2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance has sports car-like power and F1 tech

Stately luxury sedan gets the AMG fast and furious treatment

Article content

Mercedes’ S-Class, the full-sized flagship sedan for the German automaker, has always been smooth, powerful, luxurious and, above all else, stately. As in required transportation for heads of state — presidents and prime ministers, ambassadors and oligarchs — the movers and shakers who would conduct business in supreme comfort from the back seats as they were chauffeured from appointment to appointment.

But sports car-like power and limpet-like handling? Formula One technology? What form of lunacy is this? Sheer madness for sure, unless it is Mercedes’ AMG performance subsidiary getting its hands on the car, in which case it simply becomes the 2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance. This makes it the third model to carry AMG’s E Performance designation, after the C 63 S E Performance and the GT 63 S E Performance.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The Power and the Glory

Like the other two, The E in the S 63’s name is the giveaway as to what makes this special. In essence, what AMG has done is put one of its hand-built, 603-horsepower 4.0L V8s at the front of the car — no surprise there — while adding a 188-hp electric motor at the back. (By placing it at the rear, it bypasses the nine-speed transmission and converts its energy into immediate propulsion.) Together, they put out a combined 791 hp and an astounding 1,055 lb-ft of torque, making the S 63 E Performance the fastest, most powerful S-Class ever constructed. How fast? Zero to 100 km/h in just 3.3 seconds, a time quicker than most sports cars (Aston Martin’s new 671-hp DB12 clocks in at 3.6 seconds, the Ferrari Roma in 3.4). Now keep in mind the car weighs nearly 2,600 kilograms.

Advertisement 3

Article content

As might be expected, the focus of the hybrid powertrain is less about electric range — just 33 km using European standards (your mileage may vary) — and more about best-in-class performance. With 791 hp of system output and 1,055 lb-ft of system torque, the sedan sets new standards in the segment.

2024 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance 13 bHarper
2024 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance Photo by Brian Harper

This positioning of the electric motor imbues the S 63 E with a more ideal weight balance, aiding the 5.3-metre-long sedan’s agility, which was fully explored on Malibu’s numerous and snaky canyon roads. Standard systems such as the AMG Ride Control+ suspension, AMG Active Ride Control roll stabilization and rear-axle steering (a maximum of three degrees) ensured phenomenal grip, seemingly shrinking the four-door to a more manageable size as sweepers, hairpins and blind corners were tackled with delicious abandon. Picture Jason Statham’s Frank Martin (aka The Transporter) in a new installment of the action-adventure franchise. Picture our normally grim hero smiling at his new ride.

Advertisement 4

Article content

But Mercedes has also assured that its über-quick flagship is fully capable of taking a walk on the mild side. Seven AMG Dynamic Select modes — Electric, Comfort, Battery Hold, Sport, Sport+, Slippery and Individual — are precisely tailored to the new drive technology, allowing wide latitude between limo-like serenity in Electric and vehicular hooliganism in Sport+. The driver also has control over the energy recuperation, with four different levels ranging from maximum one-pedal efficiency at one end and minimum resistance while coasting at the other.

Sound experience during electric driving

Advertisement 5

Article content

Interestingly, when driving in Electric mode, the S 63 E’s Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System issues a low-frequency and speed-modulated sound outside — the sound can also be heard at a subdued level inside as “acoustic feedback” for the passengers. The system is active up to approximately 30 km/h, fading out above that. However, the electric driving sound can also be experienced at higher speeds, the driver merely pushing a button — identified by the frequency wave symbol — on the steering wheel.

The S 63 Performance E’s P3 hybrid system

The 188 hp electric motor is positioned at the rear axle, where it is integrated with an electrically shifted two-speed transmission and the electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential to form a compact electric drive unit (EDU), the whole kaboodle generally referred to as a P3 hybrid setup. The high-performance battery is also located in the rear above the rear axle. The advantage of this EDU position, says Mercedes, is a bypassing of the V8’s nine-speed transmission. As it is positioned behind the transmission, the torque of both drive units can be fully utilized. The result: 1,055 lb-ft of system torque.

Advertisement 6

Article content

Several other advantages of the P3 system as a Performance hybrid (according to Mercedes):

  • The P3 concept makes it possible to boost electrically at full torque across the entire rpm range.
  • The electric motor acts directly on the rear axle and can therefore convert its power more directly into propulsion for that extra boost when taking off, accelerating or overtaking.
  • In addition, the driver immediately experiences a noticeable performance increase thanks to the electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential: the hybrid model accelerates out of bends with great enthusiasm.
  • In the event of slip at the rear axle, the drive power from the V8 and electric motor is transferred to the front wheels as required. This is made possible by mechanical connection of the fully variable all-wheel drive by means of the prop shaft and drive shafts of the front wheels. It also makes it feasible to drive purely electrically with all-wheel drive.
  • The two-speed transmission at the rear axle shifts automatically. With its specially tuned gear ratio, it ensures a combination of high wheel torque for agile starting and smooth, continuous performance at higher speeds. An electric actuator engages second gear at around 140 km/h, which corresponds to the electric motor’s maximum speed of around 13,500 rpm.

Advertisement 7

Article content

2024 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance 02 bHarper
2024 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance Photo by Brian Harper

The F1 connection: the AMG high-performance battery

The AMG high-performance battery sees the development of the lithium-ion energy storage system inspired by technologies found in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Team’s F1 race cars. F1 engine manufacturer High Performance Powertrains (HPP) collaborated with Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach, Germany. The AMG battery combines high power with low weight to enhance the car’s overall performance. Added to this are the fast energy draw and the high power density. The S 63 E Performance battery has a capacity of 13.1 kWh, more than twice as much as the HPB 80. It delivers 70 kW of continuous mechanical power and 140 kW of peak mechanical power (for 10 seconds) to the electric motor. External charging takes place via the 3.7 kW onboard AC charger, at a charging station, wallbox or household socket.

Advertisement 8

Article content

Direct cooling of the battery cells

The basis for the high performance of the AMG 400-volt battery is direct cooling: A high-tech coolant based on an electrically non-conductive liquid flows around all 1200 cells and cools them individually. For direct cooling, the AMG team had to develop new cooling modules of millimetric thickness. Around 14 litres of coolant circulate from top to bottom through the entire battery and past each cell, with the help of a specially developed high-performance electric pump. In the process, the coolant also flows through an oil/water heat exchanger attached directly to the battery. This conducts the heat into one of the two low‑temperature circuits (LT) of the vehicle. From there, it goes on to the LT cooler at the front of the S 63, which releases the heat into the outside air. The result is that the battery is always within a consistent, optimum operating temperature window averaging 45C, no matter how often it is charged or discharged.

Advertisement 9

Article content

A tweak here, a tweak there

The good stuff is all underneath the car, but the Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance’s exterior also gets some styling tweaks. For the first time, an S-Class sedan bears the AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical louvres and a large central star. The previous Mercedes star on the front has been replaced by the AMG emblem in silver chrome/black. In addition, the front fascia gets larger air inlets. In profile, the 21-inch AMG forged wheels and the AMG-specific side sill panels are particularly pronounced. At the rear, the trapezoidal, fluted twin tailpipes and the diffuser are characteristic cues of 63 versions.

2024 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance 10 handout
2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance Photo by Mercedes-Benz

Elegant interior with “First-Class” rear seats

The four-seater interior combines the luxe appointments of the S-Class with AMG-specific features, starting with seats with special AMG upholstery and distinctive stitching. Rear-seat passengers can chill out in multi-contour seats. Added to this are AMG-specific trim elements and the standard AMG Performance steering wheel with AMG steering wheel buttons.

Advertisement 10

Article content

The MBUX infotainment system includes various AMG- and hybrid-specific displays and functions. These include the displays in the instrument cluster, on the multimedia central display in the centre console and the optional head-up display. The instrument cluster view can be personalized with different displays and individually selectable main views. In AMG-specific Supersport, the menu can offer hybrid-specific temperatures, or display the current settings for the suspension or transmission. In addition, Supersport-style drivers can also have a navigation map, fuel consumption data or all the telemetric data available in AMG Track Pace displayed.

The head-up display also offers AMG’s own display styles such as Race and Supersport. Clear, high-resolution graphics in the multimedia display visualize the power flow of the drive system, speed, output, torque and temperature of the electric motor, as well as the battery temperature.

Advertisement 11

Article content

2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance 09 Handout
2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance Photo by Mercedes-Benz

Pricing and Competition

The S 63 E Performance will be available sometime during the first quarter of 2024. Pricing will be announced closer to its debut. That said, with the current non-AMG S580 LWB hovering around $160,000, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see an MSRP of $200K or more for Mercedes-AMG’s newest sport/luxury sedan. At that price, there’s more than a few high-dollar, big-horsepower, full-size competitors to consider — gas-, hybrid- and electric powered — starting with rival BMW and its 760i/i7 M70 models. Audi also has skin in the game with either the RS e-tron GT or S8. Ditto Porsche and its Taycan Turbo S or Panamera Turbo S. Non-German competition can come from the likes of Lexus (LS 500h), Bentley (Flying Spur) or even Genesis (G90).

Mercedes-AMG teases the S 63 E Performance, stating that no matter how you choose to drive it, it will feel like nothing you’ve ever driven before. That’s less hyperbole than a flat-out fact, though. The S-Class has always been on the top rung among luxury sedans, a well curated blend of opulence, comfort and technology. With the E Performance, you can add controlled fury.

Pros

Built like a tank, accelerates like a sports car
An almost absurd amount of safety technology
 Exemplary ride comfort

Cons

 Big bucks
Is a near 800-hp luxury sedan really necessary?
 Limited range in Electric mode

Brian Harper picture

Brian Harper

Brian is the retired deputy editor of National Post’s Post Driving automotive section, with more than 40 years covering various aspects of the automotive business. A regular contributor to Driving.ca, he is also a founding member of AJAC.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Join the Conversation