While Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to go EV-only where markets allow by 2030, with a growing lineup of electric vehicles already on sale, it isn’t giving up on internal combustion engines just yet – especially when it comes to the AMG performance division, which is using electrification to extract massive power from gas motors. The latest model to get the AMG E Performance plug-in hybrid treatment is the SL roadster, making history as both the first PHEV droptop from Mercedes and the most powerful SL of all time.
The powertrain setup in the new 2024 Mercedes-AMG SL63 S E Performance is extremely similar to the one in the GT 4-Door Coupe. AMG’s tried-and-true twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 is paired with a 6.1-kWh battery pack and an electric motor mounted directly on the rear axle. The battery pack is also located just above the rear axle for optimum weight distribution. The electric motor on its own makes 201 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and is integrated into a two-speed transmission and limited-slip rear differential; the engine itself uses the same 9-speed automatic as the regular SL.
Total output is a whopping 805 hp and 1,047 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 228 hp and 457 lb-ft over the nonhybrid SL63. (The engine on its own is 26 hp and 37 lb-ft up from the regular SL63, too.) Mercedes says the SL63 S E Performance will hit 2.8 seconds, 0.7 seconds quicker than the gas-only SL63. That also makes it a smidge quicker than the GT63 S E Performance 4-Door Coupe, which has 831 hp and 1,084 lb-ft and hits 60 in 2.9 seconds.
Integrating the electric motor into the rear axle allows for a more direct performance boost, and it can also power the front axle thanks to the variable 4Matic all-wheel-drive system’s driveshaft and mechanical connection. Mercedes says the high-density battery uses Formula 1–inspired technology and has been designed for fast responses and repeated use, so maximum electric power is always available. Like AMG’s other PHEVs, the battery even recharges itself the harder you drive.
There are four different levels of regenerative braking, with more than 100 kW of energy able to be recuperated back into the battery, and the strongest setting allows for one-pedal driving like in an EV. AMG won’t say how much electric range the SL63 S E Performance will have, but it’s unlikely to be greater than a dozen miles; customers can plug in and charge up the car with a 3.7-kW onboard charger.
The SL63 S E Performance comes standard with the SL’s fancy Active Ride Control suspension, with uses hydraulics in place of conventional anti-roll bars to eliminate body roll and improve dynamics. Also standard are carbon-ceramic brakes, rear-wheel steering and eight different drive modes, including a battery hold mode that uses the engine to maintain the battery charge.
Aside from the charge port in the rear bumper, you can spot an SL63 S E Performance by the red badge outlines and grooved exhaust tips. AMG tweaked the SL’s active aerodynamics for the hybrid, including five new angles for the rear spoiler. Other than new hybrid pages and designs for the infotainment system, the interior is identical as well. Mercedes recently expanded the availability of the SL’s Manufaktur options, with lots more special paints and leather colors to choose from like the Mid Ireland Green Magno in these images.
Mercedes says the SL63 S E Performance will go on sale in the U.S. at some point next year for the 2024 model year. With the standard SL63 already costing $184,150 before options, expect a starting price of well past the $200k mark. The recently redesigned GT coupe will get a PHEV variant too, potentially with even more power than the SL.