Deciphering Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG's Engine Plans

2023 mercedes amg c63 s e performance
Deciphering Mercedes's V-8 Engine PlansCharlie Magee - Car and Driver
  • Mercedes-Benz has been making powertrain changes across its lineup even after it announced a zero-emissions, "electric only" road map.

  • After a few moves such as putting a high-performance four-cylinder into the C-class, the automaker seems to be reconsidering the V-8.

  • It's worth noting that 11 of the 17 model ranges offered under the Mercedes, AMG, and Maybach brand names could accommodate a V-8.

When AMG started work on the C63 S E Performance sedan (pictured above) and wagon more than six years ago, the Electric Only strategy postulated by Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius still stood strong. Global EV sales were picking up speed, and the EU had agreed to ban internal-combustion-engined cars by 2035. And one of the jazziest drivers of the Mercedes zero-emission strategy was an exceptionally complex hybridized high-performance four-cylinder engine. In its most extreme form, it debuted in the 1049-hp AMG One supercar inspired by the AMG Petronas F1 racer.

A mildly detuned yet still quite radical version, rated at 671 horsepower, found its way into that new top-of-the-line C-class, which went up in price dramatically, although it had just lost that brawny, vocal, and prestigious V-8. The marketing department's idea was of course to transplant F1 technology into a super sporty road car, but while Lewis Hamilton won the F1 world championship for Mercedes from 2017 to 2020, the AMG One first shown in 2017 still has not fully recovered from a series of teething troubles that repeatedly delayed production and resulted in a relatively lukewarm reception.

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The AMG One on track.Mercedes-Benz AG

The AMG C63 S E Performance was launched last year in Spain on the road and the Ascari circuit. Although the performance data left nothing to be desired, the press criticized the car for a distinct lack of emotion and for the poor real-life efficiency which barely matched the more musical trademark V-8 when the driver pulled out all the stops. Not surprisingly, incoming orders were below target as dealers struggled to sell the four-pot C63 against cheaper competitors equipped with six- and eight-cylinder engines.

A V-8 CLE May Be Coming... in 2027

Earlier this year, Mercedes introduced an official 18 percent online discount on readily available models of what should have become the subbrand's bestseller. In April, AMG canceled the nearly production-ready CLE63 S E Performance due to dire sales projections. At the same time, R&D reportedly started working on a V-8 flagship version powered by an evolution of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter unit dubbed M177, which is also fitted to the GLE63 and G63 SUVs. The CLE may not go on sale before model year 2027, when it is due for a mid-cycle makeover.

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The G63’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8.Mercedes-AMG

Although a press person refused to comment on future engine variations, the definitive CLE63 should be good for at least 600 horsepower and 774 pound-feet of torque, including 20 hp on demand and 148 extra pound-feet provided by the integrated starter-generator (ISG). In terms of twist action, 774 pound-feet is probably all the nine-speed Speedshift TCT transmission can handle, but in the course of the next development phase, the maximum power output of the ultimate M177 may move a little closer to the C63's combined 671 hp generated by the highly tuned 2.0-liter four and the 201-hp e-motor.


For reference, check out the hybridized setup on the AMG GT four-door, which is rated at 630 horsepower. In PHEV guise, the same engine is even good for up to 831 hp and 1084 pound-feet, so there is plenty of room for variations for the all but confirmed V-8-engined E63, which must take on the Audi RS6 replacement and the 718-hp M5 PHEV, to name only its chief rivals.

What to Expect

So what's going to happen to the C63 and the GLC63? It depends almost entirely on the remaining life cycle of these two models, which may be extended by four years through 2032 simply because the combustion engine is still far from dead. Such a move would almost certainly require a second facelift in the course of which the little-loved four may be replaced by the iconic V-8, sources suggest.

According to the Affalterbach grapevine, the company would prefer to carry over the existing block and restrict costly updates to the cylinder head and the ancillaries including the electric turbos. Even though upcoming emission norms like EU7 are now effectively less stringent than originally announced, a boost in displacement to, say, 4.4 liters might be a comparatively easy and inexpensive alternative solution.

With gasoline engines safe at least through 2035 even in the most restrictive markets (China recently gave the ICE carte blanche to 2060), one more efficiency- and performance-focused redo for this iconic powerplant looks like a no-brainer. After all, 11 out of the 17 model ranges offered under the Mercedes, AMG, and Maybach brand names can accommodate a V-8.

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