by Karl Furlong
Having already launched the S500 and S580 variants of the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class for more gentlemanly, country club types, Mercedes-AMG has now revealed a hotter S-Class for those who probably prefer to spend their spare time engaging in high-intensity combat sports. This is the 2023 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance, a full-size luxury sedan that aims to knock out all rivals with its 791-horsepower hybridized powertrain. That makes it the most powerful S-Class of all time, by the way, and far more powerful than any current version of the Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series.
Although it can still play the role of a supremely luxurious cruiser, the S63 is all about technical highlights like its active rear-axle steering, rear electric motor, twin-turbo V8, and active roll stabilization. A brawny AMG design makeover announces the S63 as the only S-Class that can hit 60 in 3.2 seconds. Yes, this is no longer an understated sleeper.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG S63 E Performance 4MATIC+ Sedan||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Plug-in Hybrid
It's not clear exactly when the super sedan will be coming out, but we anticipate that the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance's release date will be sometime in the first half of 2023, as Mercedes has announced it will launch as a 2023 model year variant.
Although we don't have a price for the 2023 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance yet, we have little doubt that it will be more expensive than the previous, non-hybrid S63. That car carried an MSRP of $151,600 in the USA, but the new plug-in hybrid S63 E Performance is a much more advanced car, so we wouldn't be surprised to see it come in at around $180,000.
Traditional rivals BMW and Audi don't have a large sedan to match the new S63. A more powerful 7 Series than the current 760i will be needed to match this. But there is another ultra-powerful hybrid sedan in the full-size segment, and that's the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive. It makes a combined 690 hp and is slightly quicker than the S63 E, but its cost is a staggering $206,800.
A little less S-Class, a little more AMG. If anything sums up the exterior design of the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance relative to its predecessor, it's probably that. Whereas the old S63 looked like a mildly more aggressive S-Class, the new S63 E Performance comes with the AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical louvers for the first time. In the center of the grille is the large, aggressive AMG emblem in either chrome or black, replacing the daintier Mercedes hood ornament that used to rest on the hood.
Staying in front, there is a fascia with a jet-wing design that's unique to the AMG, along with large side air inlets and functional air curtains. While 20-inch alloy wheels are standard, 21-inch forged AMG wheels will be available. AMG-specific side sill panels are also visible here. At the back, the S63 E Performance has trapezoidal, fluted twin-tailpipes and a wide diffuser with longitudinal fins and a diffuser board.
While the S63 E has plenty of presence, there was something uniquely appealing about the old S63 in the way it could blow away many sports cars while appearing nearly as low-key as any other S-Class. The new one's aggression is in line with AMG tradition, but it may have lost some of the elegance we'd associate with Merc's luxury sedan.
The colors of the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance are unknown, but it should inherit many of the standard S-Class's shades like Obsidian Black, Graphite Grey, Cirrus Silver, and Rubellite Red.
Although US-specific dimensions for the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance are said to be coming at a later stage, they're unlikely to differ much from the 210.1-inch length, 75.6-inch width, and 59.6-inch height of the Euro-spec model that was revealed. Like the standard S-Class, the S63 E Performance shares the same 126.6-inch wheelbase.
No American curb weight figure was supplied, but Euro-spec models weigh in at 5,720 lbs. Depending on its USDM spec, variations will occur, but that's still the ballpark figure to look at - this is no lightweight sports sedan.
The gradual electrification of the Mercedes-AMG brand continues with the most powerful S-Class. The engine in the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance PHEV will be familiar to any AMG fan, though: it's a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 603 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque on its own. That torque figure is on tap between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm.
Those outputs match the old S63, but the ace up the new car's sleeve is its rear permanently excited synchronous electric motor, which adds another 188 hp and 236 lb-ft. Combined, the outputs are a spectacular 791 hp and 1,055 lb-ft.
With the variable AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system sending power to all four wheels and continuously varying the front/rear torque split, the S63 E Performance can complete the 0-60 mph sprint in a mere 3.2 seconds before reaching a limited top speed of 180 mph. Although that's just a few tenths quicker than the old S63, any gains at this level are to be admired.
