AMG’s secret war chest (2009)

Published: 25 April 2008

Expect to see Mercedes with even more crazed power outputs some time soon – but AMG is also preparing a new range of super saloons that juggle clout with cleanliness. CAR Online has been given exclusive insight into the tuner’s plans, which include new models, engines and even hybrids.

A mere 12 months after the launch of the acclaimed high-revving big-bore V8, AMG is tweaking its engine philosophy again. Why? Because the 6.2-litre unit lacks power and torque compared to the now defunct 5.5-litre Kompressor motor.

AMG engines lack power and torque, you say? Are you mad?!

Yes, we’d rarely call any AMG product under-nourished, but these guys at Affalterbach have a different take on brutality. They point out that the latest 6.2 has horrendous full-throttle consumption and emission figures. And it’s telling that Audi and BMW are also about to abandon their normally aspirated bent eights.

To eclipse the successful supercharged engine, AMG is now developing a twin-turbo 5.0-litre variant good for around 570bhp and 665lb ft of torque. AMG being AMG, there’s also an even meatier 700bhp/885lb ft version of this motor to replace the 612bhp V12. The ESP systems of Germany are going to be troubled with alarming frequency…

Hybrid AMGs – fast and frugal

AMG hasn’t got its head in the sand. It knows it must respond to the changing zeitgeist and so there will be a hybrid edition of the new V8, labelled BluePower. It is not quite clear yet whether the Swabians will use the Flybrid system by Flybrid Systems and X-Trac (it’s essentially a flywheel spinning at 60,000rpm in a vacuum producing mechanical energy), or a more conventional approach featuring a 100bhp electric motor integrated in the transmission housing.

Both applications are clearly performance-oriented, offering substantial on-demand overboost as well as restricted zero-emission capability. Another innovation worth mentioning is a new electrically operated direct-drive gearbox which is much faster and more efficient than any conventional slushmatic.

Click ‘Next’ to read more about hybrid AMGsAMG and the environmental question

Wolf Zimmerman, R&D boss at AMG, recently told CAR that the very philosophy of AMG is changing. ‘We’re almost at the top in terms of power now,’ he said. ‘There’s something in the pipeline, but we’re nearly at the top. Then cars will become less powerful.

‘As an engineer, I’m excited by the challenge of meeting ecological targets, but as an enthusiast I’m also sad. In the future there won’t be any cars like the S65. How can there be? If we fit direct injection and stop/start and every eco device, we could maybe cut emissions to 240g/km. But how are we going to then halve them again? We need to cut weight but customers are not willing to sacrifice any of the luxury and safety equipment.’

You can read a full version of Zimmerman’s interview in the current May 2008 issue of CAR Magazine.

Aren’t Mercedes developing more and more powerful cars themselves?

They certainly are. What irks the AMG boys is the fact that Mercedes AG is also preparing a number of sophisticated turbocharged V8s with a displacement of 4.0, 4.6 and 5.5 litres – and power outputs of 355, 435 and 544bhp. The two companies appear to be on a collision course…

AMG chief Volker Mornhinweg is on record claiming that his go-faster Mercs will boast a combined 40 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2012. That´s incidentally also the year the first plug-in hybrid wearing an AMG badge is due to go on sale.

Some of those CO2 cuts could come from diesel, of course. Forget the ho-hum C30 AMG – backing derv engines is a huge opportunity for AMG. However, CAR Online understands there is currently no active programme, which might be a mistake in view of the parent brand´s undisputed competence in this area.

Click ‘Next’ to read about the latest Black Series model and new Gullwing from AMGHybrids, diesels…. surely AMG will still produce some mad cars, won’t it?

You bet. Coming hot on the heels of today’s brawny SL63 AMG and ML63 AMG is the rather mental SL Black Series. You can read our latest scoop on fixed-head SL here, but suffice to say it will weigh 260kg less than its coupe-cabriolet base model and its uprated turbo V8 has a prodigious 670bhp.

And the madness won’t end there. In March 2010, AMG will finally unveil its gullwing coupe codenamed C197. It packs a transaxle drivetrain, eight-speed auto and the latest version of the high-revving 6.2-litre V8 into a sensuous new supercar shape.

CAR Online will publish more details on the Gullwing soon. Come back for more

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel