Mercedes-Benz's new E Performance tree has born its first significant fruit: the 2023 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance. We noted previously that Benz's teaser of a new, electrified AMG GT model bore a striking resemblance to the 63 S. Well, as it turns out, that's exactly what the folks in Affalterbach had in mind.
As the first performance model powered by AMG's new V8 hybrid powertrain, the GT 63 S E Performance can be forgiven for taking some big swings. How big? Try 831 horsepower and more than (their words, not ours) 1,033 pound-feet of torque.
The twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 is, at its most fundamental level, not all that dissimilar from the one found in many of the company's more "pedestrian" AMG models. But when you pair it to a 201-horsepower electric motor mounted directly to the rear axle, things get a bit more spicy. Borrowing tech from the AMG Project One and its recent line of mild-hybrid gasoline engines, the new E Performance powertrain represents a significant evolution of the AMG formula. This new modular powertrain pairs the rear-mounted electric drive unit to a turbocharged gasoline engine. The electric motor drives the rear axle directly, but power can be sent to the front axle (essentially the same way it is transferred from the gasoline engine to the rear, just in reverse), thanks to AMG's advanced all-wheel drive system.
"With the new Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance, we are transporting our brand DNA into an electrified future," said AMG boss Philipp Schiemer. "In doing so, we are following our own technical path, which is what has always made AMG so special and desirable."
Just how special are we talking here? AMG says the GT 63 S E Performance will hit 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds and 125 mph in under 10. Top speed? 197 mph. Its electric vehicle credentials are a bit more modest, however. Despite being a plug-in model (the charging port is visible in the rear bumper), the E Performance makes do with a 6.1 kWh battery good for only about seven (yes, 7) miles of all-electric range.
"Developed entirely in Affalterbach, the performance hybrid offers a fascinating level of driving dynamics and rightly bears our new technology label E Performance. With this new concept, we are also opening up to new target groups who will experience Mercedes-AMG as the performance luxury brand of the 21st century."
While the V8 up front is otherwise conventional, it does incorporate an electric turbocharger. Mercedes has dabbled in electric boosting with its 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains, but this represents a fairly significant evolution of the tech. At its core, it's still an exhaust-powered turbine, but at lower engine speeds and throttle openings, it will be juiced by electricity from the E Performance hybrid's battery, spooling it instantly and effectively eliminating any potential turbo lag. In this capacity, it eliminates the need for additional (or more complex) turbochargers to smooth out power delivery at different engine speeds.
Out back, the drive unit integrates the mechanical differential (connected to the V8 by an old-fashioned mechanical prop shaft) with the electric drive unit, which is fed directly by the rear-mounted battery pack. Mercedes says the 63 S E Performance's rear drive unit utilizes a two-speed transmission (not to be confused with the conventional 9-speed multi-clutch unit paired to the V8 up front) that shifts at approximately 87 mph, which corresponds to the electric motor's maximum speed of 13,500 RPM.
While this model is clearly set up to be a performance car first, the underlying tech is effectively application-agnostic. Dial back the scale of the engine and add some battery capacity, and the same modular system could deliver significantly more all-electric range, making an excellent foundation for a more luxurious (and frugal) premium experience. You know, like you might expect from an S-Class.
And since it's a Mercedes, every mechanical bit is paired with six or seven microprocessors (no, we didn't actually do the math). The drive modes (Mercedes refers to it as its "Dynamic Select" system) have been shaped with the 63 S E Performance's hybrid powertrain in mind. The selector includes a full EV mode (critical in Europe) along with most of the usual suspects.
In a nod to those who prefer finer control over each performance system, Mercedes has a separate setting just for brake regen. Level zero is designed to feel just like a bog-standard internal combustion car and level three allows for one-pedal driving; levels one and two split the difference. Mercedes notes that selecting the "Race" mode from dynamic select automatically adjusts the regen to the equivalent of level one "to allow the most reproducible vehicle behavior possible at the limits."
All of the figures here were derived from the European-spec model. Mercedes says it will release U.S. specs (including curb weight, which we're eager to see) and pricing closer to the AMG GT 63 S E Performance's official on-sale date, which is expected to be some time next year.