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First drive: Benz AMG takes out super

Unforced: New AMGs swap supercharging for a ballistic new atmo V8.

Now on sale, Mercedes’ M-busting AMG 63 V8s provide power without the puffer

Mercedes-Benz logo24 Oct 2006

SUPERCHARGERS are out as Mercedes-Benz relaunches its answer to BMW’s M cars, as well as the Audi RS series, with the AMG 63 range. Four disparate models are now available with an all-new AMG V8, combined with a seven-speed auto.

In price order is the W164 ML63 AMG luxury SUV, the C209 CLK63 AMG coupe and the W211 E63 AMG and C219 CLS63 AMG sedans, with the CLK and E-class also offered in A209 convertible and S211 wagon iterations respectively.

A W221 S-class variant – the S63 AMG – is scheduled to slot into the series in the middle of 2007, along with the C216 CL63 AMG and W251 R63 AMG, bringing the 63 AMG total to seven for now.

Other AMG models, including the new $450,000, V12-powered S65 and W203 C55 AMG sedans, will remain on sale.

At the heart of AMG 63 range is a new 6.2-litre V8, a 90-degree twin overhead cam V8 displacing 6208cc and featuring four valves per cylinder, a 102.2mm bore and 94.6mm stroke, and a compression ratio of 11.3:1.

Mercedes says that German law insists that manufacturers round the figure up to the next whole number, hence the 6.3-litre, or ‘63’ tag.

The power output for most AMG 63 models vary ML: 375kW at 6800rpm CLK: 354kW at 6800rpm CLS and E: 378kW at 6800rpm and S: 386kW at 6800rpm.

Curiously though, the torque top is the same for all – 630Nm at 5200rpm (5000rpm in the CLK), with a maximum engine speed of 7000rpm.

Mercedes-Benz describes this powerplant as the first in the world "to combine the high-revving concept with a large displacement". Its power-per-litre output is 62.2kW, while delivering 101.5Nm per litre.

The company also claims that the 6.2-litre V8 delivers 20 per cent more torque than comparable naturally aspirated engines with a similar power rating. At 2000rpm there is already 500Nm on offer.

 center imageFrom top: E63 AMG, CLK63 AMG and ML63 AMG.

Developed and hand-built at the wholly owned DaimlerChrysler AG subsidiary in Affalterbach (near Stuttgart) in Germany, the V8 is exclusively AMG’s, and shares nothing with any existing production engine from Mercedes-Benz.

Manufactured from high-strength aluminium, it was devised using the company’s extensive motorsport experience and expertise.

Reflecting this is the vertical arrangement of the intake and exhaust ports that, in conjunction with an AMG-first trick-new dual length variable intake manifold – provides highly efficient cylinder charging.

High engine speeds are possible due to the stiff valve train achieved through the use of bucket tappets operating all 32 valves in the cylinder-heads, while variable camshaft adjustment, extra-rigid closed-deck crankcase and a regular production engine-first high-tech, super-low friction cylinder wall coating (known as LDS, for ‘twin wire arc sprayed’) are further innovations.

A single AMG engineer assembles this V8 from start to finish, as shown by the sole signature on the engine plate.

The sole gearbox on offer is an upgraded version of the Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission.

It features three shift modes – ‘S’ (Sport), ‘C’ (Comfort) and ‘M’ (Manual) – each with a different shift characteristics and shift speeds – in ‘S’ they’re 30 per cent faster than in ‘C’ while ‘M’ sees a 50 per cent shift-speed increase.

‘M’ has no automatic downshift or upshift, remaining instead in the selected gear.

Aiding the driver are aluminium paddle shifts located on the steering wheel.

Every AMG 63 model also features revised suspension components and high-performance brakes with internally ventilated and perforated discs.

Mercedes says that AMG is now responsible for all chassis, engine, powertrain, suspension, brakes, electronics, aerodynamics, interior and design elements, as well as complete marketing and sales-related autonomy.

Previously, AMG cars were mainly enhanced versions of production Mercedes models.

AMG 63 models at a glance
ML 63 AMG
Mercedes says its second-generation American-made, SUV delivers sports-car performance, hitting 100km/h from standstill in five seconds, on the way to an electronically controlled (like in all AMG 63 models) 250km/h speed limit.

On a more sober note, the average combined fuel consumption is 16.5 litres per 100km.

The ML63 AMG is 46 per cent more powerful and 23 per cent torquier than the old (W163) ML55 from 2001 to 2004, of which 272 examples were sold in Australia.

In AMG guise, the fastest ML has a redesigned cooling system boasting a patented technology for more efficient heat dissipation.

The permanent all-wheel drive system has also altered, to a 40:60 front/rear set-up, instead of the regular W164 ML’s 50:50 arrangement.

AMG has fettled with the ML’s air suspension too, fitting its own spring struts and a retuned version of Mercedes’ ADS Adaptive Damping System.

It works in concert with 19-inch AMG light-alloy wheels shod with 295/45 R19 tyres.

Bespoke front and rear aprons, a painted grille, flared wheel arches, stainless-steel running boards, tinted tail-lights, and two sets of chromed twin tailpipes set the AMG apart from its more pedestrian brethren.

As with all the AMG 63 models, inside the ML lurks new sports seats, an AMG steering wheel with gearshift buttons, revised instrumentation, fancier trim and a Porsche-like ‘Racetimer’ lap timer and trip computer.

CLK63 AMG
With 31 per cent more power and 23 per cent more torque than the outgoing ‘55’, the CLK63 AMG Coupe hits 100km/h from zero in 4.6 seconds (0.1 seconds ahead of the Cabriolet CLK 55: 5.2 and 5.4 seconds respectively).

So it probably needs its upgraded composite braking system, firmer sports suspension, 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheel package and 225/40-front and 255/35-rear rubber.

An ESP-off program has been added to the stability control system, which raises the intervention threshold to an extremely high, super-skilled racetrack level, but with a failsafe fitted the instance the brakes are tapped.

A similar body kit and cabin re-trim application to the ML63 AMG is incorporated inside the CLK63 AMG.

E 63 AMG
Billed as the most powerful E-class ever, the E63 AMG shoots to 100km/h from standstill in 4.5 seconds for the sedan and 4.6 seconds for the wagon.

The regular E’s Airmatic semi-active air suspension with Adaptive Damping System ADS II has been revised by AMG.

Like the CLK, this E variant also has an ESP-off function, along with the AMG body and interior addenda.

The 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels wear 245/40 and 265/35 tyres on the front and rear respectively.

CLS 63 AMG
Like the E-class that spawned it, the CLS63 AMG also races to 100km/h from stationary in 4.5 seconds, and doubles that velocity just 10.6 seconds later.

It also shadows its more conventionally designed brother in the fuel consumption stakes, recording a 14.5L/100km result.

But while the CLS63 AMG boasts the same sized wheels as the E, 255/40 tyres at the front end and 285/35s at the back surround them.

The ESP-off technology is also present, along with the regular AMG body and cabin styling.

2006 Mercedes-Benz AMG range pricing:
ML63 AMG $159,900
CLK63 AMG Coupe $199,100
CLK63 AMG Cabriolet $213,100
E63 AMG sedan $227,600
E63 AMG Estate $233,600
CLS63 AMG $252,300

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