2017 Geneva Motor Show: 600kW GT Concept points to AMG hybrid future

MERCEDES-AMG has flagged its intention to build a 600kW, Panamera-bashing V8 hybrid super sedan with the unveiling of the GT Concept at the 2017 Geneva motor show.

The svelte four-door uses AMG’s familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and mates it to a lightweight battery pack and 150kW electric motor that uses the same “operating strategy” as Mercedes-Benz’s championship dominating Formula One cars.

Sitting on a modified version of the W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class architecture, power is sent to all four wheels via the V8 engine, with the electric motor given a direct drive link only to the rear axle.

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t outlined details of the hybrid drivetrain, however Wheels has learned it uses the 450kW version of the V8 initially developed for the soon-to-arrive Mercedes-AMG E63 S.

Marketed as EQ Power+, the innovative hybrid drivetrain strategy is likely to filter its way through future AMG models as a way to boost performance while maintaining a 500km-plus driving range and throaty sound, the latter a core component of AMG’s go-fast image.

In the GT Concept the hybrid system is claimed to deliver 600kW of power, enough to propel the sleek four-door to 100km/h in “less than three seconds”.

While Porsche’s Panamera is an obvious target for the four-door version of the GT, it’s also likely to line up neatly against the all-electric Tesla Model S, which has stolen the green performance high ground with its ballistic acceleration and all-paw performance.

The GT Concept can run purely on electricity for shorter trips – there are no details on the electric range, but best guesses suggest about 50km – or as a hybrid, relying on both methods of drive for the full 600kW hit.

In a twist on the traditional hybrid setup engineers have created a driver-selectable mode that temporarily cuts out the electric motor, relying solely on the V8, presumably for those wanting the full drama of the engine.

Despite being referred to as a coupe by its makers, like the Porsche Panamera the GT Concept gets a hatchback-like liftgate for added practicality and a distinctive look.

Its grille picks up the toothy Panamericana grille used on some two-door GTs, but it’s flanked by more air intakes to cool the batteries and feed that potent V8.

There are also numerous hints of the AMG GT two-door, from the slimline tail lights to the powerful wheel arches.

While it’s officially a concept, the media statement that accompanied the GT Concept hinted it was very close to the production car likely to lob in 2018.

“The show car gives a sneak preview of the exterior design of the coming series production model,” the statement read.

While an easy option for Mercedes would have been to stuff the new super hybrid drivetrain into an existing Merc, Daimler design chief Gorden Wagener said the GT Concept is about cementing AMG as a maker of bespoke models rather than just a modifier of Mercedes-Benzes.

“The GT Concept embodies the most extreme expression of our design idiom and underlines anew the autonomous profile of AMG as a performance brand”, said Wagener. “Through perfect proportions it creates a puristic design with the emphasis on its surfaces, featuring sensuous shapes and is hot and cool at the same time.”

Proving it’s about practicality and liveability as much as performance and excitement, occupants can choose from a trade-off between rear seat legroom and boot space, with the seats able to slide back and forward.

The GT Concept also debuts a new “nano active fibre technology” for its lights, allowing for a 3D effect and increased integration of lighting functions into a single unit.

Traditional wing mirrors have been replaced with small “mirror cams” just behind the front wheels. They are claimed to bring aerodynamic benefits, though they won’t initially make it to the production car.

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