The V8 is hooked up to the AMG Speedshift MCT 9G transmission, which is an automatic with a wet multi-disc start-off clutch. Like the Porsche Taycan, the rear-mounted electric motor uses a two-speed transmission that helps deliver both agile starts and continuous performance at high speeds. An electric actuator will automatically engage second gear at around 87 mph.
Optimized for performance rather than range, the high-performance 13.1-kWh battery - which features direct cooling of the battery cells - can deliver 94 hp of continuous mechanical power and 188 hp of peak mechanical power, although the latter is only for ten-second intervals.
The enormous complexity of the drivetrain doesn't end there, as there are no less than seven AMG drive modes to choose from: Electric, Comfort, Battery Hold, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, and Individual. The all-electric drive mode functions up to 87 mph, while Sport+, at the other end of the spectrum, primes the car's suspension, steering, and powertrain for maximum performance.
More than just a straight-line monster, the new S63 E Performance has been optimized to handle as well as can reasonably be expected of a sedan of this size. Central to this is the P3 hybrid layout with the V8 in front and the electric motor at the back, a configuration that improves weight distribution. Also located above the rear axle is the high-performance battery, and there is an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. For the first time in an AMG-badged S-Class, air suspension has been combined with rear-axle steering and active roll stabilization. The latter compensates for body movements electromechanically instead of with rigid anti-roll bars, and the AMG control system can adjust the vehicle status continuously - up to 500 times per second.
With the rear-axle steering, turn-in is more agile and maneuverability is increased. Naturally, there is a powerful braking system with six-piston front calipers, but a ceramic composite brake system is available. It should all add up to a car that is both exceptionally comfortable but also dynamically talented when you want it to be.
Just because this is a plug-in hybrid, you should not expect great gas mileage. Even the automaker admits that the 13.1-kWh battery has been set up for maximum performance rather than range. No range estimates or gas mileage claims have been made yet, so we'll have to wait for the EPA's official mpg ratings. However, in Europe (under WLTP measurements), the S 63 E Performance plug-in hybrid has an electric range of only 20.5 miles.
For reference, the old S63 returned 20 mpg combined.
As with the range, charging times are unknown, but customers can use either a 3.7-kW onboard AC charger, a faster charging station, a wallbox, or a regular household socket.
There are four selectable regeneration modes, Levels 0 to 3, with Level 3 making one-pedal driving possible, much as it would be in an EV.
Both luxurious and sporty, the interior of the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance has been enhanced with several AMG-specific touches. For the driver, that starts with the AMG Performance steering wheel in a twin-spoke design. It houses the gearshift paddles and includes buttons for the AMG Drive Unit.
The advanced MBUX multimedia system comes with AMG- and hybrid-specific displays, extending to the instrument cluster and the head-up display. The latter has both Race and Supersport views, and drivers can view telemetry data from the AMG Track Pace MBUX app.
As with the infotainment system, the safety suite will satiate the appetite of even the most technology-obsessed customers. Distronic, essentially Merc's version of adaptive cruise control, has been improved with collision-avoidance reaction to stationary road users at speeds of up to 62 mph. The active steering assist system now includes lane detection with a 360-degree camera, and traffic sign assist will now warn you if you are on course to run a stop sign. Attention assist, meanwhile, has a new micro-sleep warning function that analyzes the driver's eyelid movements via a display-mounted camera.
These features are all good and well, but it wouldn't be an S-Class if it didn't envelope its occupants in luxury inside, especially in the second row. To that end, the sumptuous seats in the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance have unique AMG upholstery and can be optioned with various Nappa leathers. Multicontour seats for all four occupants are available, but we expect the permanent rear center console to be optionally removed to make room for a fifth passenger.
The cargo space in the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance measures a mere 10.8 cubic feet, which is small for such a large sedan but likely a result of the rear-mounted motor and high-performance battery. Then again, the standard S-Class's trunk is only slightly larger at 12.9 cubes, so Mercedes has clearly prioritized rear-seat comfort over cargo space. The company did state that US-specific specs for the S63 E Performance are still to follow, though, so the 10.8-cube figure here may be slightly different.
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