2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance First Look: V-8 Power, Four Cylinder
There has probably not been a mainstream AMG car launch that has been more carefully choreographed than the reveal of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance. In this story, we can talk about the redesigned exterior of the Most powerful class C and hardware below. Next month we can tell you what it feels like from the passenger seat. And sometime before the end of the year, we’ll finally be allowed to get behind the wheel to put AMG’s potent new compact sports sedan through its paces.
Why the wary waltz? Well, the folks at Affalterbach might be a bit worried about how this new C63 will be received by the AMG faithful. There were some grunts in 2015 when those fans learned that the W205 version of the C63 would be powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 rather than the thundering 6.2-liter naturally aspirated engine (the ambitious name “6.3”) from AMG. Legend. But that development pales in comparison to what’s to come for the new W206 series model: the V-8 is gone, replaced by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain.
Park Your Prius Preconceived Ideas
The all-wheel-drive C63 SE Performance offers 670 system hp and 752 lb-ft of torque, enough, AMG says, to push the 4,654-pound sedan to 60 mph in under 3.4 seconds, and to a top speed of 174 mph with the optional AMG driver’s package. For the record, the turbocharged 4.0-liter C63 S we tested in 2015 had just 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and despite its near-legendary status among AMG aficionados, the 6-liter C63 engine .2 liters that we tested in 2011 could only muster 481 hp and 443 lb-ft. The new C63 will be at least six to eight tenths of a second faster to 60 mph than both.
More impressive than headlines, perhaps, is how they’re crafted.
The C63’s hybrid powertrain consists of a 469hp version of AMG’s M139l inline-four under the hood and a 201hp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. “What’s different is that we didn’t put the electric motor ‘above’ the internal combustion engine,” says AMG development engineer Peter Szalay. “Instead, we have a ‘virtual’ engine that delivers the power the driver demands in the quickest and most responsive way, using the best characteristics of both.”
This means in simple terms that the outputs of the internal combustion engine and the electric motors are handled separately.
The petrol engine drives all four wheels via the AMG Speedshift nine-speed multi-clutch automated transmission. The electric motor drives the rear wheels via its own two-speed automated transmission, which upshifts at 87 mph, and an integrated electronically controlled limited-slip differential. It can also send torque forward via the driveshaft to a clutch at the rear of the nine-speed transmission, from which it can also be distributed to the front wheels.
Szalay says this setup avoids having to run torque from the electric motor through the Speedshift transmission, which is limited to around 736 lb-ft, and allows it to freely distribute torque to the front and rear axles as needed. But more importantly, says Szalay, if the electric motor were sandwiched between the engine and the transmission, as is common practice with many hybrids, the total output would be lower because the power peaks of both propulsion units occur at different speeds. This is why the C63’s peak power number is a simple sum of the outputs of the ICE and the electric motor.
Key to operating the complex ballet of the C63’s powertrain is the 400-volt electrical architecture developed by AMG and the high-performance 6.1 kWh battery also mounted in the rear of the car.
While the compact 196-pound battery can be recharged via an outlet and will provide a pure EV driving range of eight miles, that’s not what it’s primarily designed for. Instead, it’s designed to deliver quick bursts of energy when required by the electric motor, and to be able to be replenished quickly, either by the motor or via recuperation rates of over 120kW when braking. abrupt or in the highest of the four regeneration settings available.
To survive that kind of punishment, the battery has a cooling system that circulates high-tech coolant directly around each of its 580 cells to ensure it’s always at the optimum temperature to deliver maximum performance, as the basic operating strategy of the C63’s powertrain is to deliver maximum power when the driver demands it, as in Formula 1. A downshift function ensures that the electric motor’s 201 hp is available at on demand in one of the C63’s eight drive modes.
The 400-volt electrical architecture even plays a part in the internal combustion engine. As in the C43 and SL43, it features a 48-volt electric turbocharger that provides faster response time. In the C63, the turbocharger is larger and powered by the 400-volt system. The belt-driven starter-alternator is also integrated into this system.
Use all that muscle
The new C63 is the first to be fitted with all-wheel drive. Not only is it essential for handling the high power flows of the hybrid powertrain, “our customers have been asking for it,” says Peter Szagay. “It was the next logical step.” All-wheel drive is even available in pure EV mode, useful for getting out of icy driveways on early winter mornings.
Installing the electric motor, battery and associated hardware on the rear axle allowed for a 50/50 weight distribution front to rear. The standard suspension is by steel springs with adaptive dampers from AMG. There are three different damping maps including Comfort, Sport and Sport+.
Rear-wheel steering is also standard, but since this is an AMG car, the operating parameters of the system are different from those of the regular C-Class. At speeds up to 62 mph, the rear wheels will steer up to 2.5 degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts to improve cornering response. Beyond this speed, the wheels will steer up to 0.7 degrees in phase (the same direction) with the fronts to help with high speed stability.
Standard rims are 19-inch alloys with 20s available as an option. The tire configuration is staggered; on cars with 20-inch wheels, we saw the fronts were 265/35 and the rears 275/35.
Form follows function
The redesigned W206 C-Class features shapes, surfaces and graphics echoing those of the S-Class and facelifted E-Class. In true AMG tradition, the C43 we drove earlier this year added more aggressive styling cues, including the menacing AMG vertical-bar grille, unique wheels, quad exhausts and a spoiler on the trunk lid. The C63 ups the ante with a unique front clip and other bespoke styling details.
But there is function behind much of the form. The C63’s front track is 3.0 inches wider, in line with the holy 500E, and the wheelbase is four-tenths of an inch longer than any other C-Class. the need to pack a sturdier cooling package at the front of the car means the C 63 is also 2.0 inches longer than the regular C-Class.
The rear-facing vent in the hood is a nod to the AMG GT3 and GT4 race cars, but it simply exhausts hot air from the engine compartment rather than helping to generate downforce. If you want more downforce, order the optional aero package, which will give you a more aggressive front slipper and a bigger spoiler on the trailing edge of the trunk. The standard rear diffuser isn’t there for show: it’s functional.
Speaking of which, the C63 will launch in both sedan and wagon formats, but because Americans won’t buy a wagon unless it’s jacked up and claims to be ready for light off-roading, we won’t be getting than the sedan. The trunk floor is higher than that of the regular C-Class sedan, but it’s flat and there’s still decent cargo space. AMG has done a pretty good job of discreetly packaging the electric motor, battery, and related hardware for the hybrid powertrain.
Inside, the C63 is packed with familiar AMG themes: Alcantara and contrast stitching, carbon fiber and color accents. The new performance front seats weigh 4.4 pounds less than those of the outgoing model, and the dial under the left spoke of the AMG performance steering wheel can be used to change regeneration modes.
The waiting is the hardest part
While we can’t say what the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance looks like or what it looks like when you’re tossed around a test track by AMG Technical Director Jochen Hermann until next month, what we can tell you, it’s the first cars slated to arrive in the US late next year.