Mercedes AMG GT 63 S E Performance review: Torque monster

    This hybrid monster gets AMG’s F1 tech and puts out 843hp and an almost electric supercar-like 1,470Nm of torque.

    Published on Apr 28, 2023 01:58:00 PM

    17,825 Views

    We Like
    • Supercar matching pace
    • AMG V8 loaded with character
    We Don't Like
    • Battery, motor eat into bootspace
    • Hybrid tech expensive

    Merc’s performance car sub-brand AMG has come a long way from its early days. A company born on the racetrack and one that started making road cars with crazy engine swaps, AMG today has become nothing less than an extra limb for Mercedes-Benz. It not only runs the Formula 1 team and makes high-performance versions of everyday Mercs, but it also makes its own cars that are not based on regular Mercedes models

    Its first bespoke car was the gull-winged SLS, followed by its replacement – the two-door GT – and then came the earlier version of this car, the four-door GT. Now, AMG has used its Formula 1 tech to bring us this version of the four-door GT, one that bristles with Formula 1 hybrid-derived tech. That this car puts out a combined 843hp is remarkable in itself. What, however, makes it even more epic is an almost electric supercar-like 1,470Nm of torque.

    But just how good is the GT in our challenging conditions? How comfortable is it over our roads? Can it handle our speed breakers, and can you put down and enjoy all that performance?

    Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance hybrid powertrain, gearbox

    The Mercedes AMG GT 63 S E Performance (yeah, that's the full name), is AMG’s first plug-in hybrid or PHEV. The plug-in system, however, isn’t here for efficiency. The electric motor delivers 204hp of extra kick. It is integrated with the rear axle and runs a lively 400-volt architecture for speedy transfer of electrons. In addition, it uses a two-speed gearbox so that it can deliver effective E-boost at both low and high road speeds.

    The 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 coupled with the hybrid system now puts out 843hp and 1470Nm.

    Electric power is stored in a small liquid-cooled 6.1kWh battery. Constantly topped up by the engine on the move, the F1-tech-inspired battery uses more than 560 cylindrical cells that are cooled at twice the speed of a regular battery. The pack is so compact, it is mounted atop the electric motor at the rear, so you get lightning-quick responses when torque fill is needed. Also improved is traction at the rear, due to the extra weight over the rear axle and better front and rear weight distribution.

    The battery pack and rear-mounted motor does eat into boot space, which now is only 335 litres, and since this is a plug-in, the battery can be topped up via a port on the right of the rear bumper. External charging occurs at only 3.6kW and the small capacity battery means there’s no need for DC charging. All the additional kit means the GT now weighs a considerable 460kg more at 2,380kg, but the electric boost also makes it marginally faster to 100kph.

    The heart of the car still remains the legendary M177 twin-turbo 4.0 V8. It sends power to both front and rear axles via the nine-speed automatic gearbox. To hasten shifts, AMG’s Speedshift MCT uses a wet clutch instead of a slower but smoother torque converter. The wet clutch suffers from less friction and wear than a dry clutch.

    Also upgraded is the air suspension. It uses multi-chamber springs and includes ‘independent’ damper control where individual valves control compression and rebound. Along with rear-wheel steering, this car also gets AMG’s Drift Mode where power is only sent to the rear axle for some rear-wheel-drive fun.

    Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance exterior, interior

    In terms of dimensions, it is similar to the non-hybrid GT. The front bumper is more fleshed out and you get some active aero. The wheels are the larger 22s and you get carbon ceramic brakes for better thermal management. Around the rear, what stands out is the red background to the badge.

    Squiggly button for EV exhaust sound.

    The biggest change on the inside is the addition of the new AMG steering wheel. The instrument panel gets new modes that inform about the functioning of the hybrid electric system, and the button that opens the baffles on the exhaust now also increases the space craft-like sound made for the EV system. The seats up front are large and very sporty. Lateral support is superb, they hold you well even on a track and the fact that they are easily adjustable makes them so much nicer to use.

    The rear seat is small and cushioning is hard but both leg- and headroom are quite decent.

    They aren’t particularly comfortable though – seat cushioning is relatively hard, there’s not much give in the seat and this is true of the rear seats as well, which are also sporty and not ideal for long commutes over bad roads. However, there’s a reasonable amount of space in the rear, and this car gets a central tunnel in the back with an info screen.

    Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance power, battery, range, ride and handling

    Now for the heart of the matter. But first up, let’s look at how it drives in EV mode. The electric-only range with the battery topped up is just 12km. Still, this is good if you want to potter around town and show the world a green pair of heels. To start you need to select EL mode on the AMG steering wheel, hit the start button and take off… just like you are driving an EV. It feels strange, especially when you know there’s a burly AMG V8 up front, but the power available is sufficient for downtown driving. The AMG even puts out an appropriate EV spaceship-like whine, a legal requirement in some countries.

