The headline numbers for the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance are genuinely scary, even for hardcore enthusiasts – but when you factor in a track like the fast-paced circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park, well that’s when I don’t mind saying beads of sweat started to form.
If this was a track test of the previous AMG GT R, which was armed with a none-too-shabby 430kW and 700Nm, you’d be jumping for joy. After all, that was a legitimate track-day weapon honed from the GT3 race car, but the all-new AMG GT 63 S E Performance 4-Door is a different kind of beast entirely.
For starters, it’s the first plug-in hybrid to come out of AMG’s Affalterbach HQ, and it’s been properly weaponised by combining the big-hitting 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 with an electric motor and lightweight battery.
It’s also a big unit, stretching more than 5.0 metres long and tipping the scales just shy of 2.4-tonnes, yet somehow produces system outputs of 620kW of power and an astonishing 1400Nm of torque.
I’m also reliably told it’s capable of generating up to 1800Nm given the right engine and gearbox mapping. Perhaps there’s a Petronas Edition in the making for those with a Super Licence, or those minted enough to fund an F1 team.
Moreover, this definitive engineering masterpiece from Mercedes-AMG currently stands as the brand’s most powerful series production model ever made, aside from the AMG One hypercar which hasn’t had its outputs officially released, we’re told.
Mind, the previous AMG GT 63 S with its singular combustion engine was no slouch either, boasting its own set of equally ballistic numbers; 470kW and 900Nm, but with more weight up the front than entirely optimal. That’s where this new PHEV version improves on things, with better weight balance.
Whereas other hybrids position the electric motor between the engine and the transmission, the latest Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance slots the e-motor directly on the rear axle, along with a 6.1kWh battery for a noticeably more dynamic 50:50 front-rear weight distribution.
The e-motor uses an electrically-shifted two-speed gearbox integrated with an electronically-controlled rear diff as well as the GT’s 4MATIC+ AWD system for the full complement of power from both power units whenever needed.
The battery itself weighs just 89kg, but claims high power density for rapid fast charging – even on track, lap after lap at full tilt. Its all-electric range is limited to just 12 kilometres, but that’s hardly the point of this technology I’d argue.
Nevertheless, the GT 63 S E Performance also boasts combined average fuel consumption of just 7.7L/100km – which I find just as extraordinary as its zero to 100km/h sprint time of a mind-blowing 2.9 seconds. Never mind the handling.
Despite its considerable bragging rights, the big Benz four-door coupe is still rather tame to look at. Few will ever guess what this monster is truly capable of, at least from the outside.
Apart from more aerodynamic front and rear bumpers and some specific red badging, it doesn’t give off the impression that it can run toe-to-toe out of the blocks with the latest Ferrari 296 GTB mid-engined supercar – so it’s properly stealth, then.
The latest AMG GT 63 S E Performance is the only GT 4-Door in the Australian range now, and is priced from $399,990 before on-road costs.
Direct rivals in this rarefied league are few and far between, and amount to just one; the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, but it can only muster a trifling 515kW and 870Nm of all-wheel twist.
Priced from $433,500 excluding on-road costs, it’s considerably more expensive than the hybrid powerhouse Benz tested here.
While the exterior might be decidedly understated, inside the opposite is indeed true of the GT 63 S E Performance.
In pit lane I managed to corner the High-Tech Silver car with swathes of quilted red Nappa leather, lashings of open-pore timber and plenty of polished metal.
There’s nothing that doesn’t look and feel expensive, though not in the same way you might find in a similarly priced Bentley Flying Spur.
The Benz interior is a more driver-focused space with beautifully sculptured sports seats designed to keep the driver (and three passengers) properly centred during warp-speed cornering – on or off the track.
There’s also an awful lot going on in the cabin, with an overwhelming sense of technology everywhere you look. There’s very little blank space given the number of touch buttons, screens and one of the busiest steering wheels you’re ever likely to see in a road car.
Oh, yes, this beautifully-crafted, leather-wrapped and perforated tiller effectively gets six spokes, two touchscreen dials and myriad of touch controls for all kinds of configurability.
That said, the driver’s display clarity and colour is simply superb. It stands as one of the only high-performance cars I’ve been able to clearly see the indicated speed of 245km/h into turn one here at Sydney Motorsport Park – but I suspect that’s more about just how settled the big Benz was on the straightaway as well as the sheer size of the head-up display.
