The rivalry between Mercedes-AMG and BMW M is alive and well, but now with an electrifying twist and downsizing of major proportions in the case of the model from Affalterbach. Known by its official and rather complicated name as the 2023 AMG C63 S E Performance, the new super sedan drops its throaty V8 and rear-wheel-drive layout in favor of a plug-in hybrid four-cylinder engine with 4Matic.
Comparing their combustion engines, the M3 Competition xDrive has a clear advantage as its inline-six, twin-turbo 3.0-liter unit belts out 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet (650 Newton-meters) of torque. The AMG C63 is equipped with the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine ever put into a series production car, making an astounding 469 hp and 402 lb-ft (545 Nm).
While that’s still down by 34 hp and 77 lb-ft (105 Nm) compared to BMW’s S58 engine, AMG’s M139 engine has an ace up its sleeve – an electrically assisted exhaust turbocharger derived from Formula 1. The engineers are quite confident with what they’ve achieved, so much so the press release says in black and white that the dreaded turbo lag has been eliminated completely. How does it work? There’s a small electric motor mounted between the exhaust turbine and the compressor wheel. It’s role is to spin the turbo to provide a virtually instant boost.
The C63 uses a rear-mounted electric motor to increase output to a staggering level for a performance car that has a four-pot engine at its core. With the power of the two combined, the most potent C-Class ever unleashes 671 hp and a whopping 752 lb-ft (1,020 Nm). It gives the new C63 an enormous 168 hp and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) advantage over the M3 Competition xDrive.
Addressing the elephant in the room, yes, the C63 is extremely heavy for a C-Class. It tips the scales at 4,654 pounds (2,111 kilograms). All of a sudden, the AWD-equipped M3 doesn’t seem so heavy anymore, does it? After all, it weighs “only” 3,924 lbs (1,780 kg). Doing the math, the AMG carries around an extra 730 lbs (331 kg) of fat.
The extra oomph does manage to compensate for the additional heft, at least when it comes to straight-line acceleration. Mercedes claims the new AMG C63 S E Performance does 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.4 seconds, which is a tenth of a second quicker than the M3 Competition xDrive. Flat out, it can reach 174 mph (280 km/h), which is actually slightly lower than the 180 mph (290 km/h) velocity the BMW is able to hit.
Numbers aside, the C63 has a more subtle look compared to its competitor from Munich. However, the proportions have changed compared to a regular C-Class since it has wider front fenders to accommodate a beefier track. It’s three inches wider and two inches longer at the front than the Benz model while the wheelbase has been stretched by 0.4 inches. Overall, length has increased by 3.3 inches.
AMG has fitted bigger air intakes and a larger trunk lid spoiler compared to the M340i-rivaling C43 model. It also gets a more menacing quad exhaust system along with a choice for 19- or 20-inch alloys, including new forged wheels. Stopping power is provided by composite brakes with six-piston fixed calipers at the front and a single-piston floating caliper at the back. Power is routed to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission featuring a wet clutch to replace the torque converter.
Let’s keep in mind the AMG C63 is a plug-in hybrid, which in this case means a battery pack with a capacity of 6.1 kWh. That gives it enough juice for a maximum electric range in the WLTP cycle of 8 miles (13 kilometers). Let’s just say the hybrid component was developed for performance rather than efficiency.
Mercedes-AMG is only revealing the sedan today, but it’s only a matter of time before the C63 Estate will break cover to rival the M3 Touring and the RS4 Avant.