AMG hy­per­car to be pow­ered by gen­uine 1000bhp F1 power unit


AMG’s hy­per­car and new car launches this month

MERCEDES WILL CEL­E­BRATE THE 50th an­niver­sary of its AMG per­for­mance divi­sion through­out 2017. The com­pany is plan­ning an event at the Nür­bur­gring 24 Hours in May, and at the Detroit mo­tor show in Jan­uary it un­veiled a new ver­sion of the AMG GT, called the GT C, which slots in neatly be­tween the GT S and the range-top­ping GT R. Much more ex­cit­ing than a birth­day party and a de­riv­a­tive model, though, is AMG’s forth­com­ing 1000bhp, For­mula 1-en­gined road-le­gal hy­per­car.

I met up with AMG CEO To­bias Mo­ers in Detroit to quiz him on the divi­sion’s plans for the year and, of course, the car likely to be the high­light of 2017. What you need to know about Mo­ers is that he gives forth­right in­ter­views. Ask him a ques­tion he doesn’t want to an­swer and he’ll give you a short, ir­ri­tated re­ply, more of­ten than not a sin­gle word, or maybe even just a glare.

‘We will do an event at the Nür­bur­gring,’ he said, curtly, ‘but I don’t think we’ll have a party at the fac­tory and in­vite ev­ery­body.’

I’ve in­ter­viewed Mo­ers enough times to know that you don’t press him on some­thing he doesn’t want to talk about. I also know that when you do luck upon some­thing he’s ac­tu­ally in­ter­ested in, he can give away far more than you ever dared hope for as the press of­fi­cer who’s with him squirms and winces.

That’s how I know the new hy­per­car will have four elec­tric mo­tors, one on each wheel, with torque-vec­tor­ing on the front axle (where it’s most ef­fec­tive) and ac­tive aero­dy­nam­ics. It’ll be a road-le­gal two-seater, cost­ing ‘two point some­thing mil­lion euros’, and 200-300 will be built. It will have a lit­tle over 1000bhp and weigh slightly more than 1100kg. And its main propul­sion unit will be a Mercedes For­mula 1 en­gine…

‘Project One is the work­ing ti­tle for the hy­per­car,’ said Mo­ers, push­ing a glossy black brochure my way. ‘This is the brochure we’re send­ing to prospec­tive cus­tomers right now.’ It’s notepad-sized and just 12 or 14 pages thick. The copy in­side only runs to a few hun­dred words, but most bil­lion­aire car nuts liv­ing in the Mid­dle East or wher­ever will al­most cer­tainly wire over their de­posits be­fore they’ve even read it.

Both the 1.6-litre V6 turbo en­gine and the hy­brid sys­tem will come from Mercedes’ For­mula 1 car. That’s the same power unit that has dom­i­nated F1 for the past three sea­sons, win­ning con­sec­u­tive teams’ and driv­ers’ ti­tles as well as count­less races along the way. The more one thinks about it, the more out­ra­geous it seems to put an F1 mo­tor into a road car. ‘It is crazy,’ agreed Mo­ers. ‘It’s never been done be­fore. Mercedes is the only com­pany that’s ca­pa­ble of do­ing this.’

But it’s just a de­riv­a­tive of the F1 en­gine and not the real thing, surely… Or it has the same ba­sic me­chan­i­cal lay­out but it’s ac­tu­ally a new unit in its own right. ‘No, it’s the For­mula 1 en­gine. Okay, the crank house is cast and not ma­chined due to the vol­umes. And it is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent be­cause we’ve moved the idle revs down from 4000 to 2200rpm, but the red line is still above 10,000rpm. We have the split turbo. We have the same crank. We still have very good ther­mal ef­fi­ciency. We’re go­ing to use the bat­tery from the For­mula 1 car, but in a big­ger size. The one and only rea­son for do­ing this car is that it has the same en­gine as the For­mula 1 car.’

Nat­u­rally, mak­ing an F1 power

unit road le­gal has been an enor­mous chal­lenge for Mercedes’ High Per­for­mance Pow­er­train (HPP) team in Brix­worth, Northamp­ton­shire, and de­spite the very low pro­duc­tion num­bers the car still needs to meet all the usual emis­sions reg­u­la­tions. ‘There’s no ex­emp­tion,’ said Mo­ers. ‘We’ve got to do it. With­out tricks. It’s a huge chal­lenge for Brix­worth. We’ve in­vested in a new bench there and we fired up the first en­gine in De­cem­ber last year.’

A cou­ple of hours be­fore my in­ter­view, Mo­ers an­nounced that the hy­per­car will have a 25km elec­tric range, which means it’ll have plug-in ca­pa­bil­ity. He didn’t care to dis­cuss the prospec­tive cus­tomers with me, but did say there are some fa­mous names on the list, in­clud­ing a few we wouldn’t ex­pect. He also con­firmed there’ll be a driver train­ing pro­gramme, but was keen to point out that buy­ers won’t need a team of tech­ni­cians to start the car. ‘Just turn the key and go for a drive.’

The Project One, to be un­veiled at the Frankfurt mo­tor show in Septem­ber, was Mo­ers’ idea. ‘I phoned Andy Cow­ell at HPP and asked him to do me a favour,’ he ex­plained. That’s why Mo­ers was so forth­com­ing when asked about it, so ea­ger to re­veal all the juicy de­tails. The hy­per­car isn’t a van­ity project, though. It will serve a broader pur­pose for Mercedes, and that’s to pre­pare you and me for hy­brid-pow­ered series pro­duc­tion AMGs. They’ll ar­rive af­ter 2020.

With As­ton Martin’s own ul­tra­ex­pen­sive, su­per-ex­otic, warp-speed hy­per­car – the Adrian Newey-penned AM-RB 001 – also on the way, it seems we’re edg­ing to­wards the most spec­tac­u­lar twin-test of all time.

The one and only rea­son for do­ing this car is that it has the same en­gine as the

For­mula 1 car

Above: An in­formed ren­der­ing of what Project One could look like. Be­low: The whole AMG GT fam­ily in­clud­ing, in yel­low, the new GT C


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