11 min read
14 Dec

“First and foremost…” said Mercedes-AMG GmbH CEO Michael Schiebe, “the new SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE, with its innovative technology, is the most powerful member of the SL family.” The Mercedes-AMG SL is a premium bloodline of high-performance luxury sports cars descended from the iconic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing" introduced in 1954. 

In The Beginning 

The original SL introduced a lightweight, aerodynamic tubular frame design marked by the epochal gullwing doors. The 300 SL quickly gained recognition for its racing success and a symbol of automotive excellence. In 1963, the second-generation SL, known as the W113 series or the "Pagoda," was born. It featured a more refined and elegant design, including a distinctive concave roof shape resembling a pagoda. Like the modern SL, the W113 SL offered a range of engine options and advanced safety features for its time. 

See also: The World’s Top-10 Highest Horsepower Plug-In Hybrids 

The SL’s evolution continued through the 1971-1989 third generation (the R107 series), 1989-2001 fourth generation (R129 series), 2001-2011 fifth generation (R230 series), and the 2012-2020 sixth generation (R231 series) to the 7th and latest generation R232 series, representing a significant departure from its predecessors, as it is developed by Mercedes-Benz’s performance division AMG as a dedicated performance model. 

The R232 SL, more than everything else, focuses on advanced electrification, performance, and driving dynamics. For 2024 MY, the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE is a powerful, high-performance convertible featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine with an electric drive unit, resulting in the most potent SL car Mercedes ever built

As Schiebe says, "The SL has always been an icon in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio [and] the latest version of the legendary roadster transfers this status into the future.” Below are seven takeaways from the AMG SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE’s best features. 

1. The PETRONAS F1-Inspired High Performance Battery

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE battery.

Mirroring its cutting-edge PETRONAS Formula 1 technology, the Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE is debuting AMG’s in-house-crafted high-performance battery. AMG’s Affalterbach workshops developed this lithium-ion energy storage system using the same technological principles propelling Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s hybrid race cars

The battery’s clever blend of high power delivery for rapid and repeated use and lightweight design enhances the SL Roadster’s overall performance. Its innovative design allows quick energy absorption and high power density. The battery prioritizes performance over range since power consumption is just as rapid as the delivery. 

The AMG high-performance battery offers an impressive capacity of 6.1 kWh, capable of delivering a consistent output of 94 hp and a peak output of 201 hp. It can be charged using the onboard 3.7 kW AC charger at a charging station, a wall box, or a domestic socket. 

The AMG 400-volt battery’s exceptional performance is thanks to a state-of-the-art direct cooling system featuring a non-conductive liquid coolant that circulates through all 560 cells, providing individual cooling to each one. Just as every high-performance car needs the perfect operating temperature, so does a battery. 

If the battery gets too cold or too hot, a built-in mechanism temporarily cuts power to protect its high-performance components. Thus, maintaining a consistent temperature is critical to the battery's performance, longevity, and stability. 

2. Optional AMG Active Aerodynamics Package

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE aerodynamics.

The Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE makes a powerful statement with its specially tuned active aerodynamics, ingeniously adapted to complement its electrified drive technology. 

The optional AMG Aerodynamics Package features innovative active aerodynamic elements in the underbody just before the engine, which significantly enhances balanced driving dynamics. This unique, patented AMG-developed carbon profile showcases the brand's expertise in exceptional performance and innovation. 

The carbon profile responds dynamically to the AMG drive programs, lowering automatically by roughly 1.6 inches when the vehicle reaches a speed of 50 mph. This movement generates a Venturi effect, creating a vacuum that pulls the car closer to the ground, reducing front-axle lift for improved stability and control. 

An additional active component is the standard retractable rear spoiler seamlessly incorporated into the trunk lid. Its position adjusts automatically based on the driving situation. The skilled AMG aerodynamics team has meticulously adapted the control software to match the heightened performance of the SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE. 

