Currently reading: Mercedes-AMG CLE 63 switches four-pot PHEV for 585bhp V8
AMG lines up twin-turbo V8 power for upcoming super-coupé amid slow sales for four-cylinder hybrid C63

The upcoming Mercedes-AMG CLE 63 will receive a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine developing up to 585bhp, senior officials at the division’s Mercedes-Benz parent company have confirmed.

The decision reverses an earlier plan to give the hot new coupé and cabriolet the same 670bhp plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the latest C63 and GLC 63, due to slow sales of the saloon, estate and SUV.

Despite its class-leading performance, traditional AMG buyers haven’t taken to the E-Performance PHEV drivetrain, which combines a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a rear-axle mounted electric motor.

Sales of the models are currently well below those of their V8 predecessors across AMG’s global markets. The latest version of AMG’s M177 V8 engine, which features mild-hybrid technology, will power the most potent versions of the new CLE as a result, Autocar has been told.

Those models will be positioned above the CLE 53 Coupé and Cabriolet, which run a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine that produces 442bhp. The move comes as Mercedes’ performance car division sets about establishing the CLE as a direct rival to the BMW M4, which offers up to 542bhp from a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six in its most potent form.

Mercedes sources say the decision to provide the CLE with V8 power is related not only to the lukewarm response to the PHEV C63 and GLC 63 models but also to feedback from its global dealer network. Dealers had suggested the possible positioning of a four-cylinder CLE 63 range-topper above the six-cylinder CLE 53 would lead to confusion among potential customers.

Markus Schäfer, head of Mercedes-Benz’s R&D operations, has indicated the company is monitoring closely monitoring sales of the C63 and GLC 63 amid calls for them to return to V8 power. Speaking at last month’s Beijing show, Schäfer said it will be “up to customers to decide” whether AMG continues with its downsized petrol-electric drivetrain.

He added: “We will stay close to the feedback of people and customers, and then we will go from that.” Autocar first drove the latest C63 in late 2022, but the model is only now reaching the UK market. Only the GLC 63 has since been launched or confirmed with this drivetrain, leading to speculation that the four-cylinder PHEV option might be dropped.

Schäfer said the powertrain had been inspired by the downsized hybrids used in Formula 1, mixing “a high-performance internal combustion engine with a strong electrical side”.

He said it delivered “stunning, stunning performance”, but even so, the firm is still continuing to launch V8-powered AMG models too, including the new SL, the GT and the S63.

“We decided for the C-Class to go with the four-cylinder and a strong electrical side,” Schäfer said. “We decided for the GT and the S-Class to go with the eight [-cylinder] with the same electric side. We have to see what the customer ultimately decides.”

Back to top

Schäfer admitted that in conversations ahead of the Beijing show, Chinese customers “didn’t understand” the concept of the new C63’s drivetrain.

He added: “But we explained the concept, the rationale and where it came from, especially with reference to F1, and they started to understand what the idea behind it was.”

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Scribbler 12 May 2024

This is good news. So long as production of ICE cars remains possible/permitted, Mercedes should stick with V8 engines for its high performance cars.

manicm 11 May 2024

It's Merc admitting the C63 saloon is a dud. Simple as that.

TheSaintmobile 11 May 2024

I'm interested