Superpower emerges after Europe debut
GENEVA MOTOR SHOW/ Mercedes-Benz’s go-fast division looks to make a full stand-alone line-up, writes Michael Taylor
The much-improved Mercedes Benz-AMG E63 sedan has come under fire from an unexpected source — AMG itself. Mercedes’ official factory luxury performance partner burned its way onto the Geneva stage with its first standalone four-door concept car, the brutally fast AMG GT Concept.
Designed to stretch the GT and GT S coupes and the GT C convertible into a three-model family, the 600kW V8-powered super sedan is headed into production before the end of 2018, according to AMG insiders.
Besides outrageous biturbo V8 engine performance, the GT sedan will use hybrid power and all-wheel drive traction to whip it through to 100km/h in less than three seconds, while it will tap out at an electronically governed 250km/h limit.
Dubbed a “dynamic fastback” by AMG, the new four-door shape has been rumoured to be on its way for two years and it even uses an EQ Power+ badge to link it to Mercedes-Benz’s new battery-electric car brand.
It’s getting busy for Mercedes in this market now, with the E63 and the CLS already overlapping at least part of the GT’s target market, but it will also have Porsche’s Panamera GT 4 and Turbo S E-Hybrid super sports sedans in its sights.
The Turbo S E-Hybrid will deliver the joint efforts of a 404kW biturbo 4.0l V8 with a 100kW electric motor to hurl itself to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds, so it’s precisely in AMG’s sights.
The AMG will use the modular 4.0l, wet-sump engine from the E63, rather than the drysumped unit in the GT coupe, in tandem with an electric motor (AMG isn’t revealing its power output) that gives it an instant torque hit in those fleeting moments when it isn’t developing force-fed turbo power from the V8.
After years of shying away from hybrid development or admitting it was interested in hybrid cars, AMG is now committing to them, insisting it is a way of the future for the brand.
But while it’s zero-emission capable for short distances in urban conditions, AMG is using its electric motor primarily to add performance to its V8powered models. Indeed, the battery pack, which AMG insists will be lightweight, will recharge exclusively from V8 power and brake-energy recuperation.
“This performance hybrid powertrain offers an impressive electric range and the opportunity to generate a system output of up to 600kW in its last level of development,” says AMG boss Tobias Moers.
“It does 0-100km/h in less than three seconds, which corresponds to a super sports car level, he says.
It could be argued that the GT Concept is the most significant AMG in the past 20 years, pointing a way to sustainable high performance from a brand whose two-pillared foundations have been straight-line speed and interior luxury.
Indeed, the only other Mercedes-Benz-badged car wearing the new EQ Power+ badge is the all-new 2017 Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 race car.
“With the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept we are giving a preview of our third completely autonomously developed sports car and extending the attractive AMG GT family to include a four-door variant,” says Moers.
“The GT Concept, like the AMG Hypercar [which we are presenting at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt], illustrates how we are defining performance of the future at AMG.”
The layout has the electric motor’s power funnelled only to the rear axle, specifically to help with torque vectoring. The car itself runs the E63’s 4Matic+ high-performance all-wheel drive system, which offers a drift mode and launch control.
It will also find its way into a wide array of AMG-badged models, with the idea being to use it to sit above the higherpowered “S” badged versions of its larger cars. That list includes the GLE and GLS SUVs, E- and S-Class cars and a variety of coupes and GT sports cars.
AMG refuses to go into detail about whether the GT Concept will feature a plug-in hybrid system, though it seems inevitable.
Visually, there are clear links between the GT coupe, convertible and sedan models, with AMG combining MercedesBenz’s designers with its own to create short front overhangs and a sculpted rear end that is dominated by its enormous diffuser.
It takes advantage of a 2016 EU rule change that allows digital cameras to emerge from the side of the car instead of the aircatching buckets that side mirrors have become. It also uses a new lighting technology which swaps out traditional LED daytime running lights for a flexible cord of lights, while the roof is made from panoramic glass.
The interior is more likely to have four seats than five, with AMG insisting it will have a “variable interior and luggage compartment”, though that could just be a fancy way of describing a split-fold rear seat.
It won’t be AMG’s only standalone car in 2017, and it won’t even be the most anticipated, with the company planning to launch its 1,000hp Project One hypercar at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT THE GT CONCEPT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AMG IN THE PAST 20 YEARS
Don’t tone this one down Merc — we like it just the way it is. Left: The design of the concept matches the promise of serious performance.