Mercedes-AMG’s new turbo V8 proves downsizing doesn’t have to be a bad thing

It uses an electric motor to eliminate lag
by Rowan Horncastle | Jun 18, 2020
PHOTO: Mercedes-Benz
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You may have noticed there’s been a trend of downsizing—or the mass adoption of replacing big, naturally aspirated engines with smaller turbocharged ones—over the last few years. It was a forced hand by the rule makers to reduce fuel consumption and, in turn, CO2 emissions. People booed and hissed at this move, but one company that has shown that downsizing doesn’t need to be the devil’s work is Mercedes-AMG.

Its history was built on naturally aspirated V8 excellence, but in recent years, AMG has proven that you can downsize, add turbos, increase efficiency, and still deliver an apocalyptic soundtrack and blistering speed. One side effect of all this turbocharging though, is lag. Which is bad. Well, was bad. Mercedes-AMG is out to make it a thing of the past thanks to this new, trick electric turbocharger.

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Mercedes will now use an electric motor to keep the turbo spinning, even at low revs when the exhaust gases are low, to increase response and further reduce emissions. The 4cm electric motor—powered by the on-board 48V mild hybrid system—is integrated directly into the charger shaft (between the turbine wheel on the exhaust side and the compressor wheel on the fresh air side). It whirs into life when the exhaust gases reduce to keep the turbo spinning at 170,000 rpm, even when off throttle or on the brakes.

This means that when you pick the throttle back up again, you have maximum performance from the turbo, and zero lag. So think of it as an electronic anti-lag system.

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AMG states this F1-derived technology “will be used for the first time in a series-production model from Affalterbach.” Could it be on the upcoming AMG GT Black Series? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Mercedes-Benz
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