Report: Mercedes-AMG Will Not Bring Back V8 Engines

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Earlier in the month, reports were circulating that Mercedes-AMG would be re-instituting V8 power for its high-performance variants of the C and E-Class. While just a rumor, the surrounding circumstances made it seem credible. Enthusiasts were displeased that the brand had elected to run with smaller, emissions-friendly powertrains and the resulting sales (at least in Germany) don’t appear to be all that robust.

However, subsequent reports have suggested that the automaker won’t be bringing back the 4.0-liter M177 V8 after all. 

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, sources from within the company have denied suggestions that larger engines would be returning to the AMG C and E63. One employee familiar with product development even said the premise was “pure nonsense,” leaving everyone tracking the story a little confused. 

The issue started when Mercedes began supplanting the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter M156 with the smaller 4.0-liter M177 in a bid to adhere to rising emissions standards in the mid-2010s. While some AMG purists expressed their distaste over the change, the end product retained most of the things people liked about the performance brand’s vehicles. 

But things changed rather drastically last year when AMG swapped out the V8 equipped with the C63 for a 2.0-liter turbo hybrid with four cylinders. The motor also looked to be removed from the E63 so the next generation could be fitted with a rumored hybrid inline-six engine. While the C63 boasted more power than ever before, with the company noting the electrified powertrain basically nullified turbo lag, its implementation made the vehicle significantly heavier and removed AMG’s signature V8 sound. 

Whereas the 4.0-liter V8 yielded 469 or 503 horsepower inside older C63 models, the new hybrid powertrain offers 671 peak hp in a package designed to offer superior efficiency. This technically makes the Mercedes-AMG 2.0-liter engine the most powerful production four-banger ever made and has resulted in a vehicle that’s notably faster to 100 mph than the V8-equipped forebearer. 

Torque also pitched way up, which is important due to how much weight ended up being added by the 4.8-kWh battery and rear electric motor. The new model is about 700 pounds heavier than its predecessor, which means it’s also roughly 700 pounds heavier than the competition. 

Fans have expressed mixed opinions about the changes. More power was good and so was better acceleration. But there were gripes about the weight and the fact it boasted a nearly pointless charging port. Now a plug-in hybrid, the C63 now offered a scant battery range of just a few miles under ideal circumstances and loads more components to contend with. Those hoping to modify their AMGs didn’t like just how complex the vehicle had become and those hoping to hoon the C63 fretted over how much abuse the system could take. 

Complaints were also made about the hybrid system’s brake regen spoiling pedal feel and how much power was lost when the overboost function (limited to 10 seconds a pop) was on cool down. This meant peak power wasn’t always available when you stomped the throttle. But nothing made fans sadder than the absent noise of the V8 motor. While just about all auto enthusiasts can appreciate the sound of smaller engines, some definitely sound better than others and everyone seemed to miss the rumble of the old engine. 

With the above in mind, sales of the tech-forward C63 are allegedly in danger. While AMG sales were already declining, retailers have suggested that the new model isn’t performing well due to changes in its setup and higher price tag. We’ll need more time to amass the relevant data but German dealers have called the model a “slow seller,” according to the MB Passion Blog.

This made any mentions that Mercedes could be bringing back the V8 feel totally plausible, especially when they were backed by Car and Driver. But subsequent reports have suggested that the C63 will soldier on as a 2.0-liter PHEV, with the E-Class AMG likely to go with a hybridized straight six. 

With Auto Motor und Sport based in Stuttgart, one assumes they’ve got decent access to Mercedes employees. But another round of unnamed sources has left us uncertain of what to think. AMG making the V8 a regional thing seems extremely unlikely, especially since the company originally shrank the motor to comply with changing emissions laws in its home market. However, we know the new powertrain has resulted in some varied opinions and potentially damaged sales. 

Maybe there are some internal wires being crossed and there are indeed a subset of engineers trying to figure out how to make V8 power work on markets outside of Europe. Sadly, we’re unlikely to get any answers until the company is formally willing to commit to something and that’s not going to happen until Mercedes actually has something tangible to show off.

[Image: Mercedes]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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5 of 24 comments
  • Tassos Tassos on Aug 15, 2023

    As long as they keep the EMPEROR S 65 AMG V12, I could care less if they eliminate all V8s, V6, I4s and I-3s and only offer one-cylinder 0.9 lt with six turbos.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 15, 2023

    • ICE flame front propagates at a fixed rate.

    • With smaller bore, combustion is completed more quickly.

    Therefore, smaller engine → faster car.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 18, 2023

      I never claimed to be an engine designer -- I are a Scientist!

      If you want to argue with Physics, go ahead, I have tried that and lost.

      P.S. If you want to destroy a satirical argument, it would be a lot more entertaining to actually refute the 'logic' -- are you capable of doing that with the three statements given above? (Extra credit if you can dial down the butthurt whilst doing so)

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