AMG’s first hybrid is a raucous marriage of V-8 and electric motor
If the numbers posted by this four-door bruiser are any indication, hybrids have a rosy future at Mercedes-AMG. Meet Affalterbach’s first marriage of V-8 and electric motor: The GT 63 S E Performance.
Here’s the quick and dirty version: You’re looking at the most powerful production vehicle built by AMG, a slinky sedan that can hurtle itself to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. Total system horsepower is 843, and torque is in the four figures—1033 lb-ft.
The slightly more complicated story: This hybrid version of the GT 4-Door previews the shape of things to come at AMG, spearheading Mercedes’ mighty effort to translate its rich performance heritage into the electric era.
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Cover “E Performance” with your thumb and the rest of the name should ring a bell. Back in 2018, Mercedes’ high-performance department decided to cook up a Panamera contender: The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. Though AMG developed its own luxury-laden bruiser, the vehicle used highly modified version of an existing Mercedes architecture—that of the E-Class. Frame rails and wiring harnesses aside, however, the strangely named four-door was pure Affalterbach: the CLS-esque body, the dramatic interior, the active aero, the burly V-8 engine in the GT 63.
The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 in the “regular” GT 63 4-Door Coupe was good for 577 hp. Insert an “S” after 63, and AMG took the powerplant off its leash: 630 hp and 644 lb-ft of torque. Those figures were good enough to crown the GT 63 S 4-Door the most powerful Mercedes in production … until this hybrid version, the GT 63 S E Performance, came calling.
“E Performance” designates a sort of stealth contingent in AMG’s electric performance offensive: familiar powerplants (either the M177 V-8 or the M139 turbo-four) backed by high-tech hybrid systems in models positioned as the natural range-toppers in their respective model lines. Want the most powerful GT—or C-Class or E-Class? It’ll be an AMG, and it’ll be a hybrid. Perhaps to soothe the skeptics, these E-Performance models shouldn’t stray far from the styling of their ICE brethren, if this GT 63 S E Performance is any indication. Unless your keen eyes spot the slightly wider intakes in the hybrid’s cheeks, you’ll have to look hard for the charging flap on the right rear hip and the itsy-bitsy E-Performance logo underscoring the V8 Biturbo script on each shoulder.
(The other half of AMG’s electric strategy, alongside the E Performance Hybrid models, is comprised of pure-electric offerings based on Mercedes’ EQ platform. Expect each to be loosely aligned in size and price with the traditional model lineup, but marketed as cousins rather than siblings. Today, though, we’re here to talk hybrid.)
The first E-Performance model sets the recipe for future electric-assisted AMGs: combustion engine up front, Electric Drive Unit (EDU) out back. The former spells familiar, ripsnorting German goodness: four liters, two turbos, 639 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque backed by a nine-speed AMG auto. The fancy new EDU is comprised of an electric motor (good for 204 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque), a two-speed gearbox, and a limited-slip rear diff. Together with a battery primed for power delivery and draw (not range), the EDU brings a host of party tricks: more balanced weight distribution, rear torque vectoring, electric-only power up to 81 mph, one-pedal drive, and (as a sort of bonus) a 7-mile EV-only range. Said battery is a lithium-ion affair developed in-house by AMG, which has created a new cooling system to keep the cells in their optimal operating range, around 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Roughly 4 gallons of coolant circulates around all 560 cells individually, helping keep the battery happy even as aggressive driving rapidly depletes and recharges it.
Mercedes is keeping mum on weight for now, though the extra electric kit will likely tip the hybrid well above the 4500-pound figure posted by the GT 63 S. Expect the standard air suspension and a heavy-duty stopping setup to be well up to the task. Six-piston calipers chomp 17 x 2mm carbon-composite rotors up front, and single-piston affairs paired with 15 x 1mm rotors supplement the EDU regen system out back.
Current V-8 supply issues aside, AMG appears to have mixed just the right cocktail of old and new in its first hybrid. It’s burbly enough to draw in the faithful and techy enough to show AMG’s investment in electric drivetrains. Now, how about a test drive?