Renowned for turning Mercedes cars into tyre-shreading machines, AMG became one of the world’s most iconic engine builders. Here are our favourites.
From supercharged torque and high-displacement N/A muscle to turbocharged power, AMG has experimented with many styles as times have progressed. As the generation of high-displacement, high-cylinder-count AMG engines could be coming to an end, lets take a look at AMG’s five best engines.
05. Mercedes-AMG M177/M178 V8 Biturbo
To start things off in fifth place, the current and popular 4.0L V8 Biturbo, built by AMG. Replacing the short-lived 5.5L V8 Biturbo, the new 4.0L has been fitted to all current 63 badged cars, and a modified variant for the AMG GT two-door range. The ‘M177’ and ‘M178’ engines produce up to 470kW (630hp) and 430kW (576hp) respectively.
The M177 engine remains mostly unchanged across the range, however a different turbocharger setup is utilised on the larger cars. Smaller cars such as the C63 and GLC63 recieve the standard twin turbocharged setup, whilst the larger E63 and S63 feature two twin-scroll turbochargers in an effort to reduce turbo lag, which also brings about a cylinder deactivation feature to reduce fuel usage. The most powerful iteration of the M177 engine is found in the GT63S 4MATIC+ 4 Door Coupe where it pumps out an incredible 900Nm of torque, rocketing the 2-tonne giant from 0-100km/h in just 3.2 seconds.
A de-tuned version of this twin-scroll twin-turbo engine is also currently being used in the Aston Martin DB11 V8 and V8 Vantage, where it produces up to 375kW (503 hp) of power and 675Nm of torque.
04. AMG M275/M158 V12 Biturbo
Coming in fourth place, the AMG variant of Mercedes’ 368kW (493 hp) twin-turbocharged V12. With the ‘base’ form found in the popular S600, AMG got their hands on the blueprints and created their version to fit in large luxury Mercedes cars.
Displacement increased from 5.5L to 6.0L, and the AMG revised V12 was given the name ‘M275 AMG’. The first iteration of these engines were fitted to the S65, SL65, CL65, the rarer G65 and even some old Maybach S models. Power sat at a whopping 450kW (603 hp), but the torque figure was even more staggering. Just breaking quadriple digits, the M275 AMG produced no short of 1,000Nm of torque – and if you thought that was the end of that, you’d be wrong. In 2008, out came the ludicrous SL63 AMG Black Series, with 493kW (661 hp) and an astonishing 1,200Nm. However, the variant fitted to the Black Series was so powerful, Mercedes had to restrict it to 1,000Nm.
It doesn’t end there though. In 2012, Mercedes introduced an even more powerful variant of the M275 AMG, dubbing it the M158. Replacing the absurd twin-turbochargers with twin-scroll turbochargers, the engine was placed behind the cockpit of the Pagani Huayra, which in its most powerful form produced an astronomical 616kW (827 hp) and 1,100Nm. The same engine is still found in the present-day Huayra, so although Daimler has moved on from the M275 engine, it’s still being used by Pagani.
03. Daimler-Benz M100 modified by AMG
Coming in at number 3 on our list, the heavily modified version of the iconic Mercedes 6.3L V8. In stock form, the 6.3 made 184kW (247 hp) of power and 500Nm of torque, which fitted to the 300SEL luxury car, a 0-100km/h figure could be achieved in a respectable 6.6 seconds, making it the fastest German car available for purchase in 1968.
Established in 1967, the new Mercedes tuner went straight to action on the 300SEL’s ‘M100’ engine and in 1971, just four years after their commissioning, AMG made a monster.
The result of a few years in development was a new enlarged M100 engine. Displacement increased to 6.8 litres and power outputs rose through the roof to 313kW (420hp). Keeping it mated to the 300SEL chassis, AMG took to work modifying the rest of the car to make a surprise appearance at Spa.
Initial responses to the new ‘AMG’ were not perceived well, with people laughing at it, dubbing it the ‘Red Pig’ for its questionable looks – however its performance proved anything but laughable. 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds meant that during the race, Red Pig easily outperformed every other car on the track, flying past car after car and taking out first in its class, almost winning the event as a whole if not for the absurd number of fuel stops.
The 300SEL 6.8 AMG ‘Red Pig’ shot AMG into a world of fame, and if not for the absurd V8 engine, AMG may have never risen to become an icon in modern car manufacturing.
02. AMG M113K/M155K V8 Kompressor
Shocking the world on its debut in the S55 and SL55 in 2002, AMG went all-in on the new M113K, taking AMG’s own bulletproof handcrafted 5.4L V8 and bolting on an IHI lysholm teflon coated twin-screw supercharger, badging the side of every car housing the engine with ‘V8 Kompressor’, German for Compressor.
Winning the ‘International Performance Engine of the Year’ award upon its release, the V8 Kompressor produced an incredible-even-for-modern-standards 380kW (510 hp) of power and 720Nm of torque. Later fitted to the CL55, E55, G55, CLS55 – some recieving slightly de-tuned variants, the engine was praised for its high torque figures and consistant bulletproof reliability.
The last car to be introduced with the iconic engine was the extremely rare 2004 CLK DTM, a celebration of Mercedes’ CLK winning the DTM championship, and it was nothing short of ludicrous. The engine was beefed up to 428kW (574hp) and 800Nm, accelerating the car from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds, which at the time was high-end supercar territory.
It doesn’t quite end there. In the same year as the CLK DTM was released, Mercedes had partnered with