Known for its fire-breathing V8s and power-dense turbo fours, Mercedes-AMG has announced it will reinvent its range in the 2020s by placing a major focus on electrification. Hybrid, and even electric, sports cars are around the corner.
Mercedes-Benz’s high-performance arm started dabbling in electrification when it released the Project One, a limited-edition hypercar powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain sourced from its hugely successful Formula One cars. As we reported in 2018, some of the technology developed for this project will trickle down to the more accessible members of the company’s range, including a few models that haven’t been publicly revealed yet.
Although regulations are pushing AMG into electrified territory, the company explained it doesn’t want to simply build a hybrid system that saves fuel. It hopes electrification will make its cars better, and that’s a tall order to fill because hybrids and EVs are almost always heavier than nonelectrified models. AMG’s first series-produced hybrids will receive an electric motor developed in-house and tuned to develop up to 201 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. It will be integrated into the rear axle, a layout that bypasses the engine’s transmission for more direct power delivery, and shifted by its own two-speed automatic gearbox that engages second gear at about 87 mph.
Electricity will be stored in a lithium-ion battery pack also designed in-house. Interestingly, its 560 cells are cooled individually to help the unit cope with high-performance driving. The 6.1-kilowatt-hour pack weighs 196 pounds.
AMG’s plug-in hybrid models will offer motorists six standard driving modes called Electric, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, and Individual. Electric will be available until 81 mph. Details like driving range and charging times haven’t been released yet, and they will likely vary depending on the type of car in which the system is installed.
It’s too early to tell which car(s) will inaugurate the plug-in hybrid technology, but rumors claim the honor will go to the four-door version of the GT. In this configuration, the system will work with a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 engine to put more than 804 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque under the driver’s right foot, figures that will unlock a zero-to-60-mph time of under three seconds. AMG’s bigger model should all receive this drivetrain.
Moving down in the lineup, the next-generation C63 will downsize from an eight- to a four-cylinder engine. In this configuration, the hybrid system will work jointly with a 2.0-liter four already used in the CLA 45, among other models, and an electric turbocharger that will provide boost without lag. AMG stopped short of revealing the system’s total output, but it promised the next C63 will be markedly quicker than the outgoing, V8-powered car.
Full details about AMG’s hybrid system will emerge later in 2021. Looking ahead, the company’s portfolio of high-performance models will grow with the addition of several battery-electric models based on future Mercedes-Benz models, like the EQE. They’ll use dual electric motors to offer performance comparable to a turbocharged V8.