According to Mercedes, the team fine-tuned numerous parameters such as vehicle speed, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, and steering speed to optimize the roadster’s performance. Upon exceeding 50 mph, the car’s spoiler maneuvers into one of five new angular positions. This smart adjustment allows for either enhanced handling stability or reduced drag, depending on the driving conditions. 

3. The Most Powerful Mercedes SL

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE power and performance.

With a max delivery of 816 horsepower and 1,047 pound-feet of torque, the 2024 SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 197 mph. 

The 400-volt, 6.1-kilowatt-hour battery pack delivers approximately 8.0 miles of purely electric range. “With this unique concept, we offer our customers not only superior performance but also the option of all-electric driving,” continued AMG GmbH CEO Schiebe. 

The SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE’s signature design boasts a perfect blend of a combustion engine in the front and an electric motor in the rear. In other words, you can expect the handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo engine to collaborate seamlessly with an electric drive unit strategically positioned on the rear axle. 

This setup includes a permanently excited synchronous electric motor, boasting 201 hp, and an electrically shifted two-speed transmission and limited-slip rear differential. The lightweight high-performance battery is also strategically situated in the rear, above the rear axle, maximizing the advantages of this compact design. 

See also: The Three-Stage AMG Speed-Sensitive Steering Is Just One Of The All-New Mercedes-AMG CLE 53 Coupe's Best Features 

The electric motor, acting directly on the rear axle, is perfectly positioned to transform its power into propulsion effectively. This configuration provides a significant boost when starting, accelerating, or overtaking. If wheel slip is detected at the rear axle, the e-motor dynamically transfers power to the front wheels as needed. 

This traction management is thanks to the mechanical connection of the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel drive via the driveshaft and drive axles of the front wheels. 

The rear axle positioning improves weight distribution and axle load, forming the foundation for dynamic handling. The new SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE’s operating strategy mirrors the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 race car’s hybrid powerpack. 

Similarly, maximum propulsion is always at the driver's disposal for aggressive acceleration, such as when powering out of corners or overtaking. The electric power is always on standby, easily and frequently replenished via high recuperation performance and needs-based recharging. 

This independent battery concept strikes an optimal balance between dynamic performance and efficiency. The intelligently synchronized drivetrain components place the updated performance in the driver's control. 

4. Personalized Exterior And Interior Styling And Technology Experience

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE design.

The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE embodies an extraordinary fusion of power, style, and eco-conscious design, with unique exterior details distinguishing it from the rest of the AMG SL range. 

Key features include a seamlessly integrated charging port door at the rear, a striking "SL 63 S" badge accentuated with red highlights, and distinctive trapezoidal twin tailpipe trims. The "E PERFORMANCE" insignias on both front fenders proudly proclaim the car's innovative hybrid engine.

 Just like the wider AMG SL collection, the SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE offers multiple customization options. From a variety of paint finishes to specific equipment details, personalization is at the heart of the 63 E PERFORMANCE experience. 

The Mercedes MANUFAKTUR program expands this offering with an extensive palette of interior and exterior enhancements, with available curated design packages to further refine the car's aesthetics. Notably, customers can select from 20- and 21-inch wheels offered in multiple designs and finishes. 

Naturally, the new AMG 63 E PERFORMANCE uses a driver-focused interior design language carefully crafted for an unrivaled blend of dynamic driving and luxury comfort. The cockpit's design, dominated by a portrait-format central display, creates a harmonious, driver-centric environment. 

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE interior.

The cabin uses a practical 2+2 seating layout with ample space for all passengers. Electrically adjustable AMG sports seats await the 63 E Performance owners, ensuring comfort and excellent lateral support. The automaker also offers optional AMG Performance seats with built-in headrests and seatback ventilation openings for a more athletic feel. 

The seats also come with three massage programs for enhanced comfort during long-distance driving. 

