Is it Auf Wiedersehen to AMG's non-turbo V8s?

By Matt Greenop

Driven reveals a work of art has come to the end of the road

The C63 Edition 507 may be the last Mercedes to pack such a turbo-free wallop.Pictures / Ted Baghurst
The C63 Edition 507 may be the last Mercedes to pack such a turbo-free wallop.Pictures / Ted Baghurst

Tear-in-the-eye moment coming up, people. In fact it might be a good idea if those who prefer the company of machines to humans don't read this at all.

During Driven's travels last week for the launch of Mercedes-Benz GLA compact SUV, we discovered that while things are all go at the small end of the scale, one of the true works of art at the other end might not be around for much longer.

I refer, of course, to the delightful 6.3-litre AMG V8. This naturally aspirated piece of engineering magnificence is not going to be around for long. In fact, the C63 Edition 507 that you see here may just be the last Mercedes to pack this turbo-free wallop.

There will be one more free breathing V8 on the books - the 5.5-litre SLK 55 AMG, with tree-cuddly effects like stop/start and cylinder deactivation helping keep it Euro friendly, although not for too much longer. Speaking with Mercedes-Benz board member Dr Thomas Weber on the sidelines of the company's GLA compact SUV launch in Spain, it was screamingly obvious just how important Mercedes' two modular platforms are to its foreseeable future.

There are two architectures, one for front drive vehicles called MFA and the upcoming MRA for rear drive machines. Both can be used in all-wheel-drive formats, obviously tailor-made to mate to the 4MATIC system.

MFA has currently spawned GLA, A-Class, B-Class and CLA vehicles in a number of variants, with one more to come. The next-gen C-Class, which will go on sale later this year, will sit on the platform, which carries through the larger machinery in the Benz showroom.

Dr Weber says AMG has been involved in the two platforms from the get-go, meaning that the cars will be built to accommodate everything from diesel power trains to the in-house tuner's stroppier incarnations without having to radically rebuild vehicles.

Mercedes AMG C63 Edition 507
Mercedes AMG C63 Edition 507

In fact, the only reason that the last version of the C-Class Coupe was fitted with that gorgeous 6.3 was that the 5.5-litre twin turbo, as per the E63, could not fit in the engine bay and keep the hairdryers.

"We are coming from a situation were we have designed each vehicle on a different platform, but we have changed this strategy some years ago with only two main architectures that will make up 90 per cent of our volume," explains Dr Weber.

"For example, the key front-drive architecture is the MFA with five vehicles (much more than 300k vehicles) and the other - which is the largest and most important in our line-up - is the Mercedes rear-wheel drive architecture. The launch on the new MRA architecture is the new C-Class.

"The MRA is a completely new architecture with much more aluminium, and with this we are able to do much more than 10 vehicles because all the vehicles we have in the C-Class will have successors and, of course, we will add some vehicles to this class. There are some other options available in the C-Class segment. The MRA platform is even more flexible, with more wheelbases possible the width can be differentiated. It is a completely modular approach. We can do SUVs, coupes, limousines and so on, and some vehicles you don't even know at the moment.

"The question is how much of a niche and in which sequence will we meet these niches."

Recognising that AMG's well-regarded models are far from being nice models, Dr Weber says a change of strategy will help produce the most cohesive and comprehensive range possible.

Mercedes AMG C63 Edition 507
Mercedes AMG C63 Edition 507

"AMG was always close to us. We have an intensive change of engineering that helps us to integrate AMG completely into the modular strategy of Mercedes-Benz, but also to keep them separated enough so they can do AMG. But we now know that has to be different for AMG to develop their cars.

"When we start a vehicle, the area of AMG is part of the spec book, the overall body that should be possible for an AMG."

This, underneath it all, means that the direct injection and turbochargers that are now fortifying AMG's offerings will be common throughout the ranges.

AMG's Oliver Weich was careful not to discount naturally aspirated engines in the future, but reading between the lines shows it all comes down to emissions legislation.

"The trend towards turbocharging is due to the EU regulations and to new regulations in other markets like China," he told Driven.

"We will continue to have the right cars for our customers, but will fit in with emissions laws and other environmental needs."

We asked bluntly if AMG could meet the next set of EU emissions targets with a 6.3 litre V8 without turbocharging and Weich simply laughed, shook his head and said "no way".

So is the $166,660 up-specced Edition 507 version of the C63 shown here going to be the last time we'll hear the sound of 378kW being produced without a high-tech hairdryer, relying on the simple mix of lots of fuel and lots of air? With the 283g of CO2 it spits out those four fat pipes every kilometre, it doesn't look good. Mercedes-Benz Australia's Jerry Stamoulis agrees that the noise is a vital part of the AMG package.

"One of the most important characteristics of an AMG is the sound produced by the exhaust and this is unique for each model," he said. "For example, an E 63 AMG and an S 63 AMG have a very different exhaust note, regardless of sharing the same engine. No matter what engine is fitted to an AMG vehicle, naturally aspirated or not, rest assured it will sound the way an AMG should and continue to stir the emotions of performance car enthusiasts. Though the naturally aspirated V8 will continue in the C 63 AMG Edition 507 Coupe, the engine will no longer be available after this model ends in 2015."

- NZ Herald

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