Changes are afoot for future Mercedes C-Class AMG models

Big changes are expected to come for the Mercedes’ C-Class family now that the updated model is nearing its expected launch timetable of 2021. But just as the facelifted C-Class will arrive with plenty of changes and modifications, so too will the model’s lineup of sinister AMG alter egos. Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers recently sat down with Motor Trend to discuss a ride range of topics, specifically the company’s plans for the new wave of Mercedes C-Class AMG models that will arrive with the facelifted C-Class and the broad strokes future of Mercedes-AMG as a company. With Mercedes already having its hands full with the development of its new all-electric EQS sub-brand, questions surrounding Mercedes-AMG’s future plans are being asked, which, in this case, focuses on the Mercedes C-Class AMG models.

Plug-In Hybrids are Part of AMG’s Future

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 High Resolution Exterior
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We’ve known about this for some time now, but there’s still a sense of finality hearing it from AMG boss Tobias Moers. Even though the full spec of details have yet to be revealed, Mercedes-AMG is going the hybrid route, and the C-Class AMGs will be among the models that will be part of that future. Now, before some of you start complaining about hybrids finding their way into Mercedes’ performance brand, there are important points to discuss, chief of which are the hybrid powertrains that Mercedes-AMG will use in its models.

According to Moers, it appears that Mercedes-AMG will use different powertrains, or at least differently engineered powertrains from the ones Mercedes is using in its non-AMG plug-in models.

The exact details are still unclear, but this approach does lead to some benefits for AMG, including the perception of its use of plug-in hybrid powertrains. Before we get to that, let’s look at the powertrain of the recently unveiled Mercedes-Class C300e. The model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. There’s also an electric motor thrown into the mix, one that produces 121 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. In total, the whole setup produces 315 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, all of which are sent to the rear axle courtesy of a nine-speed automatic transmission. A 13.5 kWh battery is also part of the setup, providing an electric driving range of up to 32 miles.

2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe Exterior
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The numbers are impressive for a non-AMG Mercedes C-Class, but less so if the model falls under the performance brand.

Based on Moers’ comments, Mercedes C-Class AMG models will have different plug-in hybrid setups from their non-AMG counterparts, including engines that will either be engineered differently or completely different, to begin with.

Since AMG’s focus revolves entirely around performance, future hybrid AMG C-Class models could use the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine found under the hood of the AMG C 43 or the 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 engine that comes with the AMG C 63 variant. An electric motor — maybe even two — and a small battery pack could be added to complete the setup.

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 Emblems and Logo Exterior
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Even if performance plays a huge role in the packaging of these models, it’s also important to take note of the improved fuel economy as an important reason behind the hybridization of Mercedes-AMG.

In the case of the AMG C-Class models, improving the fuel returns of a model like the outgoing AMG C 63 S — 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway as a sedan, 17 mpg city / 26 mpg as a coupe, and 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway as a convertible — could translate to more AMG models in the future.

I understand the importance of protecting Mercedes-AMG’s name and performance pedigree, but if turning to plug-in hybrids becomes a way for future Mercedes-AMG owners to have their cake and eat it too, then going the plug-in hybrid route is necessary to get to that point.

Mercedes’ New Turbo Four Could Find its Way into a Hybrid AMG C-Class

2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 Drivetrain
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0-liter V-6 with 390 HP
It’s fairly reasonable to assume that Mercedes’ 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine could find its way into a hybridized version of a future AMG C-Class model.

The engine makes sense from the perspective of an AMG-lite model like the C 43. Throw in an electric motor or two and a small battery pack and the model’s output could go from 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque — the output of the V-6 on its own — to somewhere around 480 horsepower and 520 pound-feet of torque. That’s a powerful setup for an entry-level AMG C-Class model.

