New Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance to pack 804bhp V8 plug-in powertrain

The new flagship SL 63 S E Performance is the most powerful Mercedes-AMG roadster yet

This is the new top-spec Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance. Typically, top-spec AMG SLs of former generations might have employed the use of a V12 engine, but as a devotee of excess you’ll be glad to know the new V8-powered top-spec SL has not been caught short in terms of power, whatever the cylinder count. That’s because its new model features an 804bhp hybrid-assisted powertrain that makes it both the quickest and most powerful SL yet. 

Building on the existing SL range that already includes the V8-powered SL 55 and SL 63 S, the new E Performance is based on the latter, coming with an additional rear-mounted hybrid module that helps create its headline power figure. This is the same unit that’s already been introduced in AMG’s C 63 and S 63 models, combining a 200bhp e-motor with a two-speed transmission and limited slip differential all packaged into the rear axle. 

Power is drawn from a small and extremely power-dense 6.1kWh battery, which has been designed to expel and recuperate energy as quickly as possible on its 400V electrical system, rather than provide any meaningful all-electric range. The battery can be topped up via a 3.7kW on-board charger, and when operating in e-mode is capable of around 8 miles of engine-off drive. Power from the e-motor is delivered directly to the rear axle in most scenarios, but can be sent up to the front wheels if the car’s complex all-wheel drive system deems it necessary. 

This joins AMG’s M177 twin-turbocharged V8 engine under the bonnet, which itself produces 603bhp and 850Nm of torque, driving through its own nine-speed automatic transmission that features a wet-clutch on take off. 

It’s this complex combination of powertrain elements which creates the 804bhp figure, with a total 1,420Nm of total system torque produced alongside. However, as with AMG’s other E Performance models, these peak figures are only available for temporary spurts on overboost, such as when on full-throttle or in launch mode. This still gives the SL supercar-level performance, though, with a 2.9 second 0-62mph time and 196mph top speed. Mercedes-AMG has also revealed economy data for the new model, claiming up to 36mpg and a 175g/km CO2 rating.

Yet AMG’s powertrain engineers aren’t the only ones that have been busy on the new SL,, as the chassis has just as much cutting-edge hardware packed under its svelte roadster body. Keeping the SL’s mass in check are hydraulically cross-linked adaptive dampers that have a semi-active anti-roll function. This system replaces traditional anti-roll bars, and gives far more adjustability to the suspension depending on the conditions and selected driver mode. These work with traditional coil springs – another change from former generations of AMG SLs which featured air-suspension. 

There’s also a rear-wheel steering system which will apply lock in the opposite direction to the front axle at low speeds, switching to steering with the front wheels at high speeds. AMG’s largest set of carbon ceramic brakes are fitted as standard, with 420mm front and 380mm rear discs, running six and single piston calipers on each. The friction brakes also work with four-stage regenerative braking which, thanks to the high performance of the battery package, can accept up to 100kW of recuperation.

Being based on an all-new AMG-designed aluminium-intensive chassis, the current SL now shares its architecture with the more sporting AMG GT. This allows it to squeeze two small seats inside the cabin as well as the folding fabric roof and its mechanism. With so much hardware packed into a relatively compact footprint, however, the kerb weight is expected to be well over two tonnes – no official weight figure has yet been released.

Beyond a set of new red-backed badging and a rear-bumper mounted charge, there’s little to tell the new flagship apart from lesser SL models. What we can’t see is a subtly reshaped underbody with active aero elements that help with cooling around the rear axle. The cabin is also unchanged.

Local pricing for the SL 63 S E Performance is yet to be confirmed, but we expect it will top £200,000 when it arrives next year. We also expect this powertrain to soon be available in the new GT, joining the new six-cylinder CLE 53 in AMG’s rapidly expanding high performance hybrid range.

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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