Super coupes assemble!

Mercedes-AMG and Alfa Romeo prepare to take power to the next level

ANDY ENRIGHT

THE SPORTS coupe has evolved. Alfa Romeo is working on a 447kW two-door version of the Giulia while Mercedes-AMG is looking to create an athlete in the shape of its nextgeneration 400kW C63 coupe. Both will feature fashionably downsized turbocharged powerplants and both will deliver tantalising diversions from the performance template for each marque.

The coupe version of the Giulia was long-rumoured as a logical model extension on the Giorgio platform, but outgoing FCA boss Sergio Marchionne amped up expectation at the group’s Capital Markets Day, where the plans for the next five years are unveiled.

The coupe will revive the classic GTV nameplate, a badge last seen on the underwhelming 916-series front-drive cars that last rolled off Pininfarina’s Giorgio Canavese line back in 2004.

This one is very different. Although the front tyres are tasked with transferring torque, they’ll be minority players, stepping in to help the rears deploy a power figure that is set to be at least 600 horsepower, or 447kW if you prefer. That figure deserves a little contextualising. It’s more than a Ferrari 458 Speciale, shades a current Porsche 911 Turbo S and means more muscle than a Nissan GT-R Nismo. The latter is instructive as the AWD Nissan will accelerate to 100km/h in 2.7 seconds, despite weighing 1739kg. Should the GTV hit a target weight of around 1685kg, its step-off will be utterly concussive.

Performance will be aided by the fitment of an E-Boost system, which FCA claims will increase power by 25 percent and, in the process, virtually eliminate turbo lag. That uptick in power would see the output of the 2.9-litre V6 (currently making 375kW in Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Q) lifted above the 447kW target. The AWD system will be a version of the Maserati Levante-derived hardware seen in the Stelvio Q complete with torque-vectoring rear differential. In addition to the halo Quadrifoglio model, there’s also likely to be a 260kW E-Boosted version of the current 208kW 2.0-litre turbo four.

Alfa promises a perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution and functional rear seats in a model that will be a key player in FCA’s plans to steadily elevate Alfa Romeo’s brand equity.

One thing the GTV can’t count on is an unopposed run at things in the premium two-door market. Mercedes-AMG is planning to take a divergent tack from the usual C-Class coupe script with its next generation model. Whereas AMG products have often sought to differentiate themselves by being the most powerful cars in their respective classes, the 2021 model-year C63 will now focus on dynamics and athleticism.

Power is set to be capped at no more than 400kW already up 25kW on the figure that AMG boss

Volvo’s Pole volt

Volvo has applied the Polestar treatment to its 60 Series T8 petrol-electric hybrid models. The Polestar Engineered’ package upgrades wheels, Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension and the engine control unit. The new-gen S60 is set to be the first recipient, with V60 and XC60 versions getting the go-faster treatments next year. Grunt takes a hike from 298kW/640Nm to 309kW/670Nm. Those figures are for US versions as Australia still awaits final confirmation, but given our predilection for hi-po halo models, it would seem a shoo-in.

HOW FAST?

PERFORMANCE COUPE MILESTONES

BMW E30 M3 (1985) 143kW/0-100km/h: 6.5sec

NISSAN SKYLINE GT-R R32 (1989) 206kW/0-100km/h: 5.4sec

BMW M3 EVO (1995) 236kW/0-100km/h: 5.2sec

MERCEDES CLK 63 AMG (2006) 354kW/0-100km/h: 4.6sec

Tobias Moers once cited as being the limit for manageable traction in such rear-drive cars. He had set about readying the market at this year’s New York auto show when he said that the all-new C63 “will be a hybrid – that’s now a given.” What we weren’t prepared for was how intricate the new car’s hybrid system would be.

Responsibility for the development of the hybrid tech has gone to Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, the engineering team responsible for the oily bits that sit behind Lewis Hamilton’s noggin, as well as the Force India and Williams units. F1 fans will also be familiar with the name Ilmor, which was ultimately taken over by Daimler-Chrysler in 2005, the Brixworth-based outfit also charged with developing the driveline for the AMG Project One hypercar, itself a car that has grown in importance within Daimler’s porfolio due to updated endurance racing regulations that will allow for such cars to appear at races like Le Mans from 2020.

With the larger E63 being positioned as the ball-tearing hotrod in the AMG sedan portfolio, the C63 needs to work smarter as well as harder. The 6.2-litre M156 V8 engine that debuted in 2008 gave way to a 4.0-litre twin-turbo M177 engine in 2015; now the flagship C-Class looks set to go smaller still in its next iteration with our Mercedes source suggesting that it may shrink to a six-pot, albeit augmented with hybrid tech, a kinetic energy recovery system and turbocharging. That makes a development of the M256 in-line 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit, as fitted to the current Mercedes-AMG CLS53, the most likely candidate for teasing out the additonal required 80kW of grunt.

The styling follows the CLS’s lead, with similar lights and the extension of Mercedes’ current design direction of eliminating unnecessary swage lines from the car’s flanks. A Panamericana grille and a similarly pugnacious flaredguard stance to the current C63 can be taken as read.

With BMW also planning to introduce its next-gen G82 M4 in 2021, powered by a 375kW straight six with e-chargers and water injection, the Mercedes-AMG C63 will have a very tangible rival that will threaten its sales dominance in Australia. Nissan has hinted that its next-gen GT-R is also likely to appear in 2021. This looks set to feature an electrified six-cylinder engine and offer nearhypercar performance.

Where the ballistic Alfa will slot into the market is another issue altogether. By increasing power enormously and running the GTV Quadrifoglio on an AWD chassis, it’s likely that Alfa’s flagship coupe will be nearer C63 than M4 pricing.

Whatever your preference, it’s reassuring that this coming generation of e-boosted six-pot supercoupes looks set to crank up a new, even fiercer rivalry.

E-Boost would see the output of the 2.9-litre V6 (currently making 375kW in Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Q) lifted above the 447kW target

Porsche’s retro Speedster concept

What’ a better way of celebrating your 70th birthday than stumping up your own surprise to burst from the cake? Porsche has done just that, revealing a 356-inspired, 911.2 GT3-based 368kW version of the 911 that tugs at the heartstrings of Porsche fans the world over. The white-on-silver colour scheme, buttresses, cut-down windscreen, bonnetmounted fuel filler, and bullet wing mirrors all riff on Zuffenhausen’ heritage. There’ no word yet on a production run, though.

If the GTV isn’t enough to get you juiced, Alfa boss Tim Kuniskis announced plans to resurrect the Alfa Romeo 8C badge, last seen in 2010 on the gorgeous, LHD-only 8C Competizione, a riot of carbonfibre panels draped over a steel chassis. This time round, the sleek 8C will be built around a proper carbonfibre monocoque. A mid-mounted twin-turbo engine will send power to the rear axle, while electric power delivers torque to the front wheels. A system output of over 522kW will result in a sub-three-second sprint to 100km/h.

ANDY ENRIGHT