The U.S. Geological Survey reports more volcanic activity coming out of Affalterbach, Germany, where Mercedes-AMG has just debuted the SL 63 S E Performance. The flagship droptop gets its version of the hybrid powertrain already used in the GT 4-Door 63 S E Performance and S 63 E Performance sedans, and that will soon be found in the latest two-door GT.
A 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, an electric motor on the rear axle adds 201 hp and 804 lb-ft. Because each power unit works through its own transmission — the ICE getting nine speeds, the e-motor two — this a fully additive setup. Combined output comes to 804 hp and a comical, heavy-duty-truck rivaling 1,047 lb-ft. These sums compare favorably to the 577 hp and 590 lb-ft available in the now-demoted SL 63.
AMG estimates the SL 63 S E Performance will get from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, a figure conveniently identical to that of the 572-hp 2024 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet and 0.1 second adrift of the 640-hp 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. The AMG needs its vast excess in output compared to the Porsche to reach parity, this SL probably not far off 1,000 pounds more than the 911. Mercedes still hasn’t listed a curb weight for the new AMG SL in the U.S.; using reviews that have visited scales, the average comes to about 4,275 pounds. In Germany, there’s a 584-pound difference between the official curb weights for the AMG GT 4-Door 63 S 4Matic+ and the AMG GT 4-Door 63 S E Performance. If the coming flagship SL gains just 450 pounds over the SL 63, it would stand at 4,725 pounds versus the Turbo Cabriolet’s 3,790 pounds. There’s no such thing as a lightweight volcano.
Naturally, a ton of performance hardware makes the most of every eruption of power and a top speed electronically limited to 196 miles per hour. The SL fits AMG’s Ride Control suspension, all-wheel drive, rear-axle steering, a mechanical limited-slip differential, a carbon fiber front splitter, larger carbon-ceramic brakes with bronze calipers, and eight driving modes — Electric, Battery Hold, Comfort, Smoothness, Sport, Sport Plus, Race, Individual — each offering four levels of brake recuperation that max out at more than 100 kilowatts of replenishing power.
Emphasizing the possibilities, the car starts in electric mode by default, the wake-up accompanied by the digitized soundtrack of an AMG V8 coming to life. The 400-volt battery sits above the rear differential, programmed and cooled to deliver consistent and repeatable bursts of hard acceleration. The all-electric range is estimated to be eight miles on the WLTP cycle.
The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance is due here next year as a 2024-model-year offering. With the top non-hybrid starting at $184,150, when Mercedes announces pricing for the PHEV, don’t be surprised at a number that starts with a 2.