Merc NZ mulls AMG's hot new number

A new-generation mild hybrid performance engine unveiled by AMG seems to stand reasonable chance of local adoption.

KEEN Kiwi interest in AMG’s performance twin-turbo V6 has spurred the local distributor to now give consideration to adding a next step technology.

Auckland-domiciled Mercedes Benz New Zealand says it cannot yet categorically confirm that the new 335kW ‘53’-badged engine, a straight six that also runs dual turbos but adds in mild hybrid assistance as well, has a place in its lineup.

However, local brand boss Ben Giffin has offered that the warm welcome his customers have given the ‘43’ V6 that launched here a year ago and now fits into a number of models suggests there’s a local willingness to adopt six-cylinder alternates to the brand’s staple V8 fare, presented behind the ‘63’ signature.

“We are extremely pleased with the uptake the Mercedes-AMG ‘43’ range has had in the New Zealand market, becoming a brilliant first step into the range of AMG performance vehicles,” Giffin said today.

“We cannot currently confirm local launch for the ‘53’ models, but will wait with anticipation for the arrival of the vehicles, with confidence that it will provide another genuine performance option for our customers.”

Conceivably, a first taste for this next-step powerplant is not too far away; Benz presented the ‘53’ in the new Mercedes-AMG CLS and E-class coupe and cabriolet variants at the just-ended Detroit motor show.

AMG chairman Tobias Moers has made clear that the new engine  is expected to play a big part in AMG’s gradual transition toward a hybridised future.

There is talk that it might also, over time, gradually push out the ‘43’ unit, a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that in its main placement, the C-Class, produces 270kW/520Nm – against 375kW and 700Nm out of a C63 – and is paired with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. 

The ‘53’, by comparison, generates the same level of torque, but markedly more power – some 319kW being cited for the CLS53 and E53 variants, and with significant efficiency improvements.

The core component is the new M256 engine, an in-line six that – despite appearing on wholly orthodox form in the just released S-Class update – has been specifically engineered for electrification.

It will be one of several engines to usher in an era of 48-volt power for Mercedes Benz, embracing an Integrated Starter-Alternator and electric auxiliary compressor which boosts up 70,000rpm in just 300 milliseconds.

Together the two systems act as a hybrid-lite, briefly delivering an extra 10-15kW of boosting performance – plus an additional 249Nm of torque - when it’s needed to cover for either turbo lag or spool up. In this instance, the turbocharging enacts by means of an electric compressor and an exhaust gas turbocharger.

The engine is also mated to a standard nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic gearbox and fully variable 4Matic Plus four-wheel-drive system.

In the 1895kg E53 Coupe, the new driveline provides 0-100kmh acceleration in a claimed 4.4 seconds. The 1980kg E53 Cabriolet and 1905kg CLS 53 are both claimed to have a 0-100kmh time of 5.3s. All three new AMG models run to a governed 250kmh top speed.

For reference, the E43 sedan has a claimed 0-100kmh time of 4.7s and the same top speed.

The 53-series AMG models are set to crown their individual line-ups, with Mercedes-AMG confirming that there are no plans for full-blown 63-series models in the E-Class Coupé, E-Class Cabriolet and new CLS ranges.

Differentiating the CLS 53, E53 Coupé and E53 Cabriolet from their standard siblings is a series of traditional AMG design elements, including a twin-blade grille, uniquely styled bumpers, wider sills and signature AMG tailpipes. The new models come as standard on 19-inch wheels, with 20s as an option.

Unique interior touches include a new AMG performance steering wheel.