Mercedes-AMG C43 specifications
Engine 3.0-Liter, Biturbo, V-6
Transmission Nine-Speed Automatic
Horsepower 385 @ 6,100 RPM
Torque 384 LB-FT @ 2,500 RPM
Driveline 4Matic AWD
Fuel Premium Gasoline
Fuel Capacity 17.4 Gallons
0-60 mph 4.6 Seconds
Top Speed 155 MPH

The question, though, is if Mercedes-AMG wants to “settle” at that kind of number for future plug-in hybrid AMG C-Class models. On the other hand, using the same 4.0-liter turbo V-8 engine — the same one that’s sitting under the hood of the two Mercedes-AMG C 63 versions — on a hybrid version of the AMG C 43 might just be too rich, even for Mercedes-AMG’s standards. Besides, if AMG does that, what kind of differentiation would it get if the same engine is used on a hybrid version of the C 63?

AMG Is Rewriting Rules Of Compact Cars With the Unbelievably Powerful 2020 AMG CLA 45 & A45
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Fortunately, there is a possible solution to this perceived quagmire.

Mercedes-AMG’s newly developed 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder M139 engine is not only smaller — and less of an environmental hazard — than the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, but it also packs more power than the erstwhile V-6 unit.

Based on the setup of the Mercedes-AMG A 45 and the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, we already know that the turbo-four engine can be offered in two states of tune, including a setup that produces 416 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The other output — 382 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque — is also an intriguing option.

It’s certainly possible that Mercedes-AMG uses this new engine on future AMG C-Class models, especially if it’s as serious about meeting the increasingly stringent global fuel economy regulations as it says it is. I’m not going to make any assumptions on fuel economy figures, but by virtue of the smaller unit and conscious efforts on Mercedes-AMG’s part, the performance division can effectively kill two birds with one stone with this kind of plug-in hybrid setup. Power figures and subsequent performance capabilities won’t be compromised while fuel economy could be improved. Mercedes-AMG will still have a lot of work to do before it makes its decision. Understandably so. But the option is on the table, or at least it should be if the automaker wants to play nice with fuel economy regulators all over the world.

All-Wheel-Drive is In; Rear-Wheel-Drive is Out

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 High Resolution Exterior
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The 2015 Mercedes C63 AMG has finally landed

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this point.

Tobias Moers made the proclamation that AMG would discontinue the rear-wheel-drive configuration in favor of all-wheel drive for all of its models moving forward.

That includes all versions of the AMG C-Class family, specifically the AMG C 63 and the AMG C 63 S, two of the last batch of AMG models to come with rear-wheel drive. The AMG SL 63, AMG SL 65, AMG S 65, and AMG GT are also included in that list.

But the days of rear-wheel-drive AMG models are numbered now that the automaker is moving to all-wheel drive for each of its models in the wake of slowing demand for rear-drive vehicles. Customer demand played a big role in this decision, in part because, according to Moers, most AMG customers want all-wheel-drive models. That’s especially true for the range-topping AMG GT sports car. "When I ask customers about the GT, they ask me about all-wheel drive,” Moers told Motor Trend earlier this year. “Regarding our competition, this is the downside of the AMG in terms of usability. People in Munich, for example, always, always ask for four-wheel-drive - I think it’s for safety and stability.”

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 High Resolution Exterior
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It’s worth noting that with almost every other AMG model already fitted with all-wheel drive, the current AMG C 63 and AMG C 63 S will be the last AMG models to feature rear-wheel drive.

Once the facelifted 2021 model arrives, both AMG C-Class models will feature all-wheel drive, officially spelling the end of an era for Mercedes-AMG.

The change in the drivetrain, combined with the infusion of hybrid technology, is a huge change for Mercedes-AMG. It might even take a lot of people some time to get used to the change, or, in some cases, accept it completely. But most AMG customers appear to be on board with this move. "Customers have given us the answer, and most want four-wheel drive," Moers said. "Back in the days when we had an AMG E-Class as rear-wheel drive and with four-wheel drive as an option, over 90 percent chose 4WD.”

That pretty much tells you all you need to know about AMG’s decision to switch to all-wheel drive.

Further reading

A New Batch of C-Class AMGs Are Coming in 2021 - Here's What We Know Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43.

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Interior Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-AMG C63.

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