Drivers can also set the GT’s regeneration levels of the hybrid drive via the steering wheel buttons and while more time will be needed to fully gauge the levels of configurability available, this was a purely a track test with everything ramped-up for max attack.
Remembering this a four-seater but with highly-bolstered pews that do their best to mimic the sports seats up front. There’s also a real sense of the ‘bespoke’ back there with good separation between the two passengers and stacks of storage for odds and ends.
In standard guise, there’s no folding of the rear seats, but buyers can choose the Manufactur Exclusive package which enables the two individual comfort seats to be folded in 40:40 split, though the centre console remains fixed.
Boot space is somewhat hampered in the GT 63 S E Performance due to its hybrid layout, losing around 25 per cent of the 457L boot capacity as a purely ICE version. The new GT PHEV maxes out luggage space at 335L, but bear in mind it’s a liftback design, so easy access and loading is a given.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance retains the bulletproof 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which on its own makes 470kW of power (5500-6500rpm) and 900Nm of torque (2500-4500rpm).
Power is delivered to all four wheels through a nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic transmission – effectively an auto with individual clutches, but on a single shaft rather the two used in a dual-clutch unit.
The combustion engine is augmented by an e-motor on the rear axle and a high-density 6.1kWh battery pack which adds 150kW and 320Nm using a two-speed gearbox. In concert, the dual power sources produce a combined system output of 620kW and 1400Nm.
Interestingly, the GT 63 employs a sophisticated liquid cooling system to keep the lithium-ion battery pack at 45 degrees Celsius in all manner of weather conditions – even when driven hard on track.
The GT 63 S E Performance also has a fully-electric range of just 12km, useful enough, but hardly its USP. Nevertheless, the lightweight battery (85kg) has an extremely rapid charge rate – it remained almost fully charged during lap after lap of the circuit at full noise. Quite remarkable, really.
Full-tilt acceleration from standstill to 100km/h is over in just 2.9 seconds, while reaching 200km/h takes less than 10 seconds on its way to a top speed of 316km/h. Equally impressive is the monster-Benz’s fuel-consumption claims of a staggeringly frugal 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle.
For sure this is an extremely complex machine but given the test was confined to the race circuit alone, it meant we pretty much dialled up everything to the max and jetted off in a bid to see just how 2.4 tonnes of sophisticated Benz technology feels when pushed well beyond most road-going limits.
The good news is there’s always a professional race instructor riding shotgun at Benz’s track events – mostly to offer a few key tips to get the most out of the car but also in case it all looks like going terribly wrong – especially at the huge speeds this thing is capable of.
While drivers can choose between multiple drive settings (Electric, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, Winter and Individual), we dialled up Sport+, which still enabled a few nannies to keep the car firmly on the black stuff – just in case.
There are more modes within the AMG Dynamics, which offer settings for the likes of rear-steer, 4WD, e-diff and the ESP, but these are also linked to the drive modes, so thankfully I didn’t need to fiddle about for this track-only test session.
And while there are perfectly good paddleshifters, we simply left the nine-speed transmission in Auto – though still pulling a paddle or two out of sheer habit, though there’s really no point given the speed at which this thing can swap cogs.
Fortunately, it was my second time at the track in as many weeks, which meant we could pretty much get straight into it the moment we left pit lane.
There’s no lag thanks to the GT’s dual power sources, but while you’re aware of the e-motor assistance at times, I’m still surprised at how linearly you can squeeze on the power.
And, while its obviously a seriously large car, on track, you really don’t get that sensation. After a few laps when you’re comfortable with your track lines, you really start pushing the big GT at a furious pace, but dare I say with complete and utter confidence.
That’s if you hit your apexes spot on. Get it ever so slightly wrong, though, and you’ll feel the might of those 2.4 tonnes pushing on as you scramble to correct the line by winding on more steering lock – despite the benefit of rear-axle steer.
The 420mm carbon-ceramic brakes offer stupendous stopping power at any and all speeds. On the main straightaway we saw 245km/h before wiping off a bit into turn one – and that’s with a less-than-ideal entry onto the straight. It’s crazy fast, but somehow utterly confidence-inspiring at the same time.
In Sport+ body control remains appreciably tight and very consistent, even under the hardest charging. If anything, I might have thought the GT’s air springs would buckle under the G-forces, but not these, not one bit.
It’s all part of car’s adaptive AMG Ride Control system. Honestly, I’m truly gobsmacked by what this monster four-door coupe is capable on track given its proportions and sheer heft.
