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Merc-AMG boss: "I’ll save the V12 and rear-wheel drive"
Tobias Moers declares war on tyres, but says there’ll be no lightweight A45 Black Series. Plus: watch out, Tesla…
Tobias Moers is the chairman of AMG, which makes him a very good chap in Top Gear’s book. Having had our internal organs pummeled by the new, faster AMG A45, TG sat down with Merc’s kingpin of performance to find out what’s next for Germany’s new-school muscle cars…
TG: The new A45’s got 376bhp. Is that the limit for a four-cylinder engine right now?
Tobias Moers: With this generation of engine, that’s it. We’re now in the second half of the A45’s life cycle. In this generation of A45, CLA or GLA, this is the limit.”
TG: What’s the limiting factor?
TM: It’s getting pretty hard to squeeze any more power out of two litres! We’re up there with superbikes, getting 191hp per litre…
TG: But you seem pretty relaxed about staying ahead of Audi, VW and Honda…
TM: Oh, yes. We’re working on the next-generation four-cylinder for the future small car family. I’m very relaxed. [Moers grins, but won’t let on how much power that engine’s kicking out.]
We’re up there with superbikes, getting 191hp per litre
TG: What about a lighter A-Class? Say, a stripped-out Black Series?
TM: The A45 goes under eight minutes at the Nordschliefe, and has managed a ten-second improvement [with the new version]. We’re happy with that. Is there a market for a lightweight A45? No, I don’t think so. We’re not having a discussion about an A45 Black Series or any kind of street-racer in AMG.
TG: What’s the future for your engines?
TM: The S63 AMG Cabriolet that you’ll see in Frankfurt is more or less the last new car we will make with the 5.5-litre V8 engine. The new 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo will be around for a long time, but we’ll keep the ‘63’ badging.
Sure, the 4.0-litre V8 will go in the new E63, and it can match the current standard in the [supersaloon] class. [That’ll be the 600bhp BMW M5 30 Jahre, then].
TG: And what about your V12? Can it survive the eco tests?
TM: We have V12 aficionados worldwide, so it’s up to us to give that engine a future. But maybe it will have to take on a different concept, so we’ll discuss how to proceed with that in the future.
Hybrids? Perhaps, but battery technology is the limiting factor – everyone is always talking about the next generation of batteries, in ten or twenty years’ time…
It’s up to us to give the V12 a future
TM: Yes, and we’re developing a new 4Matic AMG system. Those cars lend themselves well to all-wheel drive. But firstly, there’ll be AMG Sport versions. [Like the GLE 450 and C450 ‘halfway house’ models.]
TG: What about matching Tesla?
TM: [laughs] That’s a bit of a story! We did make the SLS Electric Drive, which is still the fastest EV around the Norschliefe. Nobody beat it in three years – not even Tesla…
TM: But where’s the tech transfer from SLS Electric Drive to, say, an E63 Electric Drive?
TM: [laughs again] No, but I’ll take that idea home with me! That’s a good proposal. We got a lot of experience with the SLS project, so it’d be stupid to throw what we learned away.
But the SLS was a state of the art, ‘what is possible’ car, with four motors, torque vectoring, blah blah blah. It was unbelievably expensive, and not supposed to be for the mass market.
We’re looking what we can use – and adding new ideas – for what we can do with electricity in the future. There is a development programme happening within AMG. I believe more in electrification that I do in performance diesels.
The SLS Electric Drive was unbelievably expensive…
TG: Will AMG go completely all-wheel drive, one day?
Both the new C63 and AMG GT have much better traction than the old C63 or SLS, but they’re still fun to drive. This is the most important thing. It’s all about the emotion.
TG: Finally, what do you drive?
TM: I have an AMG GT S as my everyday car. It’s matt grey, and has the aero kit. And I have a GLE 63 AMG Coupe…