2023 Mercedes-AMG C63 revealed: 500kW/1020Nm plug-in hybrid monster

snapshot

  • V8 replaced by a 2.0-liter plug-in hybrid with 500kW and 1020Nm
  • Aussie arrival due in mid-2023
  • Sedan and wagon body styles revealed; wagon not coming to Australia
  • Chassis tech includes drift mode, fully variable four-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering
  • 0-100kmh in 3.4 sec, helped a second quicker than Audi RS4

Here it is: the biggest personality shift the Mercedes-AMG C63 has undergone in, well, ever.

Finally revealed after years of rumours, teasers and spy shots, our first official look at the all-new C63 confirms what we all knew was coming: the V8 is no more.

Cue outrage, waggling fingers and fighting in the streets.

A C63 without a V8!? It’s like the Beatles without McCartney. The Stones with no Jagger. But let’s not focus on what we’re losing; let’s drink in what we’re gaining. And that’s a colossal step forward in performance.

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We’ll start with the outputs

Powering the new C63 is the combination of AMG’s frenzied M139 2.0-liter four-cylinder turboo and a single electric motor mounted on the rear axle.

Together they produce 500kW and 1020Nm.

Need some context? That’s it 125kW and 320Nm more than the current V8 C63 Swhich is a car in which we’ve never thought “Oh this could use more grunt”, and a healthy jump over the C63’s longstanding rivals in the Audi RS4 and BMW M3.

It also helps to make this the quickest C63 yet. Combine the newfound grunt with fully variable all-wheel drive and AMG says the new 2023 C63 will rocket from 0-100km/h in 3.4 secondswhich is a 0.6sec improvement over the outgoing rear-drive model.

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The way the petrol engine and hybrid system interact is intriguing. The petrol unit is the same engine found in the AMG C43, only in this application it produces 350kW @ 6750rpm and 545Nm @ 5250-5500rpm. AMG says that makes it the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine, and it has a specific output per liter of 176kW.

Like the C43, the petrol engine is mounted longitudinally and the turbo is electrified which helps to improve response and reduce lag. Unlike the unit in the C43, however, the C63’s turbo is “significantly larger”.

The petrol engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic and, thanks to a wet clutch in place of a torque converter, launch control is standard.

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It’s the electrified side of the powertrain that promises to deliver the biggest character change, however. Mounted on the rear axle is what AMG calls a “compact electric drive unit”. It’s effectively the same plug-in hybrid system as in the more expensive GT63 SE Performance and it combines an electric motor with a two-speed gearbox and a 6.1kWh battery pack.

In regular running, the electric motor produces 70kW – but AMG says it’s capable of a peak output of 150kW for 10 seconds. To deploy the battery’s full potency, the driver simply pushes the accelerator through a detente or “tangible pressure point” towards the end of its travel.

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The motor also gives the C63 the ability to run purely on electric power at speeds up to 125km/h, although the EV range is fairly short, at 13km.

Managing weight and effective cooling were high priorities for AMG’s engineers, and they claim the unique design of the 89kg battery pack – which was created purely in-house and uses a new non-conductive cooling liquid that flows around each of the 560 cells individually – is twice as power-dense as a conventional battery set-up.

Charging is handled via the onboard 3.7kW AC charger, or through a home wall box or public charger, but AMG is yet to provide an indication of charge times.

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You can also top up the battery through regenerative braking. Four levels of regeneration are offered via a toggle on the right steering wheel spoke and range from Level 0, or virtually no regen, through to Level 3 which offers ‘one-pedal’ driving and can feed up to 100kW back into the battery.

As for drive modes, there are now eight to contend with: Electric, Comfort, Battery Hold, Sport, Sport+, Race, Slippery and Individual. As usual your chosen drive mode adjusts the ferocity of the adaptive dampers, steering and transmission – but in the C63’s case, it also determines how much power the electric motor produces.

In Comfort mode, for example, the boost power of the motor is limited to 25 percent, while in Sport+ and Race, that lifts to 80 percent. The motor only gives its full peak of 150kW if the driver activates the ‘kick down’ function by going to full throttle, which can be done in any drive mode.

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Right, time to talk about the sound

Or to be more accurate, the lack thereof, if you’re driving in Electric mode.

Perhaps acutely aware that the current C63’s sinister V8 rumble is intrinsic to the car’s appeal, AMG has worked hard to engineer this new car with its own sound signature. Start the car in EV mode, for example, and AMG says it will deliver a “powerful, sonorous start-up sound” through the vehicle’s speakers.

At low speed, the C63 will also warn pedestrians by emitting a “specially composed, low-frequency” sound through loudspeakers mounted in the front and rear of the body, while in regular driving the soundtrack of the 2.0-liter engine is amplified through the internal speakers.

Color us a touch apprehensive about all this, but we’ll retain an open mind. At least they haven’t tried to make it sound like a V8…

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Naturally, moving to a hybrid powertrain means the new C63 is all wheel drive, and AMG says the system is fully variable. There’s also a fresh Drift Mode function and four-wheel steering, which can move the rear wheels by up to 2.5 degrees, is another notable chassis inclusion.

Design-wise, the C63 doesn’t offer too many surprises, given we’d already seen it in camouflage – although we are fans of the thin air vent between the two power domes on the bonnet.

Don’t just write it off as a regular C-Class with some pumped up guards and a subtle rear wing, though. There are serious bodywork alterations at play here.

Overall length is up 83mm compared with a C300, the front track is 76mm broader, and even the wheelbase has changed and is now 10mm longer.

Wheels are staggered 19s, although 20s are optional and will likely be standard fare in Australia, and lurking behind them is a high-performance composite braking system with six-piston front callipers. Even more powerful carbon-ceramic stoppers will be an option.

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Any other little detail worth mentioning? Look closely at the nose and you’ll notice the traditional Mercedes star and wreath have been replaced by a black AMG emblem.

Inside it’s the usual fare of an AMG-specific steering wheel and grippier bucket seats, although AMG has redesigned its optional performance seats with “weight saving openings” in the side bolsters, which sounds a lot like the gaps you get in the BMW M3’s carbon seats.

There are also specific hybrid displays on the digital screens and head-up display which display how the powertrain is deploying its performance and the temperature of the motor and battery.

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So there you have it. Our first chance to properly digest the most radically different C63 in decades. Is it a shock?

Given the shift towards electrification and AMG’s lengthy drip feed of information, no not really. Is it going to deliver a driving experience that’s completely alien to existing C63 owners? Almost definitely. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing will have to wait until we drive it later this year. Stay tuned for that.

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