► Hybridised four-cylinder powertrain with dizzying combined power
► Drift mode aimed at hooligans with money and tyres to burn
► £76k (est); reveal by year’s end, on sale early 2022
An AMG super saloon without a V8? Unthinkable to some. But soon a reality, as AMG’s engineers confirm the new four-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain for the next AMG C63.
Mercedes pulled the plug early on the outgoing V8-powered C63 because of the pending CO2-related penalties on each vehicle sold. So 2021’s C63 AMG will be dramatically more efficient, while beating the current V8 C63 on power, torque and performance.
New AMG C63: powertrain specs
This is by far the most complex C-Class ever, combining combustion power with three electric support acts. AMG’s M139 turbo engine (as seen in the A45 S hyper hatch) is aided by an electric rear-wheel-drive unit and an integrated starter-generator (ISG). The turbo itself is AMG’s new electrically-assisted design, designed to help kill lag.
The way these components complement each other, working together to deliver huge and seamless outputs, will be key to helping the world get over the fact there’s no V8 under the bonnet. The most intriguing piece of engineering is the twin-power rear axle, through which the car deploys both its 201bhp e-motor and the 443bhp from its petrol four, relayed via the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system. The e-module operates independently from the transmission, which would otherwise struggle with the e-motor’s instant torque. The aggregate output will be more than 600bhp, making it far punchier than the new M3 Competition.
But what about those who will say that without the alluring, thunderstorm-like noise of the V8, the C63 will lose its USP? ‘Wait until you drive it,’ Jochen Hermann, AMG’s Chief Technical Officer, told CAR, ‘It’s different, of course, but really exciting. With the four-cylinder hybrid, you can get so much more power into a car, with so much more punch and even better efficiency. All I can say is get a test drive and we promise you it’s going to still be a very emotional car.’
Active all-wheel drive with Drift mode is standard, as are a nine-speed sport transmission, adaptive suspension and offset tyre sizes (bigger at the back) for better corner-exit traction and into-the-corner front-end grip.
The new C63’s electronics
These complex systems are marshalled by a new 400-volt electrical architecture, not the 48-volt circuit used in all other versions of the new C-Class. It improves on-the-move battery recharging, extending the electric-only range to around 40 miles if the driver goes gently.
The hybrid hardware adds approximately 200kg, taking the total close to 2000kg. That’s the bad news. The good news is a reduced front axle load – the four-cylinder motor is a full 60kg lighter than the eight – and perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution.
‘We’ve added parts, and parts mean weight,’ Hermann told CAR. ‘But with every single kilogram that we put into the car, we had to have an overboost of power and efficiency into the car.’
Thanks to hybridisation, official WLTP consumption is set to improve significantly from 26.6 to 93.9mpg, which looks great on paper but is of course a mirage on the road. Top speed on the other hand is a hard fact. Like the model it replaces, the new C63 AMG can do 181mph – even on empty batteries and with zero boost left – although the urge beyond 125mph may not quite match the ballsy V8.
Equally impressive is the acceleration time relayed by the Affalterbach grapevine. According to our source, the new C63 AMG does 0-62mph in 3.5sec, half a second quicker than the outgoing C63. It’s looking like an ideal playmate for the hottest BMW M4. Challenge accepted…