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

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

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.

CLEAR LINKS

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.

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