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► 843bhp, 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds
► AMG’s barmiest four-door driven in the UK
► Too much of a good thing?
Any notion that AMG’s electrified future will come at the expense of the V8 should be quashed by the Mercedes-AMG GT63 S E Performance. Despite coming with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, its 201bhp electric motor augments a 4.0-litre V8. That provides this 2.4-tonne five-door coupe with 831bhp and a truck-like 1084Ib ft of torque in overboost mode.
Efficiency? Pah! To keep the weight down and keep some sort of boot the battery is tiny, giving just 8 miles of electric-only running. CO2? That’s a robust 196g/km, so there’s no benefit to company car drivers, either. Make no mistake, this is very much a performance PHEV.
A luxury lining?
First appearances are very good indeed, with lots of quilted leather, carbon fibre trim and hi-res digital displays for the instruments and infotainment. Look a little closer and you’ll find some rather creaky dash plastics and switches that are flimsier than they should be for a £180,000 luxury product.
At least it’s mostly easy to use. Thanks to the GT63 basically being an E-Class underneath, there’s still a few physical switches and buttons for the heating. Sadly touch-sensitive steering wheel controls are as infuriating here as every other Mercedes with them, although the twin rotary dials for the performance settings work well.
Space for passengers is much the same as the regular GT63, although the battery pack still takes a sizeable chunk out of the available boot space.
What’s it like to drive?
The AMG GT63 S E Performance always starts up in Comfort for maximum efficiency. There are six more steps to climb on the AMG stairway to insanity: Electric, Winter, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual. We favoured Sport or Sport+ for B road bothering, it bringing appreciably tighter body control without turning the spring and damper units into pogo sticks.
The racier modes also improve the response of the mighty powertrain, although the full 831bhp and 1084Ib ft of torque are only available for 10 seconds at a time. If you haven’t triggered overboost, you’ll have to make do with a paltry 748bhp and 848Ib ft. Drive is thankfully channelled to all four wheels, although on soaking wet winter roads you can still trigger the traction control in second and third.
Performance is strong enough to elicit colourful language when the skinny pedal first meets floormat. You expect it to be fast off the line, but the way the E Performance relentlessly accelerates towards triple digit speeds is way beyond the likes of the BMW M8 Gran Coupe. A Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid would run it closer, but the last time we experienced acceleration like this in a four-door, it wore a Tesla badge on the nose.
Does it sound like a proper AMG?
The 4.0-litre V8 is as sonorous as you’d expect, with fireworks available on the overrun and a baritone bellow overlaid with chirps and whistles from the turbos. More of a surprise is the noise of the electric gubbins, with the motor whining away when producing power and while harvesting energy under braking. Depending on your viewpoint, it’s either a tad unrefined or just adds to the theatre.
Electric drive is active up to 80mph, but only very briefly. In real life, the claimed zero-emission range of eight miles is quickly chewed up, while the V8 is keen to add charge to the pack to ensure sledgehammer performance whenever you need it. Claimed economy is around 35mpg, a figure we fell short of by some margin. Even with a belly full of ‘leccy, mpg in the teens is very easily achieved.
Does it corner?
The GT63 S E Performance gets a selection of AMG’s cleverest suspension tech including adaptive three-chamber air suspension, rear steer and an electronically controlled limited slip diff on the back axle. They work well up to a point, the suspension providing a firm but perfectly liveable ride in Comfort, with enough compliance for even Sport+ to be usable on the road.
Start to really push and things do come unravelled. The brakes are simply atrocious; although they have plenty of stopping power, you have to push through several inches of weaker regen braking before pad hits disc and you start slowing down in earnest. It can be unnerving during normal driving, and simply terrifying if you’re making progress.
Quick direction changes highlight the GT’s bulk as do undulating country roads, while you tend to arrive at bends travelling a good 10 or more mph faster than you expected. Grip levels are high and there’s a definite rear bias to proceedings, but our streaming wet test day meant ESC off and Drift mode felt suicidal.
While the GT63 E Performance is undoubtedly a 21st century performance car, it feels very much an old-school AMG in many respects. In other words, it feels like an exceptionally large engine that just so happens to have a car attached.
The way it builds momentum at seemingly any speed and rev range certainly gets the adrenaline pumping. Unfortunately, the unpleasant brakes probably generate even higher heartrates, and quite simply the regular GT63 handles with more aplomb for far less cash.
|Price when new:||£173,705|
|On sale in the UK:||Now|
|Engine:||3982cc twin-turbo V8, 831bhp, 1084lb ft|
|Transmission:||Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive|
|Performance:||3982cc twin-turbo V8, 831bhp, 1033lb ft|
|Weight / material:||2380kg|
|Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):||5054/2069/1447|