Naturally, you can dial up EV mode and come and go from your home in complete silence. But out here on track there’s plenty of those delicious force-fed V8 decibels to revel in, though perhaps not quite as thunderous as the previous straight-ICE version.
AMG GT 63 S E Performance highlights:
- 21-inch forged alloy wheels
- Exclusive Nappa leather upholstery, four combinations
- Grey open-pore ash wood trim
- 14-speaker Burmeister sound system
- Tri-zone climate control
- Hearted, cooled front seats with massage function
- Heated armrests
- Heated rear seats
- 64-colour ambient lighting
- Head-up display
- Electric glass sunroof
- Wireless smartphone mirroring and charging
- MBUX navigation incl. augmented reality (AR)
- Power-closing doors
- AMG Performance steering wheel with AMG buttons
- Tirefit and tyre-pressure monitoring system
- AMG hybrid-specific displays
- 12.3-inch digital instrument display
- 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Rear-axle steering
- AMG light display
- AMG Ride Control
- AMG carbon-ceramic brakes
- Metallic paint
- Active LED headlights incl. active shadowing, auto dipping
AMG Night Package: $3490
- AMG Exterior light Package
- 21-inch AMG cross-spoke forged wheels (matte black)
- Heat-insulating dark-tinted glass on rear windows
- AMG Night Package 11 including black badging
- Vertical louvres of the AMG-specific radiator grille in dark chrome
AMG Carbon Fibre Package: $18,490
- AMG Exterior Carbon Package
- Carbon-fibre inserts in side skirts
- Trim element in front wings in carbon-fibre
- Outside mirror housing in carbon-fibre design
- Fixed rear aerofoil in carbon-fibre
- AMG matte carbon-fibre trim elements
Manufactur Exclusive Package: $8990
- Manufactur Nappa Leather Upholsteries (3 avaiable)
- Embossed AMG emblem above business console
- Business console with stowage compartment
- Temperature-controlled cup holders
- Mechanical roller sunblind for rear window
- Galvanised seat finishers with AMG lettering
AMG Performance Ergonomics Package: NCO
- AMG Performance seats
- Multi-contour seats
Standard exterior colours include:
- Polar White
- Obsidian Black
- Spectral Blue
- Graphite Grey
- High-tech Silver
There are also 14 different optional Manufactur paints to choose from:
- Rubellite Red: $12,990
- Cote d’Azure Light Blue Metallic: $12,990
- Green Hell Mango: $15,990
- Classic Grey Solid: $12,990
- Yellowstone Solid: $12,990
- Kalahari Gold Mango: $12,990
- Copper Orange Mango: $12,990
- Vintage Blue Solid: $12,990
- Graphite Grey Mango: $9490
- Diamond White Bright: $2990
- Selenite Grey Mango: $9490
- Spectral Blue Mango: $9490
- Patagonia Red Metallic: $2990
- Cashmere White Mango: $9490
The GT 63 S E Performance has not been crash tested, and as such does not have a safety rating from either Euro NCAP or ANCAP.
Nevertheless it gets nine airbags, radar cruise control, Pre-Safe Impulse Side, Active Steering Assist and Active Lane Change Assist.
Mercedes-Benz covers the GT 63 E Performance with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Service intervals are 12 months/20,000km (whichever comes first), with scheduled service plans available for three, four and five-year terms.
Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance servicing pricing:
- 3yr service plan: $5300
- 4yr service plan: $8000
- 5yr service plan: $8325
You could roll up to your local lawn bowls club in the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance and no one would ever guess you’re driving the most powerful series-production car ever built by the three-pointed star – such is its intrinsic stealth value.
But the instant you ignite the dual-source powertrain in this sophisticated four-door hybrid and dial up Sports+, all hell breaks loose.
The fact that a full-size, four-door luxury car can be peddled at full noise around a demanding fast-paced circuit like Sydney Motorsport Park is testament to the technological sorcery of AMG’s finest engineering minds.
I came to the track with a blasé attitude about how pointless and expensive the car is, but after more than five, four-lap stints on the trot, I’m utterly addicted to AMG’s hybrid formula.
Regrettably, though, at around $430,000 on the road, few will ever likely get to sample the perfect blend of AMG old-school fun with cutting-edge 21st Century technology in its most weaponised form .
I’m glad I’m one of those few.
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