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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Mercedes-AMG ‘swapping’ C63’s four-cylinder for V8 in CLE 63

Displacement confusion and not new C63's poor uptake has been cited as the reason for AMG's decision to keep the V8 incoming flagship CLE.

While seemingly set to prevail in the C63, Mercedes-AMG has reportedly decided against fitting the incoming AMG CLE 63 with the controversial four-cylinder plug-in hybrid 2.0-litre M139 engine.

Currently in the final stages of development, the spiritual replacement for the previous generation C63 Coupe will retain the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 engine instead of reverting to the 2.0-litre as a step-up from the mild-hybrid 3.0-litre straight-six used in the CLE 53.

Eight or nothing

Set to produce around 436 kW, the supposed decision to opt for the V8 instead of the 2.0-litre has been attributed to dealers wanting to avoid confusion in explaining why the flagship variant has a much smaller displacement and four-cylinders than the step-down 53’s six-cylinder.

In making the announcement, Britain’s Autocar reports that the U-turn has nothing to do with the poorer than expected uptake of the C63, which has struggled to garner sales since debuting with the plug-in hybrid powertrain last year.

ALSO READ: Mercedes-AMG C63 V8 return blasted as German sales tumble

A situation not only felt in Europe, but also North America where overall sales of the C-Class have dropped three percent compared to last year, according to motor1.com, the CLE 63 will feature electrification in the form of mild-hybrid assistance, which is expected to add around 17 kW to the V8’s output for short burst.

Admitting that buyers “didn’t understand” the downsized 2.0-litre unit in the C63 at the Auto China Expo in Beijing earlier this month, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development Head, Markus Schäfer, countered by saying that the logic made sense after careful explaining.

Mercedes-AMG set to keep V8 in favour of C63's four-cylinder PHEV in CLE 63
Confusion in trying to explain why the depicted CLE 53 has a bigger displacement than the flagship CLE 63 has been cited as the main reason for not going with the plug-in hybrid four-cylinder. Image: Mercedes-AMG

“We explained the concept, the rationale and where it came from, especially with reference to F1, and they started to understand what the idea behind it was,” Autocar quoted him as saying.

He also stated that Benz had made a calculated decision when it come the selecting what engine, saying, “we decided for the C-Class to go with the four-cylinder and a strong electrical side.

“We decided for the GT and the S-Class to go with the eight [cylinder] with the same electric side. We have to see what the customer ultimately decides”.

V8 want but not coming…

Last year, Car and Driver reported that plans had been set into motion to relaunch the C63 with the mild-hybrid V8 in 2026 to revive lagging sales against the ongoing backlash against the 2.0-litre.

Mercedes-AMG set to keep V8 in favour of C63's four-cylinder PHEV in CLE 63
Despite producing 125kW/270Nm more than the previous generation C63, sales of the plug-in hybrid new C63 have been poorer than expected. Image: Mercedes-AMG

Days later though, an unnamed Mercedes-Benz employee called the claims “pure nonsense” when asked directly about its eschewing by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

Its price compared to the V8 C63 and weight of more than two tonnes being cited as further reasons for the slowdown in sales, the four-cylinder C63’s return to eight-cylinders could, however, still happen based not only on the CLE 63, but customer demand the three-pointed star says it is monitoring closely.

…or could it?

This according to Schäfer, who told Autocar that it is “up to customers to decide” whether the plug-in hybrid remains or not.

As it stands, the C63 looks set to continue with the 500kW/1 020Nm electrified four-cylinder unit, though speculation has also started that this could change once the CLE 63’s debut occurs.

NOW READ: Mercedes-AMG ‘plotting’ return of V8 in C63 as early as 2026

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