The C 63 S has it all for the German sedan aficionado who’s looking to strike the perfect balance between luxury and comfort, and sheer ball out RWD fun. The C63 S was quite a notch above the C 43, delivering roaring V8 performance in a compact luxury car that wouldn’t quit.
Like everything else that is currently ephemeral in the automotive world, the large displacement pleasure couldn’t last forever and Mercedes-AMG had to reinvent the C 63 S to keep up with the times.
Now bearing the oddly complex designation of C 63 S E Performance, the wildest C-Class perpetuates its mission by retaining a combustion engine, but adding hybridization (and not just any hybridization!)
We recently chatted with Jochen Hermann, Chief Technical Officer of Mercedes-AMG, in order to go over a few technical aspects of the new C 63 S E Performance.
A Balance that Leans Towards Performance Rather Than Efficiency
The first question that comes to mind here is: why didn’t Mercedes-AMG throw a full electric C 63 into the world right away, considering the world is currently making the big EV shift ?
“AMG will have its own electric platform to work with soon. But for now, the step is way too much for us. We are still working with the C-Class body and chassis and there is still much we can do with it. Adapting it to full electric wouldn’t be the right thing to do as this point,” says Hermann.
Instead of whipping out a complete EV, Mercedes-AMG showed us how it could “Frankenstein” a powertrain that takes the best out of internal combustion, and match it with the best of battery electric propulsion. First off, the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine isn’t the one you will find in your usual C-Class. It delivers up to 469 horsepower on its own, making it the most powerful four-cylinder turbocharged engine on the face of the Earth.
The C 63 S E Performance also has an electric motor sitting on the rear axle, and this one is fed by a very unique 6.1 kWh battery. This brings the 4MATIC+ AWD system on board, but it is unlike any other all-wheel drive system out there - it is basically a combination of mechanical and electric.
Like many performance hybrids on the market, it has a “virtual” limited slip differential that can distribute torque accordingly by modulating the electric motor in the rear. However, there is still a mechanical link between the front and rear axles. If slip occurs on the rear axle, the drive power of the electric motor can also be transferred to the front to increase traction. In the end, it’s basically a combination of two AWD systems.
The combined system output sits at an available 671 horsepower when the Overboost function is activated. Combined maximum system torque 752 lb-ft, making this new AMG capable of leaping from 0 to 100 km/h in only 3.4 seconds.
The boost function is basically a jolt coming from the battery that throws a supplemental 80 kW of power for 10 seconds at a time. When the powertrain is operating at its normal output, the combined output is still 561 horsepower. However, AMG assures that the recuperation systems are so good that the system can be deployed frequently (we’ll have to give that a good old Car Guide test!)
The 400V System Opens a World of Hybrid Opportunities
Mercedes-AMG squeezed everything the automotive world had to offer in terms of hybrid technologies. Typically, mild hybrids who focus on efficiency will be able to help out components like turbochargers and propulsion elements like transmissions are of the 48V nature. The AMG C 43, for example, is equipped with an electric turbocharger that is helped out by a 48V motor to increase response and reduce lag. On the C 63 S E Performance, you get the full 400V at hand to power those electric systems.
tremendous amounts of engineering have gone into the battery, which borrows two key aspects from the manufacturer’s Formula 1 engineering advancements: performance ratio per kilogram and a state-of the art cooling system that regulates the temperature for optimal performance. It sits atop the electric motor on the rear axle, and only weighs 89 kilograms for a power density of 1.7 kW (2.3hp) per kg. The battery uses high-tech coolant that flows around each of its 560 cells individually.
The C 63 S E Performance has PHEV technology, so it can drive in full-electric mode. But considering the strong emphasis on performance, it will only let you do so for 13 kilometres. “Maximum range is not a priority, but drivers can use this mode to quietly drive home or leave in the morning without disturbing the neighbours,” says Jochen Hermann.
But What About the Signature AMG Sound… ?
If you’ve driven anything AMG, you know that the sound plays a big role in the driving experience. And as manufacturers move their high profile products towards electrification, the mechanical sounds coming from large displacement engines are giving way to a much more discreet symphony. The C 63 S E Performance uses a pressure sensor in the exhaust paired with speakers to amplify the four-cylinder’s roar. But like Jochen Hermann says, it is not a simulated V8 sound. “The car will have its own signature sound. But beyond that, sound is emotion. And drivers will have to rely on all the components of the car to live the AMG experience.”