Mercedes-AMG drops the most powerful SL of all time… and it's a hybrid

Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance
(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz)

Who says hybrids have to be boring? Mercedes-Benz certainly doesn’t think so, because it has just unveiled the most powerful version of its iconic SL model ever produced and all that power is thanks to electrification.

Well, it’s not all down to battery packs and electric motors, because there is still a whopping 4-litre Biturbo V8 engine under the hood that itself pumps out an impressive 603bhp. But Mercedes-AMG has paired that with a 201bhp motor on the rear axle for a total system output of 805bhp. Yeah, we don’t know where the German marque got the extra horse from, either.

The most powerful SL is also naturally one of the fastest, with Mercedes claiming it can rocket from 0-60mph in just 2.8-seconds and go on to top speed of 196mph, which has been electronically limited. Because 200mph would have just been silly.

Although hybrid by nature, the awkwardly-monikered SL 63 S E Performance can only actually manage eight miles on electricity alone, so the 6.1 kWh battery is very much there for an added performance boost. 

Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance

(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz)

Apparently, the whole hybrid set-up is "inspired by technologies proven in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team's Formula 1 hybrid race cars", which sees a direct cooling system worked into the 400V battery system to ensure it is constantly at the correct temperature for optimum power draw. Four selectable levels of regenerative braking feed power back into the batteries.

All systems go

In terms of driving experience, this is very much an AMG product, so a trick all-wheel-drive system can send power to whatever axle needs it the most, while no fewer than seven different modes can be selected, covering everything from full electric (for eight miles, remember) to shouty RACE mode. There’s even rear-axle steering for added handling chops.

To deal with the serious amount of power on offer, Mercedes-AMG has also developed an optional AMG Aerodynamics Package that features an active aerodynamic 'element' concealed in the underbody in front of the engine.

This automatically lowers at a speed of 50mph or above to create a 'Venturi effect', which "sucks the car to the road and reduces front-axle lift," according to Mercedes-AMG.

In addition to this, engineers have seen fit to add a retractable rear spoiler that automatically deploys and changes position depending on the drive mode.

"The SL has always been an icon in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio. The latest version of the legendary roadster transfers this status into the future," Michael Schiebe, CEO of Mercedes-AMG said.

This is just a first look for now, so there’s currently no word on pricing, but considering the ‘regular’ SL63 costs over £170,000 / $205,000 / AUS$375,000, you can safely bet that it isn’t going to be cheap.

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Leon Poultney

Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.