Downsized turbos power AMG

words - Mike Sinclair
The end is nigh for Mercedes-Benz AMG's big atmo engines, confirms new boss

Mercedes-AMG CEO and Chairman Tobias Moers says smaller turbocharged engines are the future for the AMG brand.

Downsized force-fed engines might concern some inside and outside the Mercedes-Benz hot-shop, whose reputation is based on years of thumping naturally aspirated V8s, but not the German performance brand’s new boss.

“That’s part of the strategic discussion for the future, because downsizing is not a Mercedes-Benz or AMG thing, but it’s facing everybody in the automotive industry...”

Moers says AMG has already faced the end of traditional ‘atmo’ engines and learned that turbocharged powertrains can deliver on the brand’s values regarding performance, driveability and the hard-to-measure ‘emotional’ component of what makes a powerplant special.

“Honestly, I love the natural aspirated engine -- because in terms of throttle response and everything, it’s really an icon, more or less... But the thing is we [have] learned a lot about turbocharged engines and I think in terms of throttle response and directness, and response to driver’s wishes and everything, it’s [now] a good approach, actually.

“So what we gain [learn] out there [from existing turbo fours and V8], we will take into the next development of another engine for the future.

“I don’t have that fear from a turbocharged engine... The time is over for naturally aspirated engines. If you look for fuel-efficiency and power output and torque output and you have to combine all the targets, the result is clear what you have to do for the future,” Moers stated.

AMG’s first turbocharged four-cylinder engine leads the world in terms of total and specific (kW/litre) power output. A ‘modular’ engine, Moers confirmed it could form the basis for a new 4.0-litre V8.

At the same potent level of tune as the engine in the CLA/A45, a V8 based on the ‘45’ engine would easily top the outputs of AMG’s current twin-turbo 5.5-litre and atmo 6.2-litre V8s. Simple mathematics suggests an output of more than 510kW (680hp) could be achieved.

But Moers cautions that AMG is not about to reignite a kiloWatt ‘war’ with its competitors.

“I think it’s [power increases] getting slower. In the future, maybe you add sometimes some electrical forces to that, electrical power units to [supplement performance], but I think a C-Class [at] 485-500 horsepower [360-372kW] is, in my personal view is, it’s OK. There’s no 600 horsepower [447kW] C-Class need for somebody.

“But we are part of that battle and I think we slow down a little bit -- because there’s no sense to [continual power increases],” he stated.

And what of those added “electrical forces”? Is there a hybrid in AMG’s future? Moers says yes, thanks to learnings from the SLS e-Cell, but no time soon.

“There’s nothing now decided what we do for the future with all the knowledge we gain. But we have a lot of strategic discussions on how we can use it and I think sooner or later, there will be hybrid – there is no doubt. Maybe for an SUV platform...

“It’s not a no-go. We are not always behind a dogma. We ask always the same question: with these cars are we on the right track? Do we have to adjust something?” Moers explained.

“Because if you run always just your track, then you lose sometimes the race... That’s not a good idea...”

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Published : Thursday, 17 October 2013
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