► 843bhp combined power► The best AMG in a long time
► Finally delivers AMG emotion
The AMG GT63S E-Performance is the most ‘AMG’ AMG Affalterbach has ever made, though it uses a mixture of petrol and electricity – not outright V8 brawn. This mighty plug-in hybrid uses its 204bhp electric motor almost exclusively to boost power and torque to record heights. The result? 843bhp, 1084 ft lb of King Kong torque, and an AMG GT63S E-Performance that still succeeds in massaging all the glands that matter to the rich enthusiast. It’s a slab of vintage yet forward-thinking Affalterbach that ticks all the relevant boxes, opens the adrenalin floodgates and stirs more old-fashioned emotions than the greenest 1000bhp-plus electric supercar.
What’s the interior like?
Jump in and marvel at the quilted leather landscape which injects a Maybach touch of class to the suddenly sumptuous world of AMG. The level of craftsmanship astonishes, and so does the complexity of the operation which suggests that the post PlayStation generation is already in the market for this superpower CLS/S-class hybrid. Just about the only task the latest polytech-certified MMI system cannot perform is fry eggs or serve a cup of tea.
It will however display the car´s propulsion antics in animated widescreen technicolour depth, run different kinds of go-faster scenarios past you, and access more submenus than a NASA mainframe computer. Truly annoying is the five-spoke steering-wheel which harbours the shift paddles, two large rotary controls and an overkill selection of tiny capacitive touch, slide and push areas. In a nutshell, this cockpit answers questions only very few users would ask, and it complicates simple tasks by prioritizing the full, digital monty over an intuitive direct-access approach. So much, so 2022, then.
What’s it like to drive?
The AMG GT63S E-Performance always starts up in Comfort aka Efficiency. There are six more steps to climb on the AMG stairway to heaven: Electric, Winter, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual. Lock the drivetrain in Sport+ for inspiring throttle response and shift action, or try Sport for a wide middle ground in terms of chassis competence and steering action
The unmistakable soundtrack is tightly knit but after a while, one learns to separate the turbo, wastegate, intake and exhaust. A spine-tingling stuff symphony, especially when combined with the full-throttle forward thrust which pins the neck to the head restraint.
The 2.9sec 0-62mph acceleration time puts the GT-S E-Performance firmly in high-end Porsche and Ferrari territory, but there is more to come. Like the ten-second overboost afterburner effect which summons maximum power and torque. The maximum output of 843bhp and 1470Nm is exclusively available in this brief fangs bared mode. At all other times, the 4.0litre V8 peaks at 748bhp and 848ft lbs which is still very impressive but no longer totally hyper-mega-wild.
Electric drive is active up to 80mph, but only very briefly. In real life, the claimed zero-emission range of 7.5miles is barely sufficient for a silent early morning tip-toe out of the gated community where a run-of-the-mill 11kW wallbox should have charged the briefcase-size battery pack overnight.
Although the regeneration system will in stage four feed up to 100kW of excess energy back to the batteries, the one pedal mode is an acquired taste even in stop-and-go traffic. On the autobahn, the theoretical top speed of 198mph keeps clashing with reality now that soaring petrol prices have slowed down the flow for good.
An extended electric range might have helped to close the yawning social acceptance gap, but it´s too late now for such a fundamental change, and the third model generation currently under development will be exclusively battery-powered anyway, so if it wasn´t for the embarrassing fuel economy (the test car averaged 10.3mpg or 27.4l/100km) one should perhaps simply enjoy one of the old world´s finest pieces of kit before a litre of petrol costs more than a bottle of top-notch claret.
We have driven plenty of fine AMG products over time and W124-based so-called Hammer aside nothing comes close to the red overachiever featured here. It musters more bottom-end grunt, mid-range urge and high-rpm explosivity than any of its rivals, its expertly honed suspension enhances the ride quality without sacrificing any dynamic strength, the handling is entertaining, and the advanced software makes extreme speeds a lot safer and thus more accessible.
Any nose-heavy rear-wheel drive tyre-eater can play Smokey the Bandit all day long, but very few top-league entrants fuse two souls, sportscar and GT, with random instant access to both talents, either individually or in sync.