Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance

mercedes benz s63 review 2023 03 tracking front
Mercedes-AMG’s largest muscle-car limousine makes the big switch to plug-in hybrid power, for a captivating blend of refinement and accessible pace.

Odd though it might seem to some for the most luxurious, pampering limousine in the Mercedes-Benz range to serve as the basis for a rip-snorting performance car, the new Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance is part of a very long-running tradition, AMG having fettled every S-Class since the 1972 original.There is a major difference with the new seventh-generation model, though: where previously a big-displacement V8 or V12 worked alone, turbocharged or supercharged, here a new 4.0-litre V8 is electrically enhanced as part of a plug-in hybrid powertrain.This system is based on that used by the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance 4-Door Coupé, the main differences being a less powerful 188bhp (instead of 201bhp) electric motor on the rear axle and a larger (13.1 instead of 6.1kWh) battery under the boot floor. This combination provides the S63 with an extra 13 miles of electric-only range, although this still stands at just 20.5 miles, compared with 53- for the (admittedly much less potent) BMW M760e.Power and torque peak at 791bhp and 1055lb ft, or 179 and 391 more than the old 5.5-litre V8-engined S63, making this the most powerful S-Class yet. Unsurprisingly, though, it all comes with an additional 309kg to the kerb weight, at 2520kg.With AMG’s nine-speed automatic gearbox and fully variable four-wheel drive system deploying these enormous reserves, it can hit 62mph in a mere 3.3sec.All impressive figures, but can this larger and heavier S63 deliver similarly engaging performance and dynamics as its highly rated predecessor?There are seven driving modes, named Electric, Comfort, Battery Hold, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, and Individual, which gives the big saloon extraordinary breadth. In everyday driving, it’s Comfort that makes the most of the complex powertrain, relying on a combination of both petrol and electricity but always proving highly refined and urgent on the motorway, and giving the impression that there’s always a lot more in reserve.Extend the revs into the business end of the dial on a lonely road in Sport+ and there’s true sledgehammer performance in the best of AMG tradition, as the torque of the motor compensates for any fleeting pause as the turbos spool up to full force.Once they do, the S63 accelerates like a supercar as its 4Matic+ system and electronically controlled limited-slip differential work their magic, contributing to outstanding traction and terrific determination on a loaded throttle. However, the combination of two separate gearboxes and the 4Matic+ system doesn’t always manage to handle the heady reserves with the aplomb we’ve come to expect from an AMG. We felt some unruly shunt, both at low speeds and at a faster lick out of town.Aurally, it’s a mixed bag. There’s a genuine burble to the V8, but the motor noise played over the internal stereo is very contrived. Thankfully, it can be turned off.AMG Ride Control suspension with specially tuned air springs, active roll stabilisation and a rear-steering system (up to 3deg) together do a mighty job of controlling body movement and making the S63 genuinely agile. As such, over flowing roads, it feels considerably smaller and lither than its dimensions and weight suggest.There’s an underlying firmness that, in combination with the 225/40 (front) and 285/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres, leads to a good deal of roar over less-than-smooth roads.  At the same time, though, there’s sufficient shock absorption to ensure that the S63 never becomes harsh or unrefined.  So, the S63 is a complex car; but once you’ve dialled yourself in, it displays a very convincing set of driving characteristics. It’s also more practical and, with typically S-Class interior appointments, more special to travel in than the GT 63.It’s a different kind of S63, for sure, but one that delivers on traditional strengths in a new and captivating way.
Source: Autocar

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