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Why the next Mercedes-Benz C-Class is coming exclusively with 4-cylinder engines, including AMGs

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2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class at present offers 4-, 6- and even 8-cylinder engines but this won’t be the case for the next-generation model due for a reveal on February 23 and on sale later this year as a 2022 model.

As first reported by Car and Driver last week, the next C-Class will come exclusively with 4-cylinder engines. This will also extend to the future performance variants from Mercedes-Benz AMG.

Why such a radical decision? Speaking with Germany’s Automobilwoche (subscription required) in an interview published last week, the car’s chief engineer, Christian Frueh, said a V-8 was ruled out primarily for emissions while an inline-6 was ruled out for packaging. It seems that adding an inline-6 would have required the front end of the vehicle to be stretched by about two inches. Bigger, heavier engines would have also added too much load on the front axle, negatively impacting the driving dynamics.

To make up for the performance deficit caused by downsizing, Mercedes, as well as the AMG performance skunkworks, will rely on electrification. In most cases the electrification should come in the form of a mild-hybrid system. It should be somewhat similar to what we’ve seen in some existing Mercedes mild-hybrids—essentially an electric motor-generator that replaces the starter motor and alternator typically found on internal-combustion cars. The setup is designed to provide a boost during high loads and recover energy during braking and coasting.

In the next C63, the setup is expected to match the 503 hp of the current C63 S while peak torque could even exceed the current car’s 516 lb-ft.

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Plug-in hybrid powertrains are also planned, though likely for non-AMG models only.

We’ve also heard that the rear-axle steering system that debuted in the redesigned 2021 S-Class will be available on the next C-Class. The system helps with maneuverability at low speeds and stability at high speeds.

The C-Class family in the U.S. is expected to start with a C300, followed by two AMG versions (a C43 replacement and C63) and possibly a plug-in hybrid. No wagon body style is planned for our market, but redesigned versions of the current C-Class Coupe and C-Class Cabriolet should arrive eventually.

In his interview with Automobilwoche, Frueh also confirmed that a C-Class All-Terrain soft-roader wagon is coming, and this model could potentially end up here as a little brother to the E-Class All-Terrain.

He also said not to expect a battery-electric C-Class, at least with the coming generation of the small sedan. That’s because the engineers wouldn’t have been able to fit the necessary batteries without compromising the rear axle’s design and balance of the car.

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First Aston Martin F1 car in 60 years revealed

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2021 Aston Martin AMR21 Formula One race car

Aston Martin is returning to the Formula One grid in 2021 for the first time in over 60 years via a rebranding of the Racing Point team.

Aston Martin’s team, officially known as Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team thanks to a sponsorship deal with IT services provider Cognizant, on Wednesday unveiled its new race car. Alfa Romeo, Alpine, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz AMG have also shown their new cars.

Called the AMR21, Aston Martin’s car is an evolution of Racing Point’s RP20 from the previous season, and naturally it’s been decked out in green. There are also some pink accents to highlight the sponsorship of water technologies company BWT.

2021 Aston Martin AMR21 Formula One race car

Powering the AMR21 is a power unit sourced from Mercedes-Benz AMG, reflecting a strategy Aston Martin is also using for some of its road cars. The powertrain in the AMR21 consists of a 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 working with two motor-generators, one integrated with the turbocharger and the other with the engine in the main driveline.

Confirmed drivers are four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll. Stroll’s father Lawrence Stroll is both chairman of Aston Martin and the Aston Martin F1 team. Otmar Szafnauer has been named CEO and team principal of the team.

The AMR21 will stretch its legs for the first time at a promotional event to be held Thursday at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom, where Aston Martin’s F1 team is located. The team is using Racing Point’s former digs but will move into a new 200,000-square-foot facility under under construction at the same site around mid-2022.

Lance Stroll (left) and Sebastian Vettel

Lance Stroll (left) and Sebastian Vettel

The pre-season tests are scheduled for Mar. 12-14 in Bahrain ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Mar. 28. The season was meant to start as always with the Australian Grand Prix but due to Covid-19 restrictions the Australian race has been delayed until November.

