Mercedes-AMG GT63 S E Performance 2023 UK first drive

Mercedes AMG GT63 S E Performance 001 cornering front

As if the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 4dr’s 630bhp V8 wasn’t enough, they’ve added a 201bhp electric motor, too

As I write I’ve just spent a couple of hours in central London, during which my expensive Mercedes spotto count read: G-Classes seven, AMG GT 4 -Door Coupés nil.

Only anecdotal evidence, I know. But there are only ever a few used GT 4-Doors in the classifieds, too, and tell me, reader, have you ever seen one?

I can’t shake the feeling that AMG’s bespoke coupé-saloon (technically a five-door hatchback), introduced in 2018, is a very rare groove, a niche option. But if you prefer to roll around in a G-Class then I think you’re missing out.

So far we’ve had the 63 S variant in the UK, plus the less powerful 63, now dropped but continuing abroad. British buyers like high-spec cars so we’ve settled on the one with 630bhp from its 4.0-litre V8, and a price of £153,755.

That’s now joined by this £177,715 variant, the 63 S E Performance, which keeps the V8 in the same tune and gains another 201bhp from an electric motor mounted at the back axle for a combined 831bhp. That makes it the second-most-powerful AMG behind the One hypercar.

I would say 831bhp in a big coupé/hatchback thing ought to be plenty. The most powerful comparable Audi RS, BMW M and Porsche models don’t get that close.

The 63 S E Performance is a pluggable hybrid. On top of the motor is a 6.1kWh battery. It gives just 7.5 miles of electric-only range because, say the engineers, it’s more about performance than distance.On that point, this car will do 0-62mph in 2.9sec (0.3sec faster than the 63 S) and go on to 196mph (the same), while the combined economy test, often ultra-generous to PHEVs, rates it at just 35.8mpg.

From a practicality standpoint (I know you’re worried about it), the electric gubbins at the rear, including a two-speed gearbox for the electric motor, eats into the boot floor, reducing luggage capacity from 461 to 335 litres. Maybe that’s why everyone buys a G-Class instead. But probably not.

Kerb weight understandably takes a hike from 2205kg to 2494kg, so the PHEV gets carbon-ceramic brakes the 63 S is denied.

Inside, this being a variant of a car that arrived in the previous decade, you won’t find Mercedes’ very latest infotainment system, which means it retains a trackpad on the centre console and has a transmission tunnel busy with buttons for driving functions. That said, the steering wheel is updated to the latest split-spoke kind, including rotary drive mode selectors. The inclusion of an ‘electric’ mode as you scroll through them is a rare obvious note that this is the PHEV rather than a pure-ICE car.

That fact is rather more obvious on the move, as you would hope. My hour-long test started with a nearly flat battery, so I can’t tell you much about electric-only driving other than it’s smooth. But even when the battery is depleted, the 63 S E Performance will still gain some charge under braking, which it then uses to aid throttle response.


For torque filing, this is rather nice. There’s no need to stir the gearshift paddles or wait for the turbochargers to spool. At 158bhp per litre, the V8 isn’t overly stressed by modern standards, but it still takes a moment to wake up. Here, there’s urgency right away, yet it comes with a live-wire burble and crackle of the V8, which the motor first drags along, then accompanies and later gets left behind by.

The best of all worlds, then? I’m not so sure. Certainly the ride and handling still retain a blend and balance that’s easy to rub a long with. There’s a firmness to the ride in bespoke AMG models that you don’t find in heated-up CLS or E-Class variants, which is both understandable and desirable. But although it has been a while since I drove a standard GT 4-Door, I can’t shake the feeling that this PHEV, as is commensurate with its 289kg weight premium, has less of the deftness and flow that allowed the pure-V8 variant to score five stars for ride and handling in our road test (it got 4.5 stars overall).

Besides, it’s not like the regular 63 S, reported to be nearing the peak of its performance potential back in 2019, is tardy. There’s a natural, predictable response to it, even if it doesn’t have the instant electrified urge of the 63 S E Performance.

But this is still a sensationally likeable car, and if you do some short urban commuting that you would love to perform electrically, fill your boots. Otherwise, I think they would be equally filled by the 63 S. 

Source: Autocar

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