    The car on its improved suspension also rides marginally better. It is a bit more compliant in Comfort and even manages to clamber over most speed-breakers quite well. It will thud over larger bumps and ridges, and coarse surfaces increase road noise disproportionately. Still, these don’t impact comfort levels so much and AMG’s GT is a great car in which to cruise the mean streets. It has plenty of street cred for sure, and should someone look at you funny at the red lights, you always know you can easily ‘smoke em’.

    There is a bit of hesitation at lower engine speeds. While the integration of the engine and motor is outstanding for the most part, there is some amount of hesitation and some mechanical ‘clack-clack’ at low engine speeds. This takes place mostly in the second and the third, especially when you are on and off the throttle.

    AMGs, however, aren’t for just pottering around and the real character of the car comes flooding through once the muscular V8 fires up. I initially get lost in AMG’s world of rolling thunder and pops and bangs, revelling in the fantastic soundtrack I’m playing with my right foot. But soon my attention shifts to the sledgehammer punch I’m experiencing every time I dip my right foot in. Now the standard non-hybrid GT is no slouch, and the bottom end certainly isn’t weedy.

    Still, the manner in which this E-performance instantly slams me in the back and then just thrusts me forward feels unreal. It’s all down to the 1,400Nm of torque that ‘clicks on’ as soon as I tap the throttle, and getting this spaceship to warp speed is just a flex of the right foot away. There's so much performance, even short bursts are addictive, and then as we head to more open roads, the step up in pace is just mega.

    The E- boost delivers instant acceleration everywhere.

    What’s it like when you give it more space to run around? Big, heavy and devastatingly fast. Pin your foot down, use launch control and all it takes to zing to 100kph is 2.9 seconds, which is crazy for a car of this weight. And what feels quicker still is that 200kph is breached in another six-odd seconds; the sound of thunder following closely in its wake. This feels crushingly quick even on a wide-open track. But it’s only when I open the taps on a regular highway that the real pace slams home – around 50kph to 120kph, for example, is dispatched faster than I can jump off the accelerator and every time I mash my foot down, I feel it run away and accelerate faster than I’ve strictly asked it to. On the right track, such as the Natrax facility outside Indore, this car will easily top 300kph, running all the way to 316kph.

    Around corners, AMG’s GT 63 S E Performance doesn't manage to hide its weight as well as it does in a straight line. And it doesn’t feel quite as agile as a non-hybrid-powered car either. Still, the steering is very quick, the GT turns in sharply for such a heavy car, there’s almost no understeer and it even changes direction smartly. What adds to the driving experience is that the steering feels reasonably weighty and the rear-wheel steering helps tuck it into corners neatly. You can even select drift mode, de-select the front axle and have a blast on a track or a private road.

    That said, this isn’t a car you look forward to chucking around. There is a degree of stodginess you can’t get away from, and then inevitably the driving style that works best is neat and tidy into corners, but brutal on the throttle on the way out.

    Aerofoil-like shape means you need the big spoiler to prevent lift.

    What also takes a toll on your confidence is that the brakes feel spongy. Yes, stopping power is great and the brakes bleed speed as soon as you hit them. But the pedal feel is poor due to the regen of the electric motor and that isn’t ideal. You can, however, adjust levels of regen, off the other knob on the steering wheel and, as a result, even one-pedal driving works well.

    Apart from AMG’s suite of driver assistance systems (AMG Dynamics) and the various drive modes, this car also gets an additional Slippery mode to help it deal with the dump of torque when it's wet. And AMG has also mapped the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida into its Track Pace onboard software that actually tells you how you are driving and even makes suggestions.

    Mercedes AMG GT 63 S E Performance price and verdict

    At a price of Rs 3.3 crore, the plug-in hybrid version of the GT four-door costs approximately Rs 60 lakh more than the earlier GT. Still, for the additional money, you get a lot. For one, there’s the ability to run in EV mode for short stretches, something most owners will really like. The Formula 1-derived hybrid system also nets you a massive step up in instant torque and response from the powertrain, and performance is supercar-like in a straight line.

    It even has the space, ability and plush cabin to seat four in comfort. And this new version even rides better. However, dynamics and handling are not nearly as sharp as the non-hybrid car. Yes, the GT 63 S E Performance still drives with the agility of something much lighter and it is loads of fun to drive hard, but the additional 460kg of hardware means it no longer drives like a two-door GT. Overall, however, that's a small price to pay for all the extra performance and green cred, exactly what you need in today’s day and age.

    Also see:

    Mercedes AMG GT 63 S E Performance video review

    Mercedes-Benz Cars

    Tech Specs

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