Because of the purely electric range of 13 kilometers, AMG did not convert the four-door GT into a plug-in hybrid. And not just for a total of 843 hp or 1,470 Nm. But for the continued existence of the V8. And because they have the right formula for it: Formula 1.
Prologue: On the last Monday in May, the energetic activity of the new week seems to be hesitant to get going when a call from Affalterbach gives it unexpected momentum. Would you be interested in picking up a test car of the latest model from the Mercedes sports department, the GT 63 S E Performance plug-in hybridized using Formula 1 technology, on Friday at seven in the morning in 71563 Affalterbach Daimlerstraße/corner Bittenfelder Weg?
And how interested there is! says the boss, but asks if that works. After all, only five days remain until the end of the issue, three of which extend over the Pentecost weekend. Can we do everything - measurement, test, consumption, photo ride, evaluation, layout, writing? Of course, let's go! And there can be a bit of drama.
Act 1: Imminent loss of eight
After all, it's about nothing less than the continued existence of the V8. The four-liter twin-scroll biturbo never lacked assertiveness or power to get by on its own. But the times when his frivolous handling of fuel still seemed, well, contemporary, are long gone. According to the standard, it emits 295 grams of CO2 every kilometer. The exorbitance of such values can be improved to 180 g/km with complex hybrid technology, the nicely calculating WLTP cycle and exactly 20,277 euros and 60 cents. That's the surcharge from the unhybridized GT 63 S to the GT 63 S E Performance (let's call it E Perf, otherwise half the space goes to the name alone), AMG's first plug-in.
AMG should also open up new customer groups - those who want to immerse the amusement of their performance- and financially-conspicuous activities in the contemporary semblance of electromobile sustainability. For image they have also secured the services of will.i.am - according to our knowledge, admittedly rather meager in this area, one of the leading personalities in the US rap business and now also AMG brand ambassador.
Act 2: That's what's behind it
The first AMG with the hybrid drive borrowed from Formula 1 was supposed to be the One. However, its development was delayed so much that even AMG boss Philipp Schiemer said there were doubts as to whether the project could really be implemented. This was smoother with the GT E Perf – although it uses the same battery technology as the One. But the four-door is based on Mercedes' Aunt E, which has been operating plug hybridization since 2016 and can travel 51 km electrically with the 13.5 kWh battery.
The lithium-ion battery of the E Perf - developed in close cooperation with the engineers of the Formula 1 engine department in Brixworth - stores only 4.8 kWh (gross 6.1 kWh). This means that the electric range cannot have had priority in the design. AMG itself promises twelve kilometers with a maximum of 130 km/h - in the test he should do that with - rain of confetti! – Exceed 13 km.
The 63 S, which is purely combustion-powered and does not have a meager 639 hp and 900 Nm, achieves a power potential of 843 hp and 1,470 Nm thanks to the additional hybrid system, which is organized like this: at the front as before, the V8 (at this point our highest regards to Paul Beutel, who hand-assembled the test car's engine). The electric drive unit is located on the rear axle, which includes the 150 kW permanent magnet synchronous machine, the electrically controlled two-speed gearbox and the limited-slip differential.
The battery rises above it. Its continuous output is 70 kW, for ten seconds it creates 150 kW. As in Formula 1, it should emit energy very quickly, very frequently in succession and – using the three-stage recuperation (maximum 100 kW) that can be adjusted with a rotary button on the steering wheel – store it again. Due to the position so close to the rear axle, the power of the engine can be converted into propulsion quickly and directly, with the electronically controlled limited-slip differential in addition to the electric motor control ensuring firm traction and more agile acceleration, says AMG. The GT also implements a drive layout that has been largely neglected in automotive history: rear engine and front-wheel drive. The electric motor can theoretically direct its power almost completely to the front via the cardan shaft of the mechanical all-wheel drive (the power and torque orgies of the V8 biturbo have to go somewhere).
