The march of progress can be a mixed bag for motoring enthusiasts. While new cars invariably improve on paper (more power! greater efficiency!), intangibles like stirring exhaust notes and steering feel are often lost on the road to progress. The 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance is sure to become a hot button for diehards when it hits the market next year, mostly because its specifications seem impossibly lofty. For starters, this hot rod sedan delivers a stunning 671 hp and 752 ft lbs of torque to all four wheels in a novel way: via the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine up front, and a two-speed electric motor at the rear axle. The go-fast proceedings are aided by quite a bit of exotic tech, including a 156,000 rpm electric exhaust-gas turbocharger that reduces lag.
Though it’s technically classified as a plug-in hybrid, this fleet four-door derives its tech from the pinnacle of motorsports, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racecar. One of the most direct trickle-downs from F1 can be found in the 6.1 kWh lithium ion round cell battery pack, which is essentially a scaled-down version of the unit found in Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s daily office. The 400-volt hardware was developed in-house by AMG and incorporates all the goodies you’d expect in a state-of-the-art power unit, including a robust direct cooling system, lightweight construction from an aluminum crash structure, and a slew of secret ingredients the F1 competition would kill to know. In order to maintain handling balance, the 196-pound piece is positioned over the rear axle.
There’s a lot going on beneath the skin of the latest C63 AMG. Much of which flies in the face of the simpler days when Mercedes-AMG’s hopped-up sedan boasted a burbly V-8 that spun the rear wheels at the slightest provocation. Nowadays, handling is aided by torque vectoring and a standard rear-wheel-steer system, which seem like necessary workarounds since the new car is around 3 inches wider and longer than its predecessor. Crucially, packing all that hardware means it tips the scales at a considerable 4,654 pounds. The latest tech means that some of the old visceral touchpoints (like the sonorous exhaust note) are lost due to the inherent utility of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. On a recent conference call, AMG Chief Technical Officer Jochen Hermann told Robb Report that the engine sounds will be enhanced through the speakers via a pressure sensor in the exhaust system.
While the absolute capabilities of the latest C63 S E Performance appear indomitable in the face of current competitors like the Audi RS5 and BMW M4 Competition, the burning questions for enthusiasts will centre on subjective topics like how it feels from the driver seat, and whether the sensations of speed produce those inimitable tingles of the spine. Watch this space for driving impressions of this very fast, and inevitably debate-stirring sport sedan.
Previously published on Robb Report.