2024 Mercedes AMG C63 S E, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance Gets Half As Much Engine, Way More Power
Forget the V-8. The most potent C63 in history has a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain and packs a 670-hp punch.
There probably hasn’t been a launch of a mainstream AMG car that’s been more carefully choreographed than the reveal of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance. In this story, we can talk about the mightiest C-Class’s redesigned exterior and the hardware underneath. Next month we’ll be able to tell you what it feels like from the passenger seat. And sometime before the end of the year, we’ll finally be allowed behind the wheel to put AMG’s potent new compact sport sedan through its paces.
Why the wary waltz? Well, the folks at Affalterbach are perhaps just a little nervous about how this new C63 will be received by the AMG faithful. There were some grumbles in 2015 when those fans learned the W205 version of the C63 would be powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 rather than the thunderous naturally aspirated 6.2-liter engine (the ambitiously named “6.3”) of AMG legend. But that development pales in comparison to what’s coming for the new W206 series model: The V-8 is gone, replaced by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain.
Park Your Prius Preconceptions
The new C63 might be a hybrid, but it’s nothing like a Prius. In fact, many of its key technologies are derived from a 1.6-liter hybrid that is the most advanced and highest performance powertrain ever to carry the three-pointed star: the EQ10 Power+ powertrain used in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racers.
The all-wheel-drive C63 S E Performance packs a system output of 670 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque, enough, says AMG to punch the 4654-pound sedan to 60 mph in less than 3.4 seconds, and to a top speed of 174 mph with the optional AMG Driver’s Package fitted.
For the record, the turbocharged 4.0-liter C63 S we tested back in 2015 had a mere 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and despite its near-mythical status among AMG aficionados, the 6.2-liter powered C63 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 quicker to 60 mph than either.
More impressive than the headline numbers, perhaps, is how they’re made.
The C63’s hybrid powertrain consists of a 469-hp version of AMG’s M139l inline four under the hood, and a 201-hp electric motor mounted at the rear axle. “What’s different is we didn’t put the e-motor ‘on top’ of the internal combustion engine,” says AMG development engineer Peter Szalay. “Instead, we have a ‘virtual’ engine that provides the output demanded by the driver in the fastest, most responsive way, using the best characteristics of both.”
What that means in simple terms is the outputs of the internal combustion engine and the e-motors are treated separately.
The gas engine drives all four wheels through the AMG Speedshift multi-clutch nine-speed automated transmission. The e-motor drives the rear wheels through its own automated two-speed transmission, which shifts to high gear at 87 mph, and an integrated electronically controlled limited-slip differential. It can also send torque forward via the propeller shaft to a clutch at the rear of the nine-speed transmission, from which it can be distributed to the front wheels as well.
Szalay says this setup avoids having to put the e-motor’s torque through the Speedshift transmission, which is torque-limited to about 736 lb-ft, and allows it to freely distribute torque to the front and rear axles as needed. But more importantly, Szalay says, if the e-motor were sandwiched between the engine and transmission, as is the usual practice with many hybrids, the total output would be lower because the power peaks of the two propulsion units occur at different revs. That’s why the C63’s peak power number is a simple sum of the ICE and e-motor outputs.
Key to making the C63’s powertrain intricate ballet work is the AMG-developed 400-volt electrical architecture and high-performance 6.1-kWh battery also mounted at the rear of the car.
Though the compact 196-pound battery can be recharged via a plug and will deliver a pure EV driving range of eight miles, that’s not what it’s primarily designed to do. Instead, it’s designed to deliver rapid bursts of energy when required by the e-motor, and to be able to be replenished rapidly, either by the engine, or via recuperation rates of more than 120 kW under heavy braking or in the highest of the four available regen settings.
To survive this sort of punishment, the battery features a cooling system that circulates a high-tech coolant directly around each of its 580 cells to ensure it’s always at the optimal temperate to deliver maximum performance, as the basic operating strategy of the C63’s powertrain is to deliver maximum power when the driver demands it, just as in the Formula 1 car. A kickdown function ensures the full 201 hp of the e-motor is available on demand in any of the C63’s eight drive modes.
The 400-volt electrical architecture even plays a role in the internal combustion engine. As in the C43 and SL43, it features a 48-volt electric turbocharger that delivers faster response time. In the C63 the turbocharger is larger and powered by the 400-volt system. Also integrated into that system is the belt-driven starter-alternator.
Making Use Of All That Muscle
The new C63 is the first with all-wheel drive. Not only is it key to managing the hybrid powertrain’s hefty power flows, “our customers were asking for it,” says Peter Szagay. “It was the next logical step.” All-wheel drive is even available in pure EV mode, helpful for crawling out of icy driveways on early winter mornings.
Installing the e-motor, battery pack, and associated hardware all at the back axle has delivered a 50/50 front to rear weight distribution. Standard suspension is by way of steel springs with AMG’s adaptive shocks. There are three different damping maps, including Comfort, Sport, and Sport+.
Also standard is rear-wheel steering, though as this is an AMG car, the system’s operating parameters are different from those on 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 turn-in response. Over that 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 wheels are 19-inch alloys with 20s available as an option. The tire setup is staggered; on the 20-inch-wheel equipped cars we saw the fronts were 265/35 and the rears 275/35.
Form Follows Function
The redesigned W206 C-Class features forms, surfaces and graphics echoing those found on the S-Class and the facelifted E-Class. In true AMG tradition, the C43 we drove earlier this year added more aggressive styling elements, including the menacing vertical bar AMG 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’s function behind much of the form. The C63’s front track is 3.0-in wider—shades of the sainted 500E—and the wheelbase four-tenths of an inch longer than that of every other C-Class. The longer wheelbase and the need to package a more robust cooling package at the front of the car, means the C 63 is also 2.0 inches longer overall 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 merely evacuates hot air from the engine bay rather than helping generate downforce. If you want more downforce, order the optional aerodynamic 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 is not 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 pretending to be ready for light off-roading, we’ll only be getting the sedan. The trunk floor is higher than that of the regular C-Class sedan, but it is flat and there’s still decent load space. AMG has done a very good job of discreetly packaging the hybrid powertrain’s e-motor, battery, and related hardware.
Inside, the C63 is awash with familiar AMG themes: Alcantara and contrast stitching, carbon fiber and splashes of color. New performance front seats are 4.4 pounds lighter than those of the outgoing model, and the dial under the left spoke of the AMG performance steering wheel can be used to change regen modes.
The Waiting Is The Hardest Part
While we can’t tell what the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance sounds like or what it feels like when you’re being hurled around a test track by AMG chief technical officer Jochen Hermann until next month, what we can tell you is the first cars are expected to arrive in the U.S. late next year.