Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 63 S E-Performance review
AMG’s first-ever plug-in hybrid model charges in with a prodigious power output and plethora of technology. But how does it all play out from behind the wheel?
- Massively powerful and fast
- Relatively efficient
- Surprisingly agile
- Hugely expensive
- Poor electric range
- Hybrid Panamera a better all-rounder
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||7 miles||36mpg||180g/km|
It wasn’t that long ago that AMG, the specialist performance division of Mercedes-Benz, was associated solely with roaring V8 and V10 petrol engines – often squeezed under the bonnet of the German brand’s regular saloon and estate models to create snarling, fire-breathing high-performance variants of otherwise sober executive cars.
Times are of course changing, and AMG is changing with them. It’s already producing faster versions of Mercedes’ EQE and EQS luxury electric cars, but hasn’t yet abandoned combustion engines completely, turning to plug-in hybrid technology in order to boost both the performance and efficiency of its fossil-fuel-burning creations.
This is the first model to benefit from that approach: the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 63 S E-Performance. It’s not exactly a snappy title, and will probably take longer to say than the just-under-three-seconds the car takes to reach 62mph from a standstill. A total power output of 831bhp and 1,400Nm of torque help see to that, produced by AMG’s familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, driving through a nine-speed gearbox and working in tandem with an electric motor on the rear axle.
The 201bhp motor has its own two-speed transmission and draws power from a 6.1kWh battery – small by regular plug-in hybrid standards, and sufficient for a paltry pure-electric driving range of just seven miles. That all sounds like an extensive and complicated collection of hardware, and it is; the 63 S E-Performance tips the scales at a hefty 2,380kg, but does at least boast the ideal 50:50 front-rear weight distribution.
That weight coupled with the 0-62mph figure mentioned above gives you some idea of just how astonishingly aggressive the AMG feels when you floor the throttle in Race mode. The electric motor ensures there isn’t so much as a hint of turbo lag, and things only become more forceful when the V8 really gets into its stride.
Now comes the part where you’re probably expecting us to say that while the 63 S E-Performance goes like a scalded cat in a straight line, it's too heavy and imprecise in corners. But that’s not the case at all: AMG’s chassis wizards have done sterling work here, fitting rear-wheel steering, adaptive suspension and carbon-ceramic brakes to boost agility and keep all that weight in check when throwing the car around on track.
But this is an AMG, after all, so things don’t stay under control forever. Warm up the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres and corner-exit slides become very easy to initiate, while turning off the electronic aids completely gives you total freedom to play around on a circuit if your skills are up to it.
Once the trackday is over and it’s time to head home, the hybrid system does allow the car to be a relatively efficient long-distance cruiser, returning mid-30s fuel economy and emitting a claimed 180g/km of CO2. Impressive numbers in isolation for such a powerful car, but the Mercedes’ main rival, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, does even better in this regard, and is a better all-rounder as a result. Not to mention the fact that it's also available in more practical Sport Turismo guise.
The tiny battery means high-speed charging capability isn’t needed; topping up at 3.7kW from a wallbox or regular socket will see the battery replenished in around 90 minutes. Inside, the car gets Mercedes’ upgraded steering wheel and a cabin packed with technology, including a pair of 12.3-inch screens and a centre console with buttons arranged in pairs of four, mimicking the V8 engine’s layout.
All that luxury, performance, quality and efficiency comes at a price, though. A big price. Nearly £174,000 to be exact. If you can afford it, it’s worth it – but as we mentioned above, the plug-in hybrid Porsche Panamera maybe gives you just a little extra everyday usability for your cash.