Furthermore, the SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE offers a broad selection of upholstery options, from comfortable to performance-oriented designs. Customers can choose from single and two-tone Nappa leather or the refined MANUFAKTUR upholstery with diamond quilting. 

For a sportier aesthetics, opt for the combination of Nappa leather and microfiber, finished with contrasting stitches in vibrant yellow or red. 

Affirming the roadster’s innovative form-meet-function design, Schiebe remarked that the “extensive equipment options and the high-quality materials used also make the SL one of the most exclusive roadsters on the market - a real dream car." 

See also: BMW Says It Will Build 50 More Examples Of The Track Champion M4 GT4, Including An EVO Model

4b. Hi-Tech SL Roadster

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE infotainment.

Speaking of equipment, the 2024 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE will field the MBUX infotainment system, renowned for its intuitive operation and learning capabilities, but we don’t know if it is the marque’s latest MBUX 3.0 system, which comes with a large, highly responsive touchscreen display serving as the primary interface for controlling various functions. 

One of the MBUX 3.0 system’s standout features is its voice control capability, underscored by natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand and respond to voice commands. 

The system is fully integrated with the vehicle's other systems, allowing visual and control access to information related to climate control, seat settings, lighting, and other comfort features. 

However, Mercedes says it updated the SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE's MBUX system with AMG- and hybrid-specific content, with exclusive menus, such as "AMG Performance," highlighting the car's athletic character. This means high-quality graphic displays of power flow, speed, torque, and the electric drive unit’s temperature. 

5. The Standard Active Rear-Axle Steering And AMG High-Performance Brakes

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE rear axle steering.

As a testament to Mercedes' innovative engineering, the new SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE is kitted out as standard with active rear-axle steering. This feature allows the rear wheels to steer in sync with the front wheels or the opposite direction, depending on the vehicle’s speed. 

Active rear-axle steering technology enhances a vehicle's maneuverability by allowing the rear wheels to turn in addition to the front wheels. It works through sensors and control systems that monitor various factors, such as vehicle speed, steering input, and sometimes even road conditions. 

At lower speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels, reducing the turning radius and improving agility, making parking and low-speed maneuvers more manageable. 

At higher speeds, the rear wheels may turn in the same direction as the front wheels to improve stability and handling during lane changes or high-speed cornering. At speeds up to 60 mph, the 63 S E PERFORMANCE’s rear wheels steer against the direction of the front wheels to improve the car’s agility. 

Above 60 mph, the rear wheels align with the front. This intelligent system not only promotes nimbleness and steady handling but also aids in effortless vehicle control, especially at the limit. That is to say, the more direct steering ratio at the front reduces the required steering effort, providing a more intuitive and responsive driving experience. 

See also: The Evolution of Mercedes-Benz: A Look Back At The First Model

5b. The AMG High-Performance Braking System

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE high-performance brakes.

Driving the SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE means commanding a vehicle equipped with an AMG ceramic high-performance composite brake system as standard. 

High-performance composite brakes, commonly known as carbon-ceramic brakes, are advanced braking systems used in sports cars to provide superior stopping power and heat dissipation compared to traditional brake systems. 

These brakes typically consist of a composite material, primarily carbon fibers embedded in a matrix of ceramic material. The carbon-ceramic brake discs are much lighter than traditional cast iron discs, reducing unsprung weight and improving overall vehicle performance. 

Notably, carbon-ceramic brakes exhibit lower wear rates than traditional brakes, resulting in a longer lifespan. Since they are less prone to fading, these brakes ensure consistent performance under demanding driving conditions. 

They excel in high-temperature environments, are resistant to corrosion, and promote improved handling and reduced rotational inertia due to their lightweight nature. While they are typically more expensive than traditional brakes, the latest Mercedes-AMG SL’s advanced composite braking system boasts bronze-painted 6-piston fixed calipers at the front and 1-piston floating calipers at the rear. 