Of course, the battery can also be charged like a plug-in. With a maximum of 3.7 kW on a wall box or 230 volt socket. But - so much buyer information must be - because of the low e-range, the high price and the high CO2 value, the car does not benefit from the plug-in purchase bonus or those of an e-license plate or the one limited to five years Tax reduction of 30 euros per year. Even environmentally conscious investment bankers who get stuck in the City of London in the morning cannot avoid the toll there with the E Perf (because CO2 emissions are over 75 g/km, e-range under 20 miles). It may be possible to cushion the resulting financial setbacks by renting the car to friends/colleagues/relatives in car sharing – using an app, for which an amount of 59.50 euros is charged for the preparation.
Act 3: The supporting actors
The engineers stow all the hybrid technology in the GT four-door, which has been upgraded technically since a facelift in March.Of course there were also minor things like new paintwork, a smarter front apron for the V8 versions and nicer interior decorations. But more important: the new, standard chassis with multi-chamber air suspension, automatic level control and wider spread, electronically controlled adjustable damping. The has two pressure relief valves (one for the rebound, one for the compression stage), which can be used to control the damping force more precisely. Its basic characteristics depend on the selected one of the seven driving modes, but can always be varied in three stages.
Also included: carbon-ceramic composite brake discs, rear-axle steering, switchable engine mounts, cylinder clipping and – for real – a belt starter mild hybrid system. So far we haven't talked about the extras that can be used to glamorize the sparse standard equipment given the price, which is just south of 200,000 euros.
A possibility that was used extensively in the test car and which contributes to the fact that the weight of the plug-in reaches the impressive 2,361 kg. This limits the payload to 399 kg. Tiny don't you think? Well, you can also see it this way: The fact that the towering e-technology reduces the luggage volume in the test car, which cannot be varied due to the single seat system in the rear, by 126 to 335 l, trains passengers to pack only what is really necessary anyway. However, the four-door GT offers four adults plenty of space. The GT is furnished with seats that are as comfortable as they are long-distance. So, and now let's see if the E Perf tears us from them.
Act 4: Oh, my fury!
With which we would have arrived on Friday morning and in the wild middle of it all - outside on the test track in Lahr, over which the warmth of the early sun shimmers. The E Perf – picked up at seven sharp – is now there, fueled, loaded, weighed in front of the hall. start button. The E-Werk buzzes off, selector lever on "D", foot off the brake, then the drive bumps the car into motion - no, it doesn't start that sensitively. Now that the battery is full, measure the electrical acceleration, which amounts to eleven seconds for the zero hundred - 20 years ago this Mercedes could have used it to cause difficulties for a C 180 K.
Now fill the battery again through recuperation and back to the start of the runway. There, the V8 snorts up a few thousand revs two or three times, then holds them up in a launch-controlled manner. foot off the brake. And now: A brief scrape of grip on the wheels, then the car pushes forward with such vehemence that it almost looms into the monstrous. The digital digits of the timekeeping have not yet made it to the three before the decimal point when the speed is already in the three-digit range.And on to 200 in a frenzy that may only subside with the forces of rolling and drag brewing just this side of 300.
That's only 0.1 seconds faster with the zero hundred than with the normal 63 S. Well, that's right, and even in this tenth-relevant times league that only means: The hybrid is 3.2 percent faster. Now you can convince yourself that he is accelerating a little bit less, brute force and yet more controlled. And since the battery recuperates so quickly and a lot of energy when braking, the acceleration on the fourth, fifth, sixth attempt loses none of its two-come-an-second power. But then again, we all know that this is a very small difference for the enormous effort that a few degrees of track/air/tire temperature can make.
The brakes - they don't always manage the transition from recuperation to mechanical deceleration seamlessly - resolutely stop the rush. The fact that the deceleration values do not quite reach the heights of super sports cars or the normal 63 S can also be explained by the massive weight of the E Perf.
