Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E-Performance: King of the four-cylinder

Departing from the iconic V8: The C 63, which is now called the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E-Performance in full, comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo. E-Performance, that means: As a hybrid, it is also driven by an electric motor on the rear axle – and that is why it is only available with all-wheel drive. The specified system output is 500 kW/680 hp. AMG is proud that the combustion engine is currently the most powerful 4-cylinder engine in the world with an output per liter of 176 kW/238 hp.

The considerable weight of over 2 tons is now almost perfectly distributed 50:50 on the front and rear axles. Because the four-cylinder is 56 kilograms lighter than the previous V8, and the battery, weighing 89 kilograms, is positioned on the rear axle. The hybrid system weighs a total of around 250 kilograms; the batteries were developed by AMG itself and are also built there.

What distinguishes the AMG approach from other plug-in hybrids: long range is not the goal here, and only around 13 kilometers of purely electric driving are possible. Rather, the full battery performance should be available as consistently as possible, even with repeated use. With an electric turbo, the “turbo lag” should be avoided, the electric drive should ensure maximum acceleration from a standstill. To ensure that the sound remains authentic, a microphone is installed on the exhaust system that plays the actual exhaust noise into the interior loudspeakers.

So much for technology. But how does that feel? AMG has invited test drives to Malaga, Spain; after you need winter tires in Germany, you can still drive with sports tires here.

Even the first impression is right: I take a seat in the new performance seat and the sports car feeling immediately sets in. Comfortable, but above all handy, perfect fit. The interior is not stingy with noble materials: leather, aluminum, carbon fiber. The large center screen offers plenty of space for information and operation, the head-up display completes the permanent data presentation.

We drive off in comfort mode, fully electric. The acceleration is surprisingly powerful, but not as spontaneous as I would have expected – that’s probably due to the mode settings. Then the combustion engine kicks in: the sound is warm and sporty, but unmistakably four-cylinder, emphasized again by the loudspeakers in the parcel shelf. The formerly deep and sonorous eight-cylinder background noise, actually the trademark of AMG, is missing.

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The motorsport genes are still clearly noticeable, also and especially on the race track. The new C 63 also feels very agile thanks to the standard steering rear axle. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 3.4 seconds: impressive. And thanks to all-wheel drive and optimal weight distribution, driving has become much easier and more relaxed. The boost indicator flashes to indicate that you can give full load for 10 seconds. Then it flashes again. The transition to the limit is predictable, electronically soft controlled, slight oversteer is tolerated. The car is significantly less brutal and easier to drive.

And there is also a bit of video game appeal: 20 racetracks are currently programmed, on which lap times are recorded using GPS data and full load recommendations are given. In the near future there will be 70 racetracks. Customers will appreciate that. But whether they will be as enthusiastic about the four-cylinder as they have been about the V8 remains to be seen. (aum/mkn)

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