It is not impossible to teach an elephant to dance; the challenge lies in arousing the animal’s interest in the activity. It’s not that we’re trying to compare the 2024 Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance to the world’s largest and strongest land-roving animal, but given that the vehicle weighs in at an estimated 5,500 pounds, measures 17.5 feet in length, and packs almost 800 horsepower, there is an unmistakable connection between the two. The Selenite Grey Magno glossy paint that was used on our sample car merely strengthens the similarity.


To our good fortune, AMG has been defying the laws of physics for decades, starting with the first Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 “Red Pig” back in the 1970s. But even the most durable species needs to develop; for the S63 E Performance, this means adding an electric motor and a battery derived from Formula One to the S63’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine’s 603 horsepower output. It is said that the two of them together are capable of 791 horsepower.

It is made abundantly apparent by AMG that the primary focus of the hybrid powertrain found in the S63 is “less on electric range and more on best-in-class performance.” The electric engine that produces 188 horsepower is mounted behind the rear axle of the S63 E Performance, which also incorporates a two-speed gearbox and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential behind the rear axle. Because of this, it is now possible to deliver simultaneously the combined output of the V-8 and the electric motor. The vehicle is pre-set to operate solely on electric power, and our calculations indicate that it should be able to go around 20 miles in this mode at speeds of up to 87 miles per hour.

An F1-derived hybrid system

To make sure that the S63 moves in an elegant manner, quite a deal of intricate choreography is required. At the risk of oversimplification, the technology, which is referred to as a “P3 hybrid,” gives instantaneous torque from a standstill for speedier launches and, if driven carefully, a smoother disposition about town. This may be avoided by driving carefully. In the event that there is wheel slip at the rear axle, the AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system will conduct a two-step and direct output to the front wheels through the use of an electronically controlled clutch pack. Similarly, even when the S63 is only powered by its electric motor, all-wheel drive can be provided with the 4Matic+ system.

The lithium-ion energy storage technology derived from the units used in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s Formula 1 hybrid race cars was utilised in the development of the 10.5-kWh battery, which was created in partnership with the F1 engine manufacturer High Performance Powertrains (HPP), which is based in the United Kingdom. It is comparatively light and compact, and thanks to a sophisticated cooling circuit, it is able to survive the stress and heat buildup of multiple quick discharge and recharge cycles while retaining high current flow. This is a significant advantage. The cooling system is designed to maintain the battery at an ideal temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit by circulating liquid around all 1200 cells of the battery before the liquid enters an inbuilt heat exchanger attached directly to the battery and then another exchanger located at the front of the vehicle. There is a safety system in place that will restrict output if the temperatures stray too far from the optimal range, and it will also protect the battery from degrading at an accelerated rate.

There are four different degrees of onboard regeneration available, ranging from the nearly freewheeling Level 0 to the almost one-pedal-driving Level 3, which may return over 90 kilowatts of energy to the battery depending on the conditions of the drive. Level 0 is the lowest level of regeneration possible. We discovered that Level 2 was the optimal setting for relaxed highway driving, whereas Level 0 was the superior option for navigating the winding and narrow roads found in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s interesting to note that AMG claims the 3.7-kW onboard AC charger is the sole way to fully charge the battery to its maximum capacity. Again, the battery is optimised for rapid power delivery, not for breaking records for economy runs, and the algorithms for battery regeneration take both of these factors into consideration. Additionally, the battery is designed to have a long lifespan.

While piloting the S63

When you get behind the wheel of the hybrid vehicle, you quickly realise that despite the fact that the hybrid system may appear to be somewhat intricate and daunting, it is actually rather simple. Because of the meticulous calibration of the software, as well as the one-of-a-kind nature of the electric motor and its capacity to supply immediate torque directly to the back axle, the various aspects mesh so seamlessly that it is almost imperceptible. The powertrain was unflappable regardless of whether we were leisurely along the Pacific Coast Highway or sprinting up the mountain roads above; there were no weak points or awkward handoffs in the gearbox. As with a performance electric vehicle, abundant shove is available at practically any speed; however, in the S63 it is accompanied by a true high-performance V-8 exhaust that is designed to stop just short of full blat while in the Sport and Sport+ driving modes.

To activate Launch mode, you must first select the Sport+ driving mode, then firmly apply the brake, and then mash the accelerator. If you forget to use the brake, the S63 will take off with an uninterrupted surge of acceleration that belies the vehicle’s heaviness. Mercedes-AMG asserts that its vehicles can reach 60 miles per hour in just 3.2 seconds.