M, AMG set to take the über sedan fight to hybrid next level
Mercedes AMG and BMW M are about to take their E 63 versus M5 battle into a wild new electrified future. Both companies are applying the finishing touches to ultra-powerful, yet more efficient next generation performance hybrid cars.
Rather than compromising performance however, both cars will take the ultimate saloon battle to unheard of levels of performance. Munich and Affalterbach’s heady new technology plug in hybrid power units will still meet increasingly draconian emissions law.
Straight-six plug in hybrid Mercedes AMG E 63
The next Mercedes-AMG E63 S E Performance is set to dump its biturbo V8 for an advanced all-new straight-six plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The first of several Mercedes-AMG models to adopt the new straight-six P3 electrified Performance power unit, the E63 will introduce a heavily reworked 3-litre petrol straight-six engine to the electric motor on the rear axle
AMG is chasing in excess of 550 kW and 1,200 Nm from the longitudinally mounted M256 turbo six. It shares several key elements, including an 83 mm bore, 90 mm bore centre spacing and other internal dimensions, with the four cylinder M139L C 63 and the GT 63’s M177 V8. It turns AMG’s nine-speed Speedshift MCT gearbox and 4-motion AWD
Using the same asynchronous motor as its C 63 and GT 63 kin, it adds a 150 kW via two-speed electronically controlled limited-slip differential directly into the rear axle. AMG says that this is the key to its high outputs. They say that output is not limited by the gearbox, because motor powers the rear wheels directly….
M5 to gain more powerful XM plug in hybrid V8
Unlike Mercedes, which feeds its e-power in through the rear axle, the BMW rather takes its electric drive in through its transmission integrated electric motor. Which means that the entire all-wheel drive system benefits the advantage of full electric and combustion power. Rather than a little e-power here, some piston drive there. Swings and roundabouts?
BMW has already shown its M5 hand in the XM plug-in hybrid. M5 will share a version of XM’s 4.4-litre V8-based plug-in petrol electric power unit. The V8 is re-engineered to meet draconian forthcoming Euro 7 emissions standards. It will work in tandem with the electric motor ‘drive system.’ to deliver approaching 600 kW and 1,300 Nm in Competition get up.
‘Agile and dynamic’, BMW’s lightweight fifth-generation M eDrive hybrid system generates power levels normally achieved by a far larger unit. It has a 280 Nm permanently excited synchronous electric motor pre-geared to deliver 450 Nm. Integrated to BMW’s 8-speed M Steptronic transmission, it turns xDrive AWD with a rear power bias in sportier modes.
The BMW XM’s larger, and heavier 25.7-kWh battery pack is good for about 50 km of electric-only range off a full charge. Whether BMW opts for that, or scales down to a smaller, lighter battery and less range, remains to be seen. Despite being a performance hybrid, the E 63 should still deliver an electric-only range of around 15 km.
Expect both to beat existing M5, E63 performance
Mercedes’ e-motor is fed by an 89 kg 400 volt lithium ion battery with a usable 4.8 kWh on hand, mounted under the boot floor. Developed by AMG in partnership with Mercedes’ High Performance Powertrains division, it has four levels of energy regeneration.
The E 63 will feature revised Mercedes C Class Modular Rear Architecture with double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension and four-wheel steering for the first time. The M5 gets an up-rated version of BMW’s CLAR platform, which supports mild-hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric powertrains.
Both cars’ hybrid hardware, and the battery needed to run a powerful electric motor will however offset be the extra power and torque advantages that such a system brings. These naturally heavier hybrid cars will by nature surely still lose a modicum of their predecessors’ natural agility.
Still, expect the new AMG to demolish Auto’s existing E63 S’ 3.18 second test result, and M5 Competition to better our record 2.97 second run to 100 km/h. They call it progress! – Michele Lupini
Sketches: Michele Lupini