Mercedes-AMG CLE 63 switches four-pot PHEV for 585bhp V8

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.”

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