Supercar duel: Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance vs Ferrari 296 GTS

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With 816 PS and a 0-100 kph acceleration in just 2.9 seconds, the new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance competes with the Ferrari 296 GTS. Which is the ideal supercar?

Photos: Ferrari, Bogdan Grigorescu

In pictures there is a Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4Matic which is very similar to the S E Performance. Only the charging port on the rear bumper and the red badging are different.

With the top version of the Mercedes-AMG SL, Mercedes aims for the supercar segment and directly attacks the Ferrari 296 GTS. The performance figures are very close on paper: 0-100 kph in just 2.9 seconds for both models and a top speed of 317 kph for the AMG SL and over 330 kph for the 296 GTS.

Let’s evaluate in detail what each offers.

Plug-in hybrid propulsion for both models but very different

Both models use a Plug-in Hybrid propulsion system that is very different in design.

The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance has a 450 kW (612 PS) and 850 Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine at the front, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and a 150 kW (204 PS) permanent magnet synchronous electric motor at the rear axle (70 kW continuous power). The powertrain delivers 816 PS and up to 1,420 Nm in total.

The Ferrari 296 GTS uses a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 487 kW (663 PS) and 740 Nm having a 120-degree V-angle located centrally and a 122 kW (166 PS) electric motor located between the combustion engine and the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The powertrain delivers 830 PS while the total torque is not announced.

Ferrari’s axial-flow electric motor is supplied by the British specialist Yasa, a company recently bought by… Mercedes. It also functions as an MGU-K generator as in F1 and is separated from the combustion engine by a clutch.

The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance has a 6.1 kWh battery mounted above the rear axle, while the Ferrari 296 GTS has a 7.45 kWh battery located on the floor behind the two seats.
With a slightly larger battery and a much smaller weight, the 296 GTS has an electric range of 25 km compared to only 13 km in the Mercedes.

The Ferrari has the plug-in charging port above, to the left of the transparent engine cover, but you don’t need to charge at the socket as the PHEV system allows efficient charging while driving. Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance has a charging port on the rear bumper.

Mercedes hasn’t announced the weight of the new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance, but it’s heavier than the AMG SL 63 4Matic due to the presence of the electric motor and battery. Considering the AMG SL 63 4Matic weighs 1,970 kg, the top SE Performance version weighs at least 150 kg more. Mercedes doesn’t declare the battery weight, but Ferrari’s is only 70 kg.

At only 1,540 kg, the Ferrari 296 GTS is 430 kg lighter than the AMG SL 63 4Matic and probably almost 600 kg lighter than the top S E Performance version.

test Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4Matic

Similar longitudinal dynamics

With almost equal power but very different weight, the two models accelerate equally fast to 100 kph (62 mph) in just 2.9 seconds, and the top speed is over 300 kph in both cases: 317 in the Mercedes and over 330 kph in the Ferrari. How is this possible?

The Mercedes has much more torque, up to 1,420 Nm, almost double that of the Ferrari 296 GTS, which offers 740 Nm.

What about lateral dynamics?

The Mercedes-AMG S 63 S E Performance has just been unveiled, so there is no data on lateral dynamics (slalom or double lane changes). But, for sure, the Mercedes’ high weight will have a negative effect. However, Mercedes has made an effort to offer the most dynamic drivetrain.

The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 S E Performance features standard AMG Active Ride Control suspension with semi-active roll stabilization and all-wheel steering. The displacement dampers, which can be adjusted in rebound and compression, also have semi-active, interconnected hydraulic elements that replace the traditional torsion bar stabilizer.
The electric motor acts directly on the rear axle, but if the rear axle tends to skid, the electric motor can transmit some of the power to the front axle via the mechanical connection provided by the AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system.

The Ferrari 296 GTS has rear-wheel drive only and an adaptive suspension. The V6 engine with a 120-degree V-angle has lowered the center of gravity by 50 mm compared to the Ferrari F8 Tributo.

Mercedes has better ergonomics and is more spacious

We drove the 296 GTS, and is extremely comfortable on the Soft mode, which is selected from the manettino switch. On our first test with the Mercedes-AMG SL 63, the suspension was unexpectedly firm in Comfort mode, even too firm for a GT.

Ferrari offers only two seats, while the Mercedes-AMG S E Performance has a 2+2 seating configuration, but the two rear seats are very cramped. The Mercedes-AMG SL has ditched the hardtop in favor of a lighter, textile roof. In contrast, the Ferrari 296 GTS has a small hardtop.

The Mercedes is more practical as it has a boot of between 213 and 240 liters, while the Ferrari only has a small front boot of only 49 liters. The Mercedes interior is also more practical, and the ergonomics is better.
The 11.9-inch portrait display can be electrically tilted to avoid reflecting sunlight, and the digital instrument cluster has various layouts with gorgeous graphics.

The Ferrari has virtually no central display, and everything is focused on the instrument cluster including navigation. Only the climate control has a separate little block.

Ferrari gearshift is limited to a few small buttons on the mid tunnel from where you can select automatic or manual mode, and then you change the gears manually from the gorgeous carbon paddles behind the steering wheel. Mercedes has the gearshift lever on the right of the steering wheel, but you can also change gears manually from the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The Ferrari 296 GTS costs 310,594 euros, but Mercedes hasn’t announced the price of the S E Performance. Considering that the AMG SL 63 costs 194,654 euros, we expect the Mercedes-AMG S E Performance to cost around 250,000 euros.

Technical dataMercedes-AMG SL 63 E Performance Ferrari 296 GTS
ICE engine
ConfigurationV8, bi-turboV6, bi-turbo
Displacement (cm3)39822992
Max. output/revs (PS/rpm)612/5750-6500663/8000
Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)860/2500-4000740/6250
Electric engine
Max. output kW (CP)150 (204)122 (166)
Max. torque (Nm)320315
PHEV system
Total output kW (CP)600 (816)610 (830)
Maxim total torque(Nm)1420na
Gearbox9 gears automatic8 gears, double clutch
L/w/h (mm)4705/1915/13594565/1958/1191
Wheelbase (mm)27002600
Boot volume(l)213-24049
Kerbweight (kg)na.1540
Battery capacity (kWh) 6.17.45
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)2.92.9
Top speed (km/h) 317over 330
Electric range WLTP (km) 1325
Price (euro)na.310,594