The age-old proverb suggests power corrupts absolutely, but we beg to differ. In fact, when it comes to Mercedes-Benz’s AMG line, a glut of power is an indelible hallmark passed from generation to generation. Over the past 45 years, the tuner-turned-performance brand has built its legacy on crafting vehicles that are luxurious, bespoke, and ludicrously fast. To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of its ten most powerful road cars ever built.
10. 2011-2013 Mercedes-Benz S63/ CL63/ SL63 AMG
5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8; 563 hp @ 5500 rpm, 664 lb-ft @ 2000-4500
Pay no heed to the 63 suffix in any of these cars’ names. For the 2011 model year, Mercedes-AMG replaced the familiar “6.3-liter V-8” (which was truly a 6.2-liter V-8) with a smaller, 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V-8. In the S63, CL63, and SL63, the engine can crank out as much as 563 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, but only with the optional AMG performance package. If you skip that option pack, output falls to 536 hp and 590 lb-ft.
9. 2011-2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
6.2-liter V-8; 563 hp @ 6800 rpm; 479 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
When AMG set out to build its first unique sports car model, it made sure to incorporate a number of historical trademarks. Gullwing doors? Check. Alloy body-in-white? Check. 6.2-liter V-8? Absolutely. For SLS service, the six-two received a new intake with eight velocity stacks, a less constrictive exhaust, forged pistons, and a few other internal tweaks. The result is an eight-cylinder that throws down 563 hp, 479 lb-ft, and snarls, crackles, and pops on over run like a Panzer tank huffing nitrous.
8. 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG
5.4-liter supercharged V-8; 582 hp @ 6100; 590 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
A Black Series before the Black Series name existed, the CLK DTM was Mercedes-AMG’s attempt at bridging the divide between the CLK55 road car and the wicked CLK DTM touring car. Visually, the DTM AMG looked more racing car than street car, thanks to its monstrous fender flares, wild body kit, and sparse interior, punctuated with racing buckets with carbon-fiber shells. An amended version of the CLK55’s supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 cranked out 582 hp and 590 lb-ft. With 80 percent of peak torque on tap at 2000 rpm, it’s no surprise the road-spec DTM could race from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. No wonder all 100 examples sold quickly, despite the $300,000 price tag.
7. 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
6.2-liter V-8; 591 hp @ 6800 rpm, 650 NM @ 4750 rpm
AMG’s gullwing Wunderkind has only been on the market for two years, but the company’s already amending the basic recipe for the 2013 model year. Among a host of mild tweaks, the 2013 SLS AMG – which shall now be known as the SLS AMG GT – gains a bit more oomph underhood. Abroad, the SLS GT offers 591 hp, but U.S.-spec models should deliver 583 hp @ 6800 rpm.
6. 2004-2010 Mercedes-Benz S65/ CL65/ SL65 AMG
6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12; 604 hp @ 4800 rpm, 738 lb-ft @ 2000-4000 rpm
If you wanted the ultimate in Mercedes motive power, the 65-series S, CL, and SL-Class models were your ideal vehicles. The M275 was a twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter V-12 capable of generating the sorts of power that could upstage Zeus himself. Peak horsepower – 604 ponies – came on at 4800 rpm, while a whopping 738 lb-ft of torque was delivered between 2000 and 4000 rpm. Benz’s 0-60 estimates for the S63 were conservatively placed in the low-four-second range – incredible, considering the size and heft of the car itself.
5. 2013 Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG
6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12; 612 hp @ 4300-5600 rpm, 738 lb-ft @ 2300-4300 rpm
AMG has been tuning Geländewagens since the early 1990s, but never did much more than shoehorn supercharged V-8s into the G’s engine bay. That all changes with the “new” 2013 G-Class. Somehow, AMG manages to pack a massive 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-12 into an engine compartment originally designed thirty years ago for small four- and six-cylinder engines. That six-liter monstrosity produces a solid 612 hp. Want one? Mercedes isn’t importing the G65 here (good luck meeting CAFE standards), saying the creation is targeted mostly at its well-heeled customers in Russia, China, and the Middle East. Those buyers will need to pony up $500,000 to park a G65 in their driveways.
4. 1997/8 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
6.9-liter V-12; 612 hp @ 6800 rpm, 568 lb-ft @ 5250
Manufacturers may not have enjoyed the FIA’s homologation requirement for all cars entered into the GT Championship, but car enthusiasts certainly did, as it meant companies had to build road-going versions of their insane, over-the-top race machines. Mercedes-Benz was no exception: the wild CLK GTR was built in both race and road car forms, though the latter differed from its race cousins mostly in interior trimmings. Road-going CLK GTRs used a 6.9-liter V-12, good for 612 hp, and paired it with a sequential manual transmission. For those who found that somehow unsatisfying, HWA – AMG’s partner devoted to motorsport pursuits – could convert the car into a “super sport,” replacing the 6.9-liter engine with a 7.3-liter V-12, good for more than 654 hp.
3. 2011-2013 Mercedes-Benz S65/ CL65 /SL65 AMG
6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12; 621 hp @ 5400 rpm, 738 lb-ft @ 2000-4000 rpm
These three models again? Yep. A mild power boost applied for the 2011 model year allowed peak horsepower to rise from 604 hp to 621 hp. Torque, however, remains essentially unchanged. These still remain some of the quickest and most powerful models Benz offers today – and, of course, some of the expensive. The 2013 S65 starts at around $212,000; while the CL65 comes in at $213,200
2. 2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 Black Series
6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12; 670 hp @ 5400 rpm, 738 lb-ft @ 2200-4200 rpm
Over the past six decades, Mercedes-Benz’s SL has evolved from a race-derived sports car into a quick, comfortable grand touring car. 2010’s SL65 Black Series, however, was a break from the norm. The third in AMG’s uber-exclusive Black Series range, the SL65 Black Series boasted blistered bodywork like many of its forebears, but also a twin-turbocharged V-12 that cranked out 670 hp. That output not only trumped the standard SL65, but also the McLaren-built Mercedes-Benz SLR, which was supposed to function as the brand’s halo supercar. Only 175 were imported into the U.S., each carrying a price tag of roughly $300,000.
4 Electric Motors; 740 hp, 738 lb-ft
Talk about breaking the mold. AMG may have built its reputation on beefy engines with never-ending power reserves, but the SLS AMG E-Cell is the first to do without an engine altogether – and it also happens As its name suggests, this SLS variant is a battery-electric vehicle, complete with a quartet of electric motors – one assigned to each wheel.
Although early estimates placed the system’s net output at roughly 560-600 hp, AMG now says the driveline should produce roughly 552 kW of power, which is roughly 740 hp. Not impressed yet? Take a look at the torque figures, then – AMG says there’s 737 lb-ft on tap. Both figures make the E-Cell AMG’s most powerful road car to date, but there’s even more icing on this cake. Since electric motors deliver peak torque at stall, most of that grunt is good, old-fashioned low-end torque, available right at launch. It apparently pays off: Benz alleges the E-Cell can rocket from 0-62 mph in an incredible 3.7 seconds.