbach performance division is also embracing change.

AMG’s first battery-powered vehicle is the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+, but Merc’s go-faster division has ambitions beyond the Affalterbach treatment for vehicles that sit on the EQ platform.

The National travelled to Seville, Spain, for the international launch of the AMG GT 63 S E Performance, the first plug-in hybrid in AMG livery.

Unlike with conventional plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the real story here isn’t about ultra-low emissions or a meaningful EV-only range. AMG has instead prioritised delivering even more electrifying performance than with the GT 63 S — a blindingly fast four-door in standard form.

AMG tapped into the expertise of its Formula One team to devise a high-performance battery pack and software that allows electrical energy to be rapidly harnessed and used in much the same way that F1 cars do with their Kinetic Energy Recovery System.

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance will be available in the UAE in Q4. Photo: Mercedes-AMG

The battery pack has twice the energy density of conventional batteries, packaged in unison with an electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Both these components are housed with the rear axle, endowing the GT 63 S E Performance with perfect 50:50 weight distribution (weight is split in a less optimal 54:46 ratio over front and rear axles in the standard GT 63 S).

The battery pack kicks in with short bursts of power that supplement the familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to take peak outputs to 843hp and 1,470Nm.

The GT 63 SE Performance’s mighty grunt is kept in check by AMG Ride Control+ suspension, which is based on multi-chamber air suspension with automatic level control and adaptive damping.

Rear-wheel steer is standard, as is an electronic limited-slip differential and 4Matic+ with variable torque distribution that channels drive from petrol and electric powertrains optimally among the four wheels. The GT 63 S E Performance also gets larger ceramic composite brakes than the standard GT 63 S, measuring 420 millimetres at the front and 380mm at the rear.

The plug-in hybrid can hit speeds of 316kph flat out, given a long enough straight. Photo: Mercedes-AMG

The hybrid system comes at a cost (apart from the financial one) as it adds 240kg, taking the S E Performance’s girth to a sumo-like 2,380kg. Even so, it hides its weight well, making the 0-100 kilometres an hour dash in 2.9 seconds. It can also hit a hypercar-rivalling 316 kph flat out, given a long enough straight on a racetrack.

For the most part, the S E Performance drives like its conventional combustion counterpart around town and on the motorway, but it’s a more refined car as, apart from being quieter, the adaptive dampers provide more ride compliancy in Comfort mode as there’s now a greater spread between the drive modes.

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance: the specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 plus rear-mounted electric motor

Power: 843hp at N/A rpm

Torque: 1470Nm N/A rpm

Transmission: 9-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.6L/100km

On sale: October to December

Price: From Dh875,000+(estimate)

A track session proved equally enlightening, and our playground for the day was the 4.43km Circuito Monteblanco, comprising a couple of corners with heavy braking points, as well as a few fast, flowing bends.

With Race mode selected by a twist knob on the steering wheel, we started with two sighter laps, which boosted battery charge from 57 per cent to almost 90 per cent as the regenerative braking and combustion engine did their bit to top up charge.

With an almost fully replenished battery, it was then full attack, with five-time DTM champion Bernd Schneider leading the way in an identical car.

Aided by its 50:50 weight balance, plus its clever chassis electronics and four-wheel-steer, the S E Performance is a surprisingly nimble device capable of remarkable corner speeds for a 2.4-tonne sedan.

What’s more, the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain serves up great thrust out of slow corners, enabling it to slingshot down the straights.

The GT 63 S E Performance isn’t much quicker than the GT 63 S, but it’s still an impressive and highly cohesive piece of engineering. If you simply must have the latest and greatest, it doesn’t disappoint.

Updated: April 29, 2022, 6:16 PM
Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance: the specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 plus rear-mounted electric motor

Power: 843hp at N/A rpm

Torque: 1470Nm N/A rpm

Transmission: 9-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.6L/100km

On sale: October to December

Price: From Dh875,000+(estimate)