As then: the handling. With great technical effort, the chassis technicians have trained the GT to be agile. So there is rear-axle steering for manoeuvrability, limited-slip differential for rear dynamics and adaptive chassis for body control. But the E Perf now brings in exactly 230 kilos more weight and a heavier rear weight distribution (49 to 51 instead of 53 to 47 without hybrid). For that he drives, well, actually colossal. So not light-footed or ready, because you always feel them, the whole big crowd. And yet the E Perf hums neutrally (of course, because of the rearward torque shift with oversteer crescendo in "Sport", "Sport+" and especially in Race mode), precisely and with remarkable agility around the pylons. But just 1.5 km /h slower than without hybrid. In wagging - the drive/all-wheel drive/ESP command prevents him from all oversteer antics - he remains stable and 3.6 km/h behind. The steering is top-notch: direct, with brilliant precision, yet smooth and even at ambitious speeds with almost unshakable sovereignty when driving straight ahead or in fast corners - this is of course also due to the fact that the rear wheels increase stability even further through parallel steering.
On the autobahn tour from Lahr to our favorite country road tour around the monastery and between the rivers, one thing is already clear: The GT remains a terrific long-distance sedan - it is, so to speak, enormously fast, enormously fast and then, well, simply remains enormously fast. It's quiet and comfortable. With the 21-inch wheels, it bumps into rough bumps at low speeds.But how easily does he manage to escape such inconvenience and at higher speeds to offer the whole diligent creative power of the suspension quality.
But now, three motorway junctions later, which seldom rushed towards just one test car in such quick succession, exit the exit, once right, once left, and we are right in the middle of this winding somewhere, in which hardly anyone else gets tangled up . Tangled? Well, that also applies to the E Perf. Because despite all the engineering, although it can be easily, precisely, extremely dynamically and with great haste scramble over the hills, through the forests and around the darting curves: It's just an almost -ten-square-meter-area 47.2-hundredweight car. That hardly mattered if the whole world were a one-way street. But if the GT has to be content with one track, it lacks the space it needs to give its brilliance the space it needs. So it drives itself around in the way, and despite excellent traction and enormous driving safety you have the feeling that you are constantly braking away from the speed that the GT has just put on the road without having to use even half of its capabilities. The E Perf is a straight devourer, but certainly not a country road bewitcher.
5th act: The realization
Well, for that we finally have to name the consumption. In the test it is 13.5 l Super Plus /100 km, on the Eco lap it is 9.8 l. Which ultimately shifts the whole hybrid theater into the absurd. Because the only V8 was exactly 13.5 l /100 km in the test and 10.0 l on the eco lap. The e-range, these 13 km in the test, are so little that the e-perf according to the ams profile is 10.3 l plus 9.4 kWh per 100 km. Equals over half a pound of CO2 per km, 279g to be exact.
So you might find it nice that the V8 in combination with the plug-in will stay with us for a little while longer. But it's definitely not a golden bridge from the future. Rather a barren footbridge from the shore of the past, which now juts out a bit beyond the present.
Grand Brix: Hyper-Hybrid with Formula 1 technology
Two engines with a total of 843 hp and 1470 Nm, two transmissions with a total of eleven gears, two turbos, the 89 kg light high-performance battery, all-wheel drive, locking diff. All this for: 13 km electric range.
In addition to the 7th-century All Saint's Church, the town of Brixworth in Northamptonshire, UK, has the Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Limited as its second significant. Around 700 employees develop the Formula 1 drives in a remote location where there is no fear of distractions from work. Mercedes is now transferring technology from them to series production. There was a close exchange between the engineers in Brixworth and Affalterbach, especially when it came to designing the 89 kg high-performance lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 6.1 kWh (used: 4.8).
As in the racing car, the battery in the GT should release its energy particularly quickly and frequently and be able to store it again through high recuperation power (100 kW). For this purpose, the 560 cells are directly cooled with 14 liters of liquid. The 400 volt battery with 70 kW continuous power and 150 kW peak power (for 10 seconds) sits above the electric drive unit and supplies power to the 150 kW permanent magnet synchronous motor on the rear axle. The electric motor is combined with the automated two-speed gearbox and the electronically controlled limited-slip differential. With the mechanical all-wheel drive, the electric motor can drive not only the rear wheels, but also the front wheels via a cardan shaft. Up front there is, of course, the four-liter V8 with two twin-scroll turbos, which, with 639 hp/900 Nm, first puts the nine-speed automatic transmission into turmoil and then the road.
The plug-in hybrid fulfills regulations better than expectations. It adds weight, not efficiency or capability. Unchanged great: steering, comfort, controllability of the enormous power.