The 2023 Mercedes-AMG C63 is absolutely game-changing
V8s have always ruled the roost at AMG. Whether it was the 355-horsepower 5.5-litre V8 that so thrilled sedan owners in the original “Hammer”; or the 503-hp 4.0-litre V8 that powers the current C63 S, the formula has remained pretty much the same. Oh, turbochargers (sometimes two) and superchargers have been added, and, in the case of that Hammer, AMG had to design all-new double-overhead-cam four-valve cylinder heads to replace the low-tech single-cam originals. But the common denominator was — big cubes or small, turbochargers or no — eight pistons.
No more. The all-new 2023 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance breaks tradition in the most dramatic of fashions, and is powered by a seemingly lowly 2.0-litre four. Worse yet — for purists, at least — it’s a hybrid. A plug-in hybrid, no less, complete with battery and electric motors. Surely this is the end of the C63’s reign as the highest-performing of all AMGs.
Uhm, not quite.
As for the inclusion of Formula One technology, AMG says the C63’s “electrically-assisted exhaust gas turbocharger” is very much based on the units that propel Lewis Hamilton’s Petronas F1 car to glory. Now, Mercedes has used electric turbos before. High-performance versions of the current 3.0-litre inline-six, for instance, use both an electrically-powered supercharger and an exhaust-driven turbocharger to maximize their efficiency.
And, because the electric drive all but eliminates turbo lag, Mercedes says the turbocharger can be made “significantly larger,” big enough to force-feed the little four the fuel-air mixture it needs to produce a whopping 402 pound-feet of torque from just 2.0 litres. The gas engine then transmits all this power to the ground via AMG’s AMG Speedshift MCT 9G transmission, which incorporates a motorcycle-like “wet” clutch to replace the nine-speed’s traditional torque converter.