The most accurate point of Stuttgart is the answer to the great challenge of Zuffenhausen. Mercedes-AMG GT 63 SE Performance 4Matic+ wants to compete with the Porsche Panamera Turbo SE Hybrid, and not just in terms of model name length. In the first round, when studying the technical data, the Stuttgart team wins. With 620 kW (843 hp), the GT 63 SE outperforms the Panamera’s 700 hp and becomes the most powerful (Series) Mercedes-AMG ever. Not wearing the crown for long, the Hypercar One – the final version of which will be presented in mid-May – has already made its claim.
AMG draws its massive power from two power sources: a four-liter V8 biturbo engine with 470 kW (639 hp) and a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor. While these numbers are impressive, they are only the smallest version of the performance profile. The most exciting data for the GT 63 SE Performance relates to the maximum torque of the system’s performance, which is 1,400 Nm. To be clear: even the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid achieves only 850 Nm.
In the fight against gravity
Unfortunately, in fact, when you combine these driving forces with a five-person cabin, it also results in very indecent weight numbers. Mercedes-AMG states that the car has a gross weight of 2,380 kilograms, so you can not beat the competitor from Zuffenhausen. But at Affalterbach, everything is done to keep the effects of such a mass on driving behavior as small as possible. Weight distribution with the twin-turbo V8 directly above the front axle and the electric motor – including the battery – on the rear axle provides good conditions. This design was not driven solely by mass distribution. Most modern hybrid cars place their electric motor between the combustion engine and the transmission. However, this architecture required compromises in terms of performance or torque,” explains Jochen Hermann, Technical Director at AMG. “With electric components on the rear axle, we weren’t constrained by the transmission limitations.”
AMG is particularly proud of its 400-volt battery, which has a high energy density (1.7 kWh/kg, twice as much as before). At first glance, one wonders about the effort when the factory limits the electric range to only 12 kilometers. But it soon becomes clear that this is a well-thought-out decision: the group was sacrificed in favor of driving performance. The 560 cells can be kept at their ideal operating temperature (about 45 degrees), which allows them to withstand the worst form of torture: rapid charge and discharge cycles. Traditional energy storage is designed for slow (once per day) charge and discharge sequences, and GT 63 SE Performance batteries handle more than 20-per minute! Mercedes insisted that the discharged energy storage should not become a dead ballast. The battery can recover up to 100 kW of power when braking so that the performance of the entire system is always available. In race mode, the V8 also revs a little higher to keep the batteries happy. Owners who are in no hurry can connect the German coupe to a 3.7 kW socket, which will recharge the 6.1 kWh battery in less than two hours.
The first thing that struck us on our first test drive was the coupe’s inconspicuous hood cover for the charging connector, which really indicates how little the GT 63 SE’s performance differs from the non-electrified twin. Coincidentally sharp eyes should remain in red S and E Performance on the side vent grilles.
There aren’t many hints inside, on the contrary: everything is identical to the better-behaved GT 43 and GT 53. Mercedes would also not be advised to experience this typical cockpit. Materials such as leather, Alcantara and carbon fiber inlays are preferable, even if the ergonomics have not yet reached perfection. We especially think about the steering wheel loaded with redundant functionality, which requires a certain amount of getting used to. The designers also included two rotary switches, but they can not only be moved up and down, their function also changes when the central touch screen is pressed. Thus the driver can program any driving mode, the degree of energy recovery, the angle of the rear wing, the power delivery, the characteristics of the shock absorbers and much more. We prefer a less complex steering wheel, because in this sports car it is good to focus entirely on the track. Everything happens at lightning speed, as we witnessed at the Andalusian circuit of Monteblanco.
Continuous, not brutal
First, we tackled two warm-up runs in race mode. Mercedes-AMG has been keen to prove that energy recovery is indeed suitable for fast battery charging. It actually works quite well: twice around the way and the battery charge level jumped from 25 to about 70 percent. After that, she was allowed to do some quick laps, even if she wasn’t between your teeth with a knife. Turning to the rectum, we were finally able to negate the entire herd of 843 purebred breeds. Active bottoming of the right pedal provided a surprisingly late reaction at first, but then the coupe gave us a good kick in the rear and we went incredibly fast. The landscape was distorted at the periphery of the field of view, and the tachometer was pulsing wildly. In pure numbers, the factory promises 0-100 km / h in 2.9 seconds, and the 200 km / h sound barrier lowers after seven seconds (9.9 seconds). The impression of the acceleration forces can be described – perhaps quite a bit – as continuous rather than brutal. On the racetrack, we almost forgot we were driving a 2.4-ton car. However, the next braking area brought us back to Earth. The left pedal’s pressure point isn’t quite as obvious, and the progression of braking forces seems somewhat artificial. The excellent steering with its good suspension deserves the highest marks, the driving behavior is very easy and surprising thanks to the all-wheel steering. The brain doesn’t want to accept how a car plays comically through curves and intuitively follows the perfect line. Although the car wasn’t driven at the limit, the brakes showed signs of wearing off after a few quick laps. This was confirmation that the GT 63 SE’s performance didn’t want to be the race track scheme. The Porsche Panamera fits this environment a little better. AMG gave an impressive performance record, but its favorite area is the German Autobahn, where it glides at insane speeds without sacrificing comfort.