1. There’s no V8 – repeat, no V8…
Yep, you read that right.
In an alarming departure from the AMG norm, the new C63 S does not have a V8 engine. We’re not going to lie, this feels vaguely sacrilegious given the AMG brand is synonymous with enormous eight-cylinder power – and an equally enormous eight-cylinder soundtrack.
Why? Because while electrification is coming, AMG isn’t yet ready to build a C63 without an engine. So, instead, it’s built this, the part-electric C63 S Turbo E Performance.
Turbo E Performance is AMG speak for ‘fast plug-in hybrid’, and Mercedes would be delighted if you started to think of this new C63 S not as a normal sports saloon but as a C-Class stuffed with F1 and AMG One hybrid hypercar technology.
It certainly warrants the ‘Performance’ tag. Power may now come courtesy of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, rather than a twin-turbo V8, but there’s plenty of it. The new C63 S is good for 671bhp and a massive 752lb ft of torque. With all-wheel drive traction, that’s enough grunt to go 0-62mph in 3.4sec and hit 174mph.
Need some points of reference? The equivalent BMW M car, the M3, musters just 503bhp. Even the bigger, more expensive M5 Competition can ‘only’ manage 617bhp and 553lb ft.
2. It’s a true heavyweight
All that performance comes courtesy of a high-tuned four-cylinder engine in the nose, a small (6.1kWh) but punchy battery under the boot floor and a 201bhp electric motor on the rear axle. And if that sounds like a heavyweight solution, well, that’s because it is.
While the additional weight of the battery and electric motor is at least partially offset by the move from a big V8 to a relatively modest inline four, the C63’s structure has also been heavily modified. The engine bay is longer than that of a standard C-Class, as is the wheelbase, so there’s additional structural bracing in strategic points. The front track is also wider, to benefit handling.
The result is a big, heavy car. The new C63 S weighs 2111kg as a saloon; 2145kg as an estate. That’s nearly 300kg heavier than the M3, which explains why the BMW is only 0.2sec slower 0-62mph with far less power.
3. There’s a tiny bit of electric-only range
You would, perhaps, be moved to forgive the new C63 S’s massive complexity and kerb weight were it capable of miles and miles of electric-only travel. An AMG that starts without the thunder of a V8 might sound weird but the world is changing, and already supercars like the Ferrari 296 GTB and McLaren Artura have proved that 20 or so miles of near-silent, neighbour-friendly electric range is actually a very handy thing. Having an electric motor around also helps eliminate turbo lag, for an instant throttle response.
Unfortunately, clever though the AMG’s battery undoubtedly is (it’s heavily liquid-cooled, so the hybrid system can work it hard without it overheating), it’s so small that the C63 S can only manage around 8 miles before the four-cylinder engine must fire up.
AMG is desperate to make hybrid technology sexy, and to build a clear link between its fast part-electric road cars and its F1 programme. But, on paper at least, the new C63 S doesn’t look like progress. Perhaps it’ll make sense when we drive it.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S: £90k (est), 671bhp four-cylinder hybrid, 3.4sec 0-62mph, 174mph