Whether on track or on the road, Mercedes’ AMG brand offers a broad array of models that have relied on a variety of methods to maximize performance, including turbo and supercharging. Now, however, AMG is pushing into a new world with the upcoming launch of the E53.
The performance version of the familiar Mercedes E-Class will pair a turbocharged inline-six engine with an electrically driven supercharger to turn out an impressive 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. But unlike traditional “blowers,” which need to rev up before they deliver full boost, the new system will deliver maximum power essentially the moment the driver’s foot hits the throttle.
“Electric forced induction devices mitigate turbo lag,” explains Brian Cotter, the U.S. product manager for the AMG brand. But it promises to do even more, Cotter says, suggesting that electrified drivetrain technology could radically change the world of performance driving in the coming years.
(Mercedes previews new all-electric EQ line with test drive of Concept EQA. Click Here for more.)
Tesla has already shown the performance potential for all-electric drivetrains, a Model S sedan equipped with Ludicrous Mode capable of launching from 0 to 60 in 2.3 seconds, about the same as the now discontinued Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. While current Tesla models quickly overheat driven to the extreme, Jaguar this month demonstrated the capabilities of its new I-Pace all-electric SUV by running lap after lap on the Autodromo Internacional Algarve track in southern Portugal.
Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and even Ferrari are expected to launch their own high-performance battery-electric vehicles over the next several years.
Mercedes-AMG actually was the first to try its hand at an all-electric performance car, launching a limited-run version of its exotic SLS model in late 2013. But the new AMG E53 marks the first time the Mercedes subsidiary will use electrification to power up a more mainstream model.
Unlike the SLS, the E53 will primarily rely on an internal combustion engine for power, in this case, a 3.0-liter inline-six. It will be paired with a conventional exhaust gas-driven turbocharger, as well as a forced induction system drawing power from a 48-volt battery pack. Essentially, it will be a motor-driven supercharger.
One advantage is that it won’t leech power from the gas engine. In fact, the new package won’t have an energy-robbing accessory belt drive, essentially all accessories also powered by that 48-volt battery pack. The other big plus is that this forced induction system won’t have to wait for the engine to rev up. Electric motors generate maximum torque the moment they’re switched on.
The E53 also will get a boost from a beefed-up starter-generator system that serves multiple duties, including the vehicle’s Stop/Start feature. It also will kick in up to 21 additional horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, primarily at launch.
“It never impacts peak torque levels” of 384 pound-feet, Cotter said.
The new electric assist system is actually already available in Europe on the mainstream Mercedes-Benz S-Class and it will also appear this year on the CLS 450, there making a more modest 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet.
(Click Here for a review of the all-new electric Jaguar I-Pace.)
The E53 will mark the debut of a beefed-up version in an AMG performance model. It will be available in sedan, coupe and cabriolet body styles in the U.S. Other products are expected to follow.
“Electrification is really the future of performance,” the AMG manager stressed. And , though Cotter wouldn’t discuss specific plans, he noted that AMG’s 4-door GT Concept relied on a V-8 hybrid drivetrain. The performance brand’s new I-6 engine is “scalable,” he added, with a 2.0-liter four in the family, as well as a 4.0-liter V-8.
The latter could eventually serve as a supplement, perhaps even a replacement, for the V-8s used in AMG’s most extreme models, such as the current E63, according to well-placed sources.
Meanwhile, AMG insiders acknowledge their interest in the new line-up of all-electric models the Mercedes-Benz brand is developing, including the EQA sedan and EQC crossover. The latter will serve as the launch vehicle for the new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand. Could these battery-cars get the AMG treatment in the coming years? Considering where the market is heading, it would be a bigger surprise if Mercedes’ performance brand didn’t eventually weigh in.
(Mercedes tooling up French plant to taken on Tesla Model 3. Click Here for the story.)