Mercedes-AMG SL63 S E Performance: the most powerful SL of all time

Published: 12 December 2023 Updated: 12 December 2023

► Range-topping SL with 805bhp
► Adds PHEV kick to AMG 4.0 V8
► Soft-top roof, 197mph v-max

There’s a smoking hot new Mercedes-Benz SL range-topper, with a brawny plug-in hybrid V8 from AMG: meet the new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance. It’s less of a boulevardier and more of a quarter-mile bruiser, judged on its spec sheet.

It mixes the well-known 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine (hardly known for being a sluggard) with the E Performance plug-in hybrid powertrain for a devastating set of performance figures:

  • Total power output 805bhp 
  • Total torque output 1047lb ft
  • 0-62mph 2.9 seconds
  • Top speed 197mph

It’s enough to make the AMG SL 63 S E Performance the most powerful and fastest Mercedes SL of all time. The rear electric motor is rated at 150kW, enough for an extra 201bhp kick at the back wheels, delivered through a mechanical limited-slip differential.

New SL63 S E Performance has more than 800bhp

Fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive monitors traction at the rear axle and feeds drive to the front wheels when required.

If this is all a bit much, read on for more background on the rest of the SL range.

Interior of Merc-AMG SL63 S E Performance

Background to the Mercedes-Benz SL

Mercedes unveiled its all-new SL convertible back in 2021. Along with introducing a whole new platform, fresh technologies and a back-to-basics design, the latest 2+2 SL is designed to hark back to an era of grand touring prowess the brand has been famous for.

‘We wanted to come back to its origin,’ AMG boss, Philipp Schiemer tells CAR. ‘The original SL was a sports car, with the ongoing generations it was a symbol for a lot of people.’

‘You can only imagine the original SL’s impact. We wanted to take the car back to those roots,’ adds AMG’s chief technical officer, Jochen Hermann. ‘If you think about the 300SL in the ’50s – how far ahead of its time it was – we wanted to take this car back to that and give it a clear character. The last two SLs were something in between being sporty and a cruiser.’

mercedes sl side

This new-generation SL, then, also aims to bridge the gap between Mercedes-Benz and its AMG skunkworks. ‘AMG took over this car,’ says Schiemer, ‘combining the sportiness and driving dynamics of AMG with the comfort and luxurious appeal of a Mercedes-Benz.’

I need some new SL performance specs

At launch, the SL was available with two power outputs of AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8: the SL 55 and SL 63. Both have all-wheel drive (though this system doesn’t have a rear-drive mode like an E63) and a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

mercedes sl pair

The SL 55 (in white) produces 469bhp and 516lb ft, sprinting to 62mph in 3.9 seconds and topping out at 183mph. The hotter SL 63 (in red), meanwhile, develops 577bhp and 590lb ft, good for a 3.6-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 196mph.

The SL added plug-in hybrid variants under the Mercedes-AMG E-Performance banner – the same powertrain that’ll also underpin the upcoming AMG C63. That comprises a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine mated to e-motors and a battery pack.

Sounds spicy – is the SL a sports car?

Mercedes says it’s designed to be as much as a grand tourer as it is a sports car, given the heavy involvement of AMG. So, along with the V8 power from launch and standard all-wheel drive, the new SL can be had with rear-wheel steering and, for the SL 63, AMG Active Ride Control.

That’s a semi-active hydraulic anti-roll system designed to kill body roll through the bends – something usually reserved for top-heavy SUVs. The SL 63 can also be specified with an electronic limited-slip differential for the rear axle if you specify the AMG Dynamics Plus pack.

mercedes sl front tracking

‘Sporty does not have to mean rock-hard dampers,’ explains Hermann. ‘It can mean precise and predictable. You don’t need to make a car uncomfortable to achieve these things. With all the systems and modes, including the e-diff, the power split across the axles and the rear-wheel steering, you can make this car very sporty with the push of a button,’ claims Hermann.

Any other clever tech?

Active aerodynamics (which Mercedes calls Airpanel), including a pop-out rear spoiler inset into the top edge of the tailgate, and the new MSA platform the SL is underpinned by comprises an aluminium space frame with optional active engine mounts (part of the aforementioned AMG Dynamics Plus pack).

mercedes sl rear tracking

Choosing a soft-top over a tin-top reduces weight and complexity, too, and Mercedes says it takes just 15 seconds to raise or lower at speeds up to 37mph.

The new roadster has also taken a leaf out of the S-Class’ book with its new portrait infotainment setup running the latest MBUX functionality. Yet Mercedes calls it ‘hyperanalogue’, given the split off, square driver instruments leaving little to distract you. We’ll be the judge of that…

mercedes sl interior

Mercedes’ new SL went on UK sale in the first months of 2022.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches