First Mercedes-AMG PHEV combines 639hp V8 with 204hp electric motor
By Matt Bird / Wednesday, September 1, 2021 / Loading comments
Though AMG has dabbled with electrification before – remember the SLS Electric Drive? – this GT 63 S E-Performance is its first hybrid offering. Ahead of tougher battles for hearts and minds (and sales) as cars like the next C63 come along, AMG has used hybridisation in this GT 63 to do what it’s always done best: make a really potent V8 Mercedes even faster.
Worthy though the claims are around the efficiency of the battery, the F1 influence and the usable range (all of which we’ll come to), it’s the sheer power that’s hard to avoid. With a 204hp electric motor added to the 639hp, 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 found in the 63 S, AMG is claiming 843hp for this E-Performance model. Which makes most things short of a Model S Plaid look a bit limp, plug-in and electric Porsches included.
System torque is rated at between 1,010 and 1,470Nm “depending on the gear combination”, which means a range from 745lb ft to 1,084lb ft. Exactly how much weight that incredible torque is shoving along AMG won’t yet say – no surprise when a standard car is already 2,045kg – but it does say it’s enough for a 2.9-second sprint to 62mph, sub-10 to 124mph and a 196mph top speed. Initial estimates claim 32.8mpg and 196g/km; hardly remarkable for a PHEV, but pretty impressive for a car with near-as-dammit 850hp.
So those are the numbers – how they’re achieved is no less intriguing. Because AMG’s first hybrid must set the stall out for what’s to follow, and therefore buying in hardware simply wouldn’t do. The AMG-designed high-performance battery, electric motor, two-speed gearbox, and electronic limited-slip diff sit in an ‘Electric Drive Unit’ on the rear axle, with benefits for weight distribution and response (as it drives the rear wheels). The EDU can also transfer power forward via the propshaft if traction at the rear is overwhelmed, and work before the ESP to limit slip.
The 400-volt high performance battery itself is said to be a collaboration between the F1 engine shop in Brixworth and Affalterbach. AMG say it combines “high power that can be called up frequently in succession, with low weight to increase the overall performance of the vehicle.” To produce that 204hp maximum from a 6.1kWh capacity is deeply impressive, especially with a weight for the battery pack of just 89kg, though the continuous output is just 95hp. Because who needs longer than 10 seconds of 843hp?
Perhaps what’s more interesting is the cooling infrastructure introduced for this E-Performance GT; all 560 cells are cooled by 14 litres of coolant to keep the temperature of the battery around 45-degrees Celsius regardless of use. Not only does this mean that battery life is prolonged, it also keeps the performance consistent: when you want 843hp, you’re always going to get it.
In case it wasn’t clear, AMG is keen for this GT 63 to be considered a performance-focused hybrid rather than one aimed at sheer parsimony. Even against rivals like the Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid, an electric range of just 12km is paltry – the official figure is 50km for the Porsche. An 81mph top speed is promised on electric power, along with a “discreet or powerful sound experience” depending on what the driver has selected. Though power defaults to the rear wheels, the mechanical connection of 4Matic+ means the motor can power all four wheels. The GT will go to Comfort mode when the battery has run out after seven miles.
At least charging should be brisk given the fairly small battery; again, by means of comparison, the Porsche uses a 17.9kWh battery to generate 136hp, which makes the AMG a fair bit more efficient. It’s rejuiced via an onboard 3.7kW charger, a charging station or at home via a wallbox or socket. A 7kW home charger ought to have the job done in less than an hour.
Much else about the E-Performance is familiar from the rest of the GT 63 range; though the front apron here is bespoke – with new intakes for what must be a considerable cooling job – it’s still recognisable as a four-door GT. The rear is a little more different, with the charging flap visible plus ‘E Performance’ badges and trapezoidal exhausts not seen on any other models. But with Night and Carbon packages available, as well as a range of alloy wheels up to 21-inches and a colour palette that includes four matt paint options, the E-Performance can be made to look like any other GT four-door as required.
The interior is again familiar from the most recent update, up to and including the latest design of AMG steering wheel, albeit with even more to configure thanks to the hybridisation. There are four levels of regenerative braking, from coasting, to one pedal driving from Level 0 to 3, and seven AMG Dynamic Select Driving modes: Electric, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Race, Slippery and Individual. The E-Performance starts silently, although a “powerful, sonorous start-up sound typical of AMG is emitted in the interior via the vehicle’s loudspeakers as acoustic feedback showing readiness to get going”. Drift Mode is still possible, too, which promises to be spectacular, while ceramic brakes are standard, and the latest raft of AMG Ride Control+ revisions promise greater breadth between comfort and sportiness.
“With the new Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance, we are transporting our brand DNA into an electrified future. In doing so, we are following our own technical path, which is what has always made AMG so special and desirable. Developed entirely in Affalterbach, the performance hybrid offers a fascinating level of driving dynamics and rightly bears our new technology label E Performance”, said Philip Schiemer, AMG’s Chairman.
Following a public debut in Munich next week, the GT 63 S E Performance will surely be on sale before the year is out. Quite what an 850hp AMG will cost remains to be seen, though a sizeable premium on top of the £141,855 standard GT 63 S costs seems inevitable. F1-inspired battery technology doesn’t come cheap, after all. And if £150k four-door coupes don’t seem especially relevant right now for E-Performance AMGs, remember this is just the start – the four-cylinder C63 comes next year…
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