SU­PER COUPES

Mercedes-amg and Alfa Romeo prepare to take power to the next level

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ANDY EN­RIGHT

E-boosted Alfa GTV and MERC-AMG C63 set to arc up the seg­ment

THE SPORTS coupe has evolved. Alfa Romeo is work­ing on a 447kw two-door ver­sion of the Gi­u­lia while Mercedes-amg is look­ing to cre­ate an ath­lete in the shape of its nextgen­er­a­tion 400kw C63 coupe. Both will fea­ture fash­ion­ably down­sized tur­bocharged pow­er­plants and both will de­liver tan­ta­lis­ing di­ver­sions from the per­for­mance tem­plate for each mar­que.

The coupe ver­sion of the Gi­u­lia was long-ru­moured as a log­i­cal model ex­ten­sion on the Gior­gio plat­form, but out­go­ing FCA boss Ser­gio Mar­chionne amped up ex­pec­ta­tion at the group’s Cap­i­tal Mar­kets Day, where the plans for the next five years are un­veiled. The coupe will re­vive the clas­sic GTV name­plate, a badge last seen

on the un­der­whelm­ing 916-series front-drive cars that last rolled off Pin­in­fa­rina’s Gior­gio Canavese line back in 2004.

This one is very dif­fer­ent. Al­though the front tyres are tasked with trans­fer­ring torque, they’ll be mi­nor­ity play­ers, step­ping in to help the rears de­ploy a power fig­ure that is set to be at least 600 horse­power, or 447kw if you pre­fer. That fig­ure de­serves a lit­tle con­tex­tu­al­is­ing. It’s more than a Ferrari 458 Spe­ciale, shades a cur­rent Porsche 911 Turbo S and means more mus­cle than a Nis­san GT-R Nismo. The lat­ter is in­struc­tive as the AWD Nis­san will ac­cel­er­ate to 100km/h in 2.7 sec­onds, de­spite weigh­ing 1739kg. Should the GTV hit a tar­get weight of around 1685kg, its step-off will be ut­terly con­cus­sive.

Per­for­mance will be aided by the fit­ment of an E-boost sys­tem, which FCA claims will in­crease power by 25 per­cent and, in the process, vir­tu­ally elim­i­nate turbo lag. That uptick in power would see the out­put of the 2.9-litre V6 (cur­rently mak­ing 375kw in Gi­u­lia Quadri­foglio and Stelvio Q) lifted to above the 447kw tar­get. The AWD sys­tem will be a ver­sion of the Maserati Le­vante-de­rived hard­ware seen in the Stelvio Q com­plete with torque-vec­tor­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial. In ad­di­tion to the halo Quadri­foglio model, there’s also likely to be a 260kw E-boosted ver­sion of the cur­rent 208kw 2.0-litre turbo four.

Alfa prom­ises a per­fect 50:50 front-to-rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion and func­tional rear seats in a model that will be a key player in FCA’S plans to steadily el­e­vate Alfa Romeo’s brand eq­uity.

One thing the GTV can’t count on is an un­op­posed run at things in the pre­mium two-door mar­ket. Mercedes-amg is plan­ning to take a di­ver­gent tack from the usual C-class coupe script with its next gen­er­a­tion model. Whereas AMG prod­ucts have of­ten sought to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves by be­ing the most pow­er­ful cars in their re­spec­tive classes, the 2021 model-year C63 will now fo­cus on dy­nam­ics and ath­leti­cism.

Power is set to be capped at no more than 400kw, al­ready up 25kw on the fig­ure that AMG boss

Tobias Mo­ers once cited as be­ing the limit for man­age­able trac­tion in such rear-drive cars. He had set about ready­ing the mar­ket at this year’s New York auto show when he said that the all-new C63 “will be a hy­brid – that’s now a given.” What we weren’t pre­pared for was how in­tri­cate the new car’s hy­brid sys­tem would be.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for the de­vel­op­ment of the hy­brid tech has gone to Mercedes-amg High Per­for­mance Pow­er­trains, the en­gi­neer­ing team re­spon­si­ble for the oily bits that sit be­hind Lewis Hamil­ton’s nog­gin, as well as the Force In­dia and Wil­liams units. F1 fans will also be fa­mil­iar with the name Il­mor, which was ul­ti­mately taken over by Daim­ler-chrysler in 2005, the Brix­worth-based out­fit also charged with de­vel­op­ing the driv­e­line for the AMG Project One hy­per­car, it­self a car that has grown in im­por­tance within Daim­ler’s por­fo­lio due to up­dated endurance rac­ing reg­u­la­tions that will al­low for such cars to ap­pear at races like Le Mans from 2020.

With the larger E63 be­ing po­si­tioned as the ball-tear­ing hotrod in the AMG sedan port­fo­lio, the C63 needs to work smarter as well as harder. The 6.2-litre M156 V8 engine that de­buted in 2008 gave way to a 4.0-litre twin-turbo M177 engine in 2015; now the flag­ship C-class looks set to go smaller still in its next it­er­a­tion with our Mercedes source sug­gest­ing that it may shrink to a six-pot, al­beit aug­mented with hy­brid tech, a ki­netic en­ergy re­cov­ery sys­tem and tur­bocharg­ing. That makes a de­vel­op­ment of the M256 in-line 3.0-litre six-cylin­der unit, as fit­ted to the cur­rent Mercedes-amg CLS53, the most likely can­di­date for teas­ing out the ad­di­tonal re­quired 80kw of grunt.

The styling fol­lows the CLS’S lead, with sim­i­lar lights and the ex­ten­sion of Mercedes’ cur­rent de­sign di­rec­tion of elim­i­nat­ing un­nec­es­sary swage lines from the car’s flanks. A Panamer­i­cana grille and a sim­i­larly pug­na­cious flared­guard stance to the cur­rent C63 can be taken as read.

With BMW also plan­ning to in­tro­duce its next-gen G82 M4 in 2021, pow­ered by a 375kw straight six with e-charg­ers and wa­ter in­jec­tion, the Mercedes-amg C63 will have a very tan­gi­ble ri­val that will threaten its sales dom­i­nance in Aus­tralia. Nis­san has hinted that its next-gen GT-R is also likely to ap­pear in 2021. This looks set to fea­ture an elec­tri­fied six­cylin­der engine and of­fer nearhy­per­car per­for­mance.

Where the bal­lis­tic Alfa will slot into the mar­ket is an­other is­sue al­to­gether. By in­creas­ing power enor­mously and run­ning the GTV Quadri­foglio on an AWD chas­sis, it’s likely that Alfa’s flag­ship coupe will be nearer C63 than M4 pric­ing.

What­ever your pref­er­ence, it’s re­as­sur­ing that this com­ing gen­er­a­tion of e-boosted six-pot su­per­coupes looks set to crank up a new, even fiercer ri­valry.

E-boost would see the out­put of the 2.9-litre V6 (cur­rently mak­ing 375kw in Gi­u­lia Quadri­foglio and Stelvio Q) lifted above the 447kw tar­get

WHEELS IMAGES

MERC’S M256 3.0 SIX PAIRS WITH A 48V-BASED ELEC­TRIC AUXILIARY COM­PRES­SOR AND IN­TE­GRATED STARTER-ALTERNATOR TO ELIM­I­NATE LAG

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