Bad news first: The V8 era at Mercedes-AMG is officially over. The Thunderous M177 4.0-liter twin-turbo eight-cylinder that’s powered every AMG 63-series muscle machine since 2015 is not long for this earth. Here’s what will replace it: A Formula 1-inspired hybrid drivetrain that marries the world’s most powerful production-car four-cylinder (with an electrically-boosted turbocharger, no less) to an electric motor driving the rear axle through a two-speed gearbox. In the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance, the first AMG to sport the all-new drivetrain, which means a maximum of 671 hp and a whopping 752 lb-ft of torque. Yeah, that’ll help us get over the loss of the V8.
The all-new C63 marks a whole new era at AMG, a company that’s spent nearly half a century turning Mercedes V8s into raucous tire-shredders. The ’24 C63’s enormously elaborate drivetrain starts from an impressive foundation: The M139L 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, first developed by AMG for the Mercedes-AMG A45, CLA45 and GLA45. In those models, the tiny turbo engine was the most powerful four-cylinder ever fitted to a production vehicle, cranking out 416 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Now, thanks to a nifty electric turbocharger setup, this engine pumps out even more power: 469 hp at 6,750 rpm and 402 lb-ft from 5,000 to 5,500 rpm. That means the 1,991-cc M139L shatters its own record as the most powerful four-cylinder production in history, pumping out a hair less than 235 hp per liter of displacement — or put another way, a touch over 117 hp per cylinder.
That output comes courtesy of a newly enlarged turbo with electric assist, meaning the turbo can spool up on electric power before exhaust pressure takes over, helping to eliminate lag and create sharper response. This is the first production-car application of this electric turbocharger technology, which comes directly from today’s Formula 1 hybrid drivetrains and takes advantage of the new C63’s 400-volt electrical architecture.
Of course, the new huge turbocharger is not the only instance of electric power boost. The new C63 has a 201-hp, 236 lb-ft electric motor driving the rear axle through a two-speed gearbox, assisting the gasoline engine during hard acceleration. With AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive with Drift Mode, the C63 puts a maximum of 671 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels, with the gasoline engine driving through AMG’s nine-speed automatic transmission with a wet clutch in place of a torque converter for snappier acceleration and gear shifts.
Mercedes says the new muscle sedan can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, and power from both the longitudinally-mounted gas engine and the rear-axle electric motor can be shifted to the front axle when the rear wheels slip. The two-speed gearbox that transmits the rear-axle motor’s torque shifts automatically based on speed and load; the lower of the two ratios is good for up to 87 mph. The engine delivers 94 hp continuously, with the full 201 hp available in 10-second bursts.
The 400-volt, 6.1-kWh, 196-lb, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery driving the axle motor rests above the rear axle for optimum weight distribution. While the new C63 is technically a plug-in hybrid, and can reach speeds of up to 81 mph on electric power alone, Mercedes-AMG was quick to point out in a press release that “the battery is designed for fast power delivery and draw rather than longest possible range.”
The new C63 bears a passing resemblance to lesser C-class sedans, but benefits from a ton of AMG-specific changes. The wheelbase has been stretched by 0.4 inches, with the front-end bodywork lengthened by 2.2 inches. Overall, the new C63 is a full three inches wider at the front fenders and 3.3 inches longer nose-to-tail. The new hybrid muscle sedan rides on standard 19-inch staggered wheels and tires, with 20s optional.
The compact performance sedan has standard rear-wheel steering, which makes the car more nimble in tight turns and more stable during high-speed highway maneuvers, and rides on Mercedes’ AMG Ride Control adaptive suspension with steel springs. The new C63 offers a whopping eight drive modes: Electric, Comfort, Battery Hold, Sport, Sport+, Race, Slippery and Individual, each of which tweaks the drivetrain output, steering, suspension and sound.
Because, yes, this is a four-cylinder hybrid, and that means AMG had to resort to augmented drivetrain noises to replace the hammering rumble of that old twin-turbo V8. A single loudspeaker in the front bumper and a two-speaker soundbar at the rear emanate warning noises when the C63 is driving in pure EV mode; when traveling under internal-combustion power, the system picks up sound from a pressure sensor in the exhaust system and “enrich[es] it further before it’s emitted in the interior via the entertainment sound system, thus making it possible to experience the signature AMG sound.” The C63 has iron-rotor brakes with six-piston calipers up front and single-piston calipers in the rear, plus four levels of regenerative braking ranging from nearly zero regen to full one-pedal driving.
Inside, it has screens and screens and ambient lighting and shiny trim and screens and screens.
Mercedes-AMG has not yet revealed when the new C63 SE Performance will go on sale, nor has the automaker disclosed the price. We will certainly learn all of that info before Mercedes invites journalists to drive this vehicle for themselves.
We’ve known for awhile that Mercedes-AMG would be heading in this direction. Big V8s are going out of vogue (even if the AMG 4.0-liter V8 wasn’t that big in the grand scheme of things). Some gearheads will weep and gnash over this. But if the alternative is stuff like this — a C-class with more horsepower and torque than ever before, with pure plug-in EV driving capability and F1-inspired turbo and hybrid tech — it feels a little silly crying over what’s gone to the past