The modern Mercedes-AMG brand is synonymous with two things: dominating Formula 1 in the turbo-hybrid era; and handbuilt, grunty V8s that make the road-legal luxury models fast and exciting. Today, we’re focussing on the latter. While engine downsizing, turbocharging and electrification are accepted trades in modern-day performance engineering, some changes simply feel a step too far. This is one of those changes, as the German brand has officially confirmed that the new C63 won’t get a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.
Why is the “63” moniker so important to the AMG lineup?
While the Mercedes lineup has long been ridiculed for its complexity and the sheer number of variants, the AMG lineup had become well-defined over the last decade or so. There are three main Merc sedans: C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class. Add a GL before those letters, and you get the SUV version instead of the sedan or coupe. Then if you wanted a performance version, you’d go for the AMG version which was offered in two levels of performance, each indicated by a certain moniker: “43” for a 3.0-litre, 6-cylinder turbo engine and “63” for the full 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8. There have been new Merc-AMG models over time (“45”, “35”, 53″, etc) but that broad classification had been left untouched. Not anymore.
What’s are the changes for Mercedes-AMG models in the future?
Mercedes has announced that it will be utilising the learnings from its hybrid motorsport success and adding it to AMG models, calling the tech – E Performance. This drivetrain technology will combine AMG’s 8-cyl and 4-cyl engines with a permanently excited synchronous electric motor (on the rear axle), a high-performance battery and a fully variable all-wheel-drive system. Depending on the model, the motor will offer as much as 201bhp and 320Nm. The first of the scalable AMG High Performance Battery (HPB) with its clever cooling and temperature management tech is to be known by the codename HBP80. It will have a capacity of 6.1 kWh with 70kW continuous power and peak power at 150kW for up to 10 seconds. The weight for this HBP? 89kg.
The Mercedes AMG E Performance hybrid system is always on. This allows the electric power to be called upon at any time while also recuperating in the background when possible. AMG’s performance hybrid models will also feature the latest versions of the brand’s vehicle dynamic control system.
What kind of performance is to be expected with F1-derived hybrid tech?
The AMG Performance Hybrid drivetrain, in its peak configuration, will be capable of delivering over 800bhp and more than 1,000Nm of torque. So, expect that kind of performance from the range-topping AMG GT63 4-door, or the next-gen E63, S63 and large SUVs.
What about the others, like the C63?
Well, they’ll use the new hybrid performance tech in combination with AMG’s M139, 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo engine. The coolest F1-derived tech for these models will be the introduction of the electric exhaust-gas turbocharger. This electric turbocharger can maintain boost pressure at all times to ensure a continuous rate of responsiveness. It is not hampered by the usual shortfalls of turbos that are too small to offer much oomph or those so big that there is a massive lag. The AMG 2.0-litre turbo-hybrid can produce more than 440hp and then be supported by the 200bhp electric motor for a total output greater than what is offered by some of the current AMG V8 models. This system will debut in the performance variants of the next C-Class, including the new C63.
But what about the sound?
Well, that’s going to be synthetically engineered to be plumbed into the cockpit via an expensive sound system. Current AMG models are already quieter thanks to the tightening regulations and OPF systems. Even the AMG GT Black Series does not boast of a thunderous roar from its race-engineered V8. While there will be tuner and aftermarket services to rectify this problem, future AMG models from the factory will likely be devoid of the brand’s iconic auditory joy.
Is it the end of the AMG V8 altogether?
No, not quite yet. There is a future still for a turbocharged V8, as it is still the common engine style for most supercars and hybridised hypercars. However, the Affalterbach V8 will be restricted to more expensive AMG models only where it will be combined with E Performance tech to offer ridiculous levels of performance.
Don’t forget, Mercedes-AMG has also been working on fitting their 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid power unit from F1 into a road-going hypercar. Expect the German luxury carmaker to continue offering fast and fun-to-drive cars for many more years, albeit quieter ones.
What do you make of Mercedes-AMG’s future plans in regards to driving performance? Are you on board with using the latest tech for better performance? Or would you prefer slower cars with more emotional character and noise? Share your answers in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.