Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance: first look at powerful new plug-in hybrid


MERCEDES have unveiled their new Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance, a plug-in hybrid which brings Formula 1 technology from the track to the Autobahn in the form of their most powerful C-Class super saloon/estate yet.

The model's traditional V8 lump has been replaced by a rear-mounted 204hp two-speed electric motor supporting a 476hp two-litre turbo engine mounted longitudinally at the front. The electric motor is mounted beneath the boot on the rear axle and powered by a lightweight 400v AMG high-performance battery, while the internally named M139l engine is the world's first series-production engine to be turbocharged with an F1-style electric exhaust gas turbocharger – making it the most powerful production four-cylinder around.

With a maximum 680hp and 752lb ft of torque on tap from this potent combination, the electric support of the exhaust gas turbocharger eliminates turbo lag while the instant punch of the electric motor ensures the fastest possible off-the-line start.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance (try saying that after a few strong ales) is based on an extensively modified AMG bodyshell, which is slightly longer and wider for a more muscular, sports-informed look. It also gets an AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical struts and a 'jet-wing' AMG front apron incorporating flics, large inlets and air curtains with the airflow regulated by a pair of hidden electronic air panels.

There are AMG side skirts to match, while around the back you'll discover a large rear diffuser and special airflow breakaway edge on the boot lid/upper tailgate.

And, just make sure there's absolutely no chance of this hybrid flying machine being mistaken for a standard C-Class, a round badge with a black AMG emblem replaces the familiar Mercedes logo badge on the bonnet.

Nineteen-inch AMG alloy wheels are fitted as standard, with optional wheel/tyre combinations available in 20-inch size, including a new forged wheel.

It's a great looking car, with the flowing lines of the estate version being particularly pleasing to the eye – even if it is a tad slower than the saloon in top spec.

Both saloon and estate versions accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155mph which can be bumped up to 174mph for the saloon and 168mph for the estate on cars equipped with the optional AMG Driver's Package.

Electric-only driving is possible up to 78mph. An electric actuator engages second gear at 87mph, which corresponds to the electric motor's maximum speed of around 13,500rpm, and the peak output of the electric motor - a 'boost' of 150kW - can be instantly accessed via the kick-down function of the accelerator.

Power is transmitted via the AMG Speedshift Multi-Clutch Transmission 9G, in which a wet start-off clutch replaces the torque converter to reduce weight. Thanks to its lower inertia, it also optimises accelerator pedal response, especially during spurts and load changes. Carefully calibrated software ensures extremely short shift times and fast multiple downshifts if required, and there is also a Race Start function which ensures optimal acceleration from standstill.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance is equipped with active rear axle steering and a fully variable all-wheel drive system, AMG Performance 4MATIC+, ensuring that the car's formidable power is transferred to the road in the most efficient, traction-based manner possible – though apparently there's also a driver selectable Drift Mode for track day outings or when you just feel like spicing up your morning commute around the Sandyknowes Roundabout.

Eight AMG Dynamic Select driving modes are tailored to this new drive technology: Electric, Comfort, Battery Hold, Sport, Sport+, Race, Slippery and Individual.

As you may already have guessed, despite it being a plug-in hybrid, you're not exactly going to save the planet by purchasing a C 63 SE Performance: the super saloon only delivers an estimated 40.9mpg with 156g/km of Co2 emissions. Zero-emission electric-only range is just eight miles and the battery will take around 100 minutes to fully re-charge using via the standard 3.7kW on-board charger.

Prices have yet to be announced, but it would be wise not to expect too much change from £100k.