Aston Martin’s first and only stint in F1 started in 1959 and ended the following year. The team competed with the DBR4 race car (and later the DBR5) and listed Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori as drivers. The team would have just five starts over the two years of competition and ultimately pulled out to focus on sports car racing, having failed to score any points.

Speaking of sports car racing, Aston Martin last December announced its exit from the World Endurance Championship, where it had competed in the GTE class with a race car based on its Vantage sports car. It means the automaker is no longer competing in sports car racing, though it will still build Vantage-based race cars for customer teams.

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Mercedes-Benz AMG introduces E Performance branding for electrified vehicles

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Mercedes-Benz AMG One with E Performance branding

Mercedes-Benz AMG’s 2021 Formula One race car was unveiled on Tuesday as the W12 E Performance.

The “E Performance” portion of the name signifies the car as an electrified race car, and it is also destined to be the new designation for electrified road cars from AMG. It replaces the “EQ Power+” designation that AMG previously said would feature on its future electrified fleet.

The significance of using E Performance on both the F1 race cars and future road cars is to strengthen the link between the two divisions of AMG, as well as highlight some of their shared technology. This is directly represented by the upcoming One hypercar which will feature the same 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 from the F1 racer, specifically the unit used in the 2015 season.

Mercedes-Benz AMG One with E Performance branding

Other technologies borrowed from F1 that we’ll see in upcoming AMG road cars will include turbocharger-integrated motor-generators, as well as high-performance battery cell and cooling technologies. AMG said teams developing road cars will also benefit from F1 know-how when it comes to using simulation technology.

The One is due to start deliveries later this year but it won’t be the only new E Performance offering from AMG that we’ll see this year. Another is a new range-topping version of the GT 4-Door Coupe that is expected to pack over 800 hp. The One hypercar will have over 1,000 hp.

While E Performance is only being used on hybrid vehicles for now, it may eventually be used for fully electric cars as well. AMG has confirmed it is developing new electric cars, the first of which could be a version of the upcoming EQS.

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Infiniti’s 500-hp Q60 Project Black S is dead

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Infiniti Q60 Project Black S prototype

Infiniti’s wild Q60 Project Black S originally unveiled as a concept at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show looks to be dead.

A prototype of the coupe which was to feature Formula One technology was shown in 2018 and as recently as 2019 we learned that Infiniti executives were still mulling whether to give the production green light.

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S prototype

Well, they decided against it, Infiniti spokesman Kyle Bazemore told Automotive News (subscription required) in an interview published Tuesday.

The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise as Infiniti last December finally ended its involvement in F1 after 10 years. First Infiniti was a title sponsor of Red Bull Racing, and then it was a sponsor of Renault—a deal that included a somewhat dubious hybrid technology tie-up where Infiniti engineers helped develop the energy recovery systems for Renault’s F1 cars.

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S prototype

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S prototype

In addition, the Q60 Project Black S was the brainchild of former Infiniti chief Roland Krueger, who wanted a halo vehicle to add some excitement to the lineup. However, he left the company in early 2019 and then the project largely went under the radar.

The same thing pretty much happened with Infiniti’s previous attempt to launch a halo vehicle. In 2014, the automaker unveiled the Q50 Eau Rouge, a Nissan GT-R-powered sedan championed by Krueger’s predecessor, Johan de Nysschen. Plans for the Q50 Eau Rouge were also pretty much quashed after de Nysschen quit to join Cadillac.

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept, 2014 Detroit Auto Show

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept, 2014 Detroit Auto Show

The Q60 Project Black S was developed in partnership with the Renault F1 team. Peak power of around 500 hp came from Infiniti’s 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 augmented by a sophisticated hybrid system. The hybrid system is similar to the setup used in F1, where there are motor-generators integrated with the turbochargers, plus a motor-generator integrated with the driveline. Mercedes-Benz AMG’s One hypercar will feature a similar system.

At the time of the Q60 Project Black S’s reveal, Infiniti said one of the reasons for building the car was to gauge interest in a new performance division to be called Black S and utilizing F1-derived technology.

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