And So We Drive

Next Mercedes C63 AMG to Feature 500hp+ Electrified Inline-4

Autocar today reported that the next generation C63 AMG, scheduled to launch in 2022, will be powered not by a big V8 but by a 2.0 liter turbocharged and electrified inline-four putting out more than 500 horsepower.

The new C63 will be offered in saloon (sedan), coupé and convertible bodystyles, with the next C43 likely to be sold in those three guises as well as an estate version.

Other AMG models set to run the new electrified driveline include successor models to today’s GLC 43 and GLC 63 SUVs, the GLC 43 Coupé and the GLC 63 Coupé.

Autocar has been told the M139 engine will adopt a 48V integrated starter motor similar to that already used by the turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder M256 unit, which powers the CLS 53 4Matic+ and other recent new AMG models.

In the CLS 53 4Matic+, the gearbox-mounted starter motor provides an additional 22bhp and 184lb ft of electric boosting. In the next C63, however, it is set to be tuned to provide significantly more power in combination with a similar torque loading.

Reactions from the automotive internet have been a mix of “no comment,” and lamentation on the death of the V8. Greg Kable, in a separate piece for Autocar, for example, said:

The bombastic V8 in today’s C63 is an integral part of the model’s character and gives it a USP above six-cylinder rivals from BMW and Audi. Recreating that character will be extremely difficult with a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, but AMG’s engineers have as much technical know-how and financial might as anyone to make a success of it.

AMG Mercedes’ are extreme, and their character is to take their respective base model cars to 11. Historically, they’ve done this with high displacement engines – V8s, in the case of the C63 AMG. But I don’t see any reason it has to be that way.

Like it or hate it, Mercedes invests heavily in motorsport, the highlight of which is currently its very successful Formula 1 team. Right now, the emphasis in Formula 1 is highly-strung, small engines, which are both turbocharged and electrified.¹ This powertrain technology is not only cutting edge, but also a core competency of Mercedes-Benz specifically. Why wouldn’t we want these engines in the top-of-the-line AMGs?

We should be applauding Mercedes for installing in its top-end cars a motor that will be both highly performant and unique to the brand. Unveiling a next-gen C63 with a tiny, turbocharged, and electrified I4 kills a few birds with one stone for Mercedes. It helps to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards; it showcases Mercedes’ hard-won motorsports pedigree in turbo-hybrid engines; and, finally, it enables Mercedes to ship a car that will have a unique character. Amid a sea of performance cars that we all criticize for feeling the same, I’m excited to see a new performance sedan that isn’t yet another turbocharged V8.

I hope this report is accurate. I hope Mercedes will not only ship the next-generation of top of the line AMG cars with this I4, but also that it will embrace the character of that engine, and not try to make it feel like a big old V8.

Let’s be clear about what’s happening here: in an age in which all cars are starting to feel the same, Mercedes is shipping a top of the line car, with a top of the line, motorsport-derived powertrain, which will be different from its competitors’ cars and from everything else that came before it. If that isn’t your cup of tea, I totally understand. I’m not sure I’d have one, myself, and if you don’t want that, there are not only Mercedes’ competitors to choose from, but also current-generation AMGs.

But shipping the next-generation C63 AMG is not only obviously on brand, but also a welcome sign of progress for the performance car segment. I can’t wait to see one.

Notes

  1. Admittedly, the current emphasis in F1 on small-displacement hybrids is also a like-it-or-hate-it issue, but it's where we are, and it's absolutely where the money is being spent on ICE-based powertrain technology.
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by Tyler Carbone