AMG gave us a first look at its upcoming $3-million (U.S.) Project One hypercar, which will extract more than 1,000 horsepower from an engine smaller than you’d find in a Toyota Corolla.
In doing so, AMG shows a way forward for gasoline engines in high-performance cars.
How exactly has Mercedes-AMG managed to create a 1.6-litre V-6 that produces so much power? It copied the powertrain of Mercedes’ championship-winning Formula One cars.
“We are the first to make pure-bred F1 technology road-worthy,” AMG boss Tobias Moers said in a speech ahead of the Nurburgring 24-Hour race in Germany. The car will be street legal in most countries, excluding China.
The company synonymous with big, earth-shaking, fuel-hungry V-8 motors still thinks the future is in battery-electric hybrids and electric turbochargers.
“It will be a question of both efficiency and performance,” Moers said.
The V-6 is complimented by four electric motors. A single turbocharger is split in half with a huge compressor in front of the engine and a turbine at the rear, connected by a shaft that runs through the middle of the engine’s V.
The shaft is powered by an 80 kw (107 hp) electric motor that can spool up the compressor to eliminate any turbo lag and improve throttle response. The same motor can also be used to generate electric energy when, for example, the car is slowing down and the turbine’s energy would otherwise be wasted.
“It’s more responsive than any V-8 naturally aspirated engine that we had in Formula One,” said Philipp Eckert, an engineer on project.
In addition, there are three 120 kW (161 hp) electric motors: one connected directly to the crankshaft and one powering each front wheel independently. They’re powered by the same batteries used on the F1 car, only here there are four times as many cells.
Using electric power alone, the hypercar will be able to drive silently with a range of roughly 25 kilometres.
The V-6 – built in Brixworth, England, by the same people who build Mercedes’ F1 motors – will last longer than your typical racing engine, but Eckert said owners will have to take their cars in for major engine and transmission maintenance every 50,000 km. Unlike an F1 car, you won’t need a team of people to start the car and you won’t need to wait for 20 minutes while the engine warms up before you drive off; it’ll just start and go.
The technology at work here is ingenious, resulting in an engine that has 43-per-cent thermal efficiency. In other words, it does more with the gasoline it burns.
AMG isn’t alone in turning to hybrid power to supplement gasoline in their high-performance cars. Both Ferrari and Lamborghini have indicated they are pursuing similar strategies.
The Project One will be fully revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September with the first of 275 examples in customer hands in 2019.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.