The front axle boasts carbon ceramic brake discs measuring 16.5 x 1.6 inches (420 x 40 mm), while the rear axle features 15 x 1.3-inch (380 x 32 mm) discs. Mercedes says the roadster’s powerful brakes ensure extraordinary performance for short stopping distances and high stability even under intense loads. 

6. Eight Drive Modes And Four-Stage Recuperation

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE DYNAMIC drive programs.

The SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE offers eight AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs – "Electric," "Battery Hold," "Comfort," "Slippery," "Sport," "Sport+," "RACE," and "Individual". These drive programs are custom-tuned to exploit the roadster’s innovative drivetrain, resulting in a varied spectrum of driving experiences ranging from efficient to exhilaratingly dynamic. 

This means that key performance parameters such as drivetrain responsiveness, transmission settings, steering characteristics, suspension damping, and sound are adjusted based on the selected program. Owners can conveniently choose between these programs via the central multimedia display or the AMG DRIVE UNIT steering wheel buttons. 

When the electric motor is engaged, the performance hybrid initiates silently ("Silent Mode") in the "Comfort" drive program. An icon labeled "Ready" on the instrument cluster indicates that the vehicle is good to go. 

As a nod to the AMG pedigree, the vehicle’s speakers emit acoustic feedback in the form of a sonorous start-up sound to signify readiness. A light touch on the accelerator pedal propels this AMG performance hybrid into motion. 

6b. The 4-Stage Regenerative Braking

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE regenerative braking.

The SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE also features four selectable levels of recuperation. The car optimizes energy recovery thanks to direct cooling that maintains the high-performance battery at an optimal temperature of approximately 113 Fahrenheit. 

Normally, high recuperation can heat a battery and limit its energy recovery capabilities. However, when the 63 S E PERFORMANCE driver lifts off the accelerator, the system begins to recuperate energy, charging the battery and creating braking torque. This feature is particularly useful on steep descents, acting like an engine brake and feeding energy back into the battery. 

The recuperation levels can be selected using the right-hand AMG DRIVE UNIT steering wheel button and are available in all drive programs, with the exception of "Slippery." 

The highest recuperation level enables "one-pedal" driving like an all-electric vehicle. Depending on the driving situation, over 100 kW of power can be returned to the battery, exemplifying the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE’s extraordinary efficiency. 

7. Standard AMG Active Ride Control Suspension

Mercedes-AMG 63 S E PERFORMANCE active suspension.

Standard on the 2024 SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE is the AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL suspension with active roll stabilization. This innovative damping technology significantly minimizes body roll and supports a broad spectrum of driving modes. 

In place of traditional mechanical torsion anti-roll bars, the system employs active hydraulic elements to compensate for rolling movements in mere fractions of a second. 

The adaptive shock absorbers are uniquely designed with two hydraulic connections – one on the compression side and the other on the damper’s rebound side. The damper chambers on all four wheels are directly connected via the control valves of the adaptive dampers. 

Thanks to the smart hydraulic interconnection among the four suspension struts and the pressure regulation of the pump and control valves, the system facilitates a wide roll spring rate, minimizing roll movement. 

This technology allows the vehicle to automatically adjust from zero to high torsion resistance as required. It ensures an increased level of comfort during everyday driving by individually compensating for one-sided road imperfections. 

Additionally, during dynamic cornering, the hydraulics actively reduces camber loss. The resulting high camber rigidity engenders precise turning capabilities in the AMG SL roadster. 

Depending on the selected drive program and driving situation, the system opens fully on straight-line driving, counteracting individual obstacles that would typically induce rolling movements. 

This leads to an enhanced driving experience for both drivers and passengers, marked by significant comfort and minimized body roll when cornering. The system creates a greater differentiation between comfort and sport in terms of driving characteristics across individual driving modes. 

In essence, the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E PERFORMANCE provides a seamless blend of comfort and dynamism, offering a truly exceptional driving experience.

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