An elephant can be taught to dance; getting it to want to is the real challenge. Not that we’re drawing comparisons between the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance and the largest and most powerful land mammal in the world, but the Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2023 is undeniably similar in that it weighs around 5500 pounds, is 17.5 feet long, and has about 800 horsepower. The Selenite Grey Magno glossy paint on our test vehicle significantly strengthens the comparison.
The first Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 “Red Pig” of the 1970s was the first AMG vehicle to defy the laws of physics. Fortunately, this practise has continued for decades. Even the most resilient species, however, must evolve; for the S63 E Performance, this entails the 4.0-liter 603-hp twin-turbo V-8’s addition of an electric motor and an F1-derived battery. A reported 791 horsepower may be generated by them both.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicle requires a significant amount of intricate choreography to ensure that it moves beautifully. At the risk of oversimplifying, the technology, known as a “P3 hybrid,” offers rapid torque from a stop for quicker launches and, if driven carefully, a smoother disposition about town. The AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system conducts a two-step and switches output to the front wheels via an electronically regulated clutch pack in the case of rear axle wheel slide. Similarly, 4Matic+ offers all-wheel drive when the S63 is powered only by its electric motor.
The 10.5-kWh battery is based on the lithium-ion energy storage technology found in the Formula 1 hybrid race vehicles driven by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and was created in collaboration with UK-based F1 engine manufacturer High Performance Powertrains (HPP). Thanks to an improved cooling circuit, it can maintain high current flow while enduring the strain and heat buildup of repeated rapid discharge and recharge cycles. It is relatively light and compact.
The battery is kept at an ideal temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit by the cooling system, which circulates liquid around all 1200 cells before it enters a heat exchanger that is directly attached to the battery and then travels to another exchanger in the front of the car. A safety system is in place to lower output if temperatures stray too far from the ideal range and to protect the battery from quick deterioration.
There are four degrees of onboard regeneration available, from almost freewheeling Level 0 to nearly one-pedal Level 3, which, depending on driving conditions, can return over 90 kilowatts of energy to the battery. We discovered that Level 2 was the ideal setting for relaxing cruising and Level 0 was the best option for navigating the Santa Monica Mountains’ winding, narrow roads. It’s interesting to note that according to AMG, the 3.7-kW onboard AC charger is the sole way to fully charge the battery. Once more, the battery is designed for quick power delivery rather than for incredibly efficient runs, and the regeneration algorithms take this—as well as battery longevity—into account.