No, there isn't a V8 under the hood, but a quick test-track blast proves that this radical reinvention is still 100% C63.

The second the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance made its debut as a four-cylinder plug-in hybrid, old men started yelling at clouds. The pissing and moaning over the C63’s new powertrain didn’t come as a surprise, given how its big-engine-in-a-small-car blueprint was a bread-and-butter component of AMG’s lineup over the last 14 years. I had some trepidation, too, but after a quick stint riding shotgun in a development prototype, I think this path to electrification is worth embracing.

To help soften the blow of the V8’s demise, Mercedes-AMG shoved an absolute ton of power into the new C63. The 2.0-liter I4 under the hood produces 476 horsepower and 402 pound-feet of torque on its own, making it the most powerful I4 you can buy, and it’s not much less than the last C63 made with double the displacement. But once you include the electric motor mounted at the rear axle, net output jumps to a prodigious 680 hp and 752 lb.-ft. And thanks to a whole host of complicated mechanicals, both methods of propulsion can provide motive force to both axles. It’s some wild stuff.

I am sitting shotgun next to Jochen Hermann, Mercedes-AMG’s chief technical officer, who also helmed AMG’s vehicle development from 2014 to 2016. It’s a weird feeling when he starts the C63 and… nothing happens. We shove off from our staging area in near silence, a slight whirr coming from the electric motor as it starts draining electrons from its 6.1-kilowatt-hour battery. That may not seem like a lot of juice, and it really isn’t, but it’s enough to get us pointed toward Mercedes-Benz’s test track in Immendingen, Germany, just a couple miles away.

Besides, this battery has a secret. A good deal of the C63’s battery development came from the efforts of Mercedes’ in-house Formula 1 team, which engineered the electric side with lightning-fast delivery and recuperation in mind. Hermann took the C63 up to speed a few times, showing me the four levels of regeneration on offer. In its strongest setting, it’ll handle up to 100 kW of regeneration, a properly nutty number that should keep the battery topped off during on-track driving.

You won’t ever get to see the electrical components, but the I4 under the hood is eye candy enough. Mercedes-Benz

As we move from long stretches of simulated urban pavement to a proper test track, the electric half of the C63’s powertrain really starts getting to work. Every straightaway is met with impressive and immediate thrust as the battery discharges as quickly as it can, accelerating better than any C63 I’ve driven before, while the four-cylinder howls its way up the tachometer. When it’s time to shed some speed, I pay extra attention to the gauge cluster, which shows the battery taking in its maximum allowable charge — part of the built-in Race mode that ensures a driver always has at least some electricity at the ready. Whether it’s the standard composite brakes or the motor doing the work, this car stops, and fast.

Of course, one axis is hardly enough by which to measure a performance car. Previous iterations of the C63 had mega handling chops, and the new one is no exception. The standard adaptive suspension does an excellent job keeping pitch and roll under control. Pure EVs put their battery under the floor, but as this is a plug-in hybrid, the C63’s battery lives just above the rear axle. Nevertheless, with a nearly optimal weight balance front to rear, the C63 feels right at home slamming through corners and blasting toward the next apex. Excellent traction and stability control systems keep the vehicle in check, but it still squirms around like it wants to break the tires loose at every possible opportunity. It’s fun, it’s lively, and it’s very much a C63.

Europe will be privy to a wagon variant of the C63, which is a bummer for all the Stateside longroof aficionados out there. Mercedes-Benz

There isn’t really much to talk about in the style department, since it’s 100% traditional AMG fare here. The C63’s body is brawny and aggro, and the interior is standard C-Class, albeit tarted up with carbon-fiber accents and a delightful new set of sport front seats that provide all the bolstering I need on the test track. I take in a bit of the fit and finish as we noodle back toward the staging area, again in complete silence — and with nearly the same amount of charge as when we arrived, to boot.

Look, I understand why someone may want to whinge over the C63’s missing cylinders. The 6.2-liter M156 V8 might be my favorite gas engine of all time, and the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that replaced it was quite the peach, as well. But the inexorable march of time eventually claims us all, and as the industry moves toward electrification, we’re getting some amazing final hurrahs from automakers who have long relied on the extremes of internal-combustion engineering. The 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance is one of those cars, showcasing cutting-edge powertrain tech while ensuring that the future of AMG is every bit as exciting and true to itself as it’s been in years past.

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