Eight hundred and four brake horsepower. That’s what you get when a four-litre biturbo V8 and an electric drive unit combine forces in the new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 E Performance.
It’s a mighty step up from the AMG SL 63 with its 577 bhp and makes it, not just the most powerful SL in history, but the most powerful Mercedes model in production – excluding the very-limited-run 1048 bhp AMG One, of course.
Like the AMG One the new SL 63 E Performance borrows from Formula 1 with its hybrid system designed for maximum power delivery in short bursts rather than a long-distance all-electric range. The battery pack, which sits above the rear axle is only 6.1 kWh in capacity, but with its 400-volt architecture can deliver 150 kW of peak power, or 70 kW continuous. The cells are direct cooled to keep them at optimum temperature for ultimate performance.
The e-motor is a permanently excited synchronous unit with an electrically switched two-speed transmission and a mechanical rear axle limited-slip differential. By acting on the rear axle AMG says the power is delivered more directly, and its location also helps with weight distribution. Drive from both power units can be directed to the front axle via the fully-variable AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
Give it everything and AMG SL 63 E Performance will burst from rest to 62 mph in just 2.9 seconds and will charge on to a top speed of 197 mph. On the topic of charging, there’s a 3.7 kW on-board unit to top up the battery, but most of the energy put in will be from recuperation, with four different levels of regenerative braking, including a one-pedal mode, which can send up to 100 kW back to the battery.
There are no less than eight different AMG Dynamic Select driving modes ranging from Electric to Race, which map engine, transmission, steering, damping, and sound to suit the driver’s desires. The super SL will generally start in silence and can be driven for around eight miles on the battery alone before the V8 joins the party.
From the outside there’s little to distinguish the E Performance from the lesser SL 63, beyond the charging flap, grooved trapezoidal tailpipe trims and fender badges, but hidden away are some unique aerodynamic tweaks for improved high speed stability. Up front there’s an active spoiler which drops by 40 mm above 50 mph to create a venturi effect that reduces front axle lift. At the rear an extendable rear spoiler deploys at the same speed and has five different positions depending on speed and drive mode.
Suspension is by AMG Active Ride Control with semi-active roll stabilisation and there’s active rear-axle steering for extra agility. Braking is covered by ceramic composite discs with six-piston front callipers and single-piston floating callipers at the rear.
Moving inside you’ll find electrically-adjustable AMG sports seats with built-in massage feature, and Nappa leather with diamond quilting. Colour and trim options are almost limitless under the Manufaktur program, and the MBUX multimedia system features extra menus to monitor the car’s hybrid powertrain.
This generation of SL will be the last before Mercedes-Benz goes fully electric so AMG is clearly keen to show the benefits of adding amps to its performance portfolio. On paper it looks like they’ve pulled it off, but the proof will be in the driving. We’ll have to wait until 2024 for that, when pricing and on-sale dates will also be announced.