Hybrid Power for Performance As Well As Efficiency
While we typically think of hybrids and electric cars in terms of improved efficiency and reduced emissions, they often come with a performance benefit as well. The instantaneous torque of electric motors means that they can help deliver impressive acceleration as well as reduced consumption. Mercedes-Benz’s latest-generation compact performance SUVs, the AMG GLC 43 and AMG GLC 63 S E-performance, are two great examples of how hybrids can be fast and powerful as well as efficient. Instead of the six- and eight-cylinder engines used by their predecessors, they both use a small, powerful four-cylinder engine fortified by the latest, race-bred hybrid technology.
Hybrid AMG GLC 43 and Plug-In GLC 63
Both new Mercedes SUVs feature a powerful new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric turbocharger. Developed entirely at AMG’s Affalterbach, Germany headquarters, the engine is hand-built by one person from start to finish.
The electric turbocharger is a new and unique feature introduced on this engine, adapted from technology used by Mercedes-Benz’s Formula 1 team to great success in motorsport for many years. This innovative turbo guarantees instantaneous throttle response, with no turbo lag at any engine speed, and also helps increase the efficiency of the new engine. Powered by a 48-volt electrical system, the turbo operates at speeds of up to 175,000 rpm.
In the less-powerful AMG GLC 43, the engine is coupled with an electric belt-driven starter-generator motor that adds 13 hp to its own 416 hp. Total system output is 429 hp, an improvement compared to the previous GLC 43, while fuel consumption is down. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard, with a specific performance-oriented AMG setup and a “speedshift” nine-speed automatic transmission. The GLC 43 accelerates from a 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and its top speed is 155 mph.
AMG GLC: Electric Turbocharger
The more-powerful AMG GLC 63 couples the new gasoline engine with a complex and powerful new plug-in hybrid system. It starts with a significantly larger electric turbocharger, delivering a higher air flow rate and thus more power. In addition to the integrated starter-generator coupled to the engine, there is a powerful 201-hp electric motor on the rear axle, which is integrated with an electrically-shifted two-speed transmission and limited-slip rear differential. The compact electric drive unit, which Mercedes calls a “P3 hybrid” is driven by a new 400-volt high-voltage system and 6.1-kWh battery. The battery is charged using regenerative braking, or with an on-board AC charger with plug-in capability.
Designed for maximum performance rather than maximum range, the battery is designed specifically for fast power delivery and has an innovative direct cooling system. A high-tech coolant using electrically non-conductive liquid flows around all of the battery’s 560 individual cells. It delivers: total system output of the AMG GLC 63 is a staggering 671 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful series-production four-cylinder in the world. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes just 3.4 seconds, despite the weight of the batteries, and the top speed is electronically limited to 171 mph.
Both the AMG GLC 43 and AMG GLC 63 benefit from the additional control possibilities of their hybrid drivetrains. Instead of using the vehicle’s brakes to stabilize the car during cornering, the electric motor can control traction when a wheel starts to slip. This means the stability control system doesn’t have to cut power from the combustion engine, making for improved agility and a more seamless driving experience. Additionally, the GLC 43 offers you five different drive modes, while the more powerful GLC 63 offers a mind-boggling eight drive modes to allow you to tailor the driving experience to your specific tastes and conditions.
Sporty and Luxurious Details Inside and Out
Both new AMG GLC models come with numerous unique design elements that highlight their high-performance hybrid character. These elements include a specific AMG radiator grill with vertical fins, large air intakes and air curtains on the front bumper, and an aggressive rear diffuser. There are big rear exhaust pipes – four round ones on the AMG GLC 43 and trapezoidal ones on the GLC 63.
Inside, specific seats upholstered in synthetic leather and microfiber upholstery give a sporty touch, with the option of even more aggressive race-style seats. There’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel with aluminum gearshift paddles and rotary controls to select the various drive4 modes. The infotainment system integrates numerous additional functions, including special performance-oriented digital displays such as a vertically-oriented AMG “supersport” look for the instruments and a racetrack data logger that records more than 80 vehcile data points such as speed, acceleration, and steering angle.
AMG GLC: Customization Options
Numerous additional packages let you customize the new AMG GLC models to suit your tastes. There’s an AMG night package with high-gloss black trim for the exterior instead of chrome, and a carbon-fiber exterior package adds visible carbon to the front bumper, side sills, and rear.
Mercedes-Benz has not yet announced final starting MSRPs for the new AMG GLC 43 and AMG GLC 63. We expect to see these new high-performance hybrids on our shores in late 2023.