The electric motors are coming. They’re winding their way into the very heart of every vehicle you know and love. While Mercedes isn’t quite ready to make the S 63 a full-on EV, this newest flavor of Mercedes’ snortiest S-Class gets a considerable portion of its shove from an electric motor and a complement of batteries. But don’t cringe: The rest of the power comes from AMG’s wonderful 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the two systems combining to make this the most powerful S-Class of all time, capable of sprinting to 60 in just 3.2 seconds.
Full Disclosure: Mercedes wanted to give me a peek at the new S 63 so badly they flew me all the way to Spain, put me up in a hotel, and shuttled me out to a secret location on the top of a mountain so far from anything that I genuinely wondered whether I was being abducted.
How powerful is it? Well, that 4.0-liter V8 and electric rear motor together deliver 710 hp and a whopping 1,055 lb-ft of torque — handily beating the 2022 Ford Super Duty, whose 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 makes a mere 1,050 lb-ft. Because you were definitely cross-shopping those two.
If those AMG power figures sound familiar, it’s because this is basically the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain setup as the AMG GT 63 S E Performance. The S 63 loses a few ponies compared to the AMG GT, but still, this is an increase of more than 100 horses compared to the outgoing generation.
It needed to be more powerful, though, because it’s heavier. Much heavier. While Mercedes U.S. hasn’t quoted a curb weight for the new S 63, the European-market version weighs in at 2,595 kg. That’s 5,720 pounds, up more than 800 over the outgoing one. The 13.1-kWh battery does provide an estimated 33 km (or 20 miles) of all-electric range under European testing, while raising the floor of the S-Class’s typically cavernous trunk and dropping cargo space by about 10 percent.
No, that isn’t much pure-electric range by modern PHEV standards, but this system isn’t designed to offset emissions. It’s designed to make you giggle as that four-digit torque shoves you into your seat — which is festooned with AMG logos and custom stitching, by the way. The rest of the interior is much the same as a regular S-Class. Only a splash of carbon fiber across the dashboard and a sport steering wheel give away this particular vehicle’s sporting intent.
That steering wheel has the requisite knobs to cycle through the S 63's seven customizable driving modes, but it also has the two thumb buttons to enable Mercedes’ Drive Pilot level 3 driver-assist system. That means Mercedes engineers had to find room for a LIDAR sensor to poke through what is, for the first time, a completely unique AMG-designed front fascia for the new S 63.
It’s a much more aggressive look than the otherwise demure S-Class, with wide air intakes and a massive three-pointed-star in the Panamericana-style grille. Look a little higher and you’ll see another change: no upright Mercedes hood ornament, just a flush AMG logo.
Other than the front-end changes, the S 63 looks much the same as a standard S-Class, and it should be just as comfortable, too. Active suspension is standard, able to stiffen or soften as you like and lower the car at speed. Standard, too, are active anti-roll bars, which can completely disconnect when you want to waft rather than weave. Rear-wheel steering is likewise standard, but down to only three degrees of steering angle (the standard S-Class offers 10 degrees) thanks to the more complex hybrid rear drivetrain setup.
On the inside, every option available on the regular S-Class (which, for the record, feels wrong to call “regular”) is available here. If you really want massaging rear seats in your thousand-lb-ft AMG, you can get them. More importantly, the S-Class’s sublime Burmester 4D sound system with Dolby Atmos is just a tick of an options sheet away.
I was not given a chance to drive the new S 63 E Performance — we’re going to have to wait a bit on that. Likewise, we’re going to have to wait to find out details on pricing. Mercedes says the 2023 S 63 E Performance should be hitting dealerships sometime towards the middle of 2023. Start saving, because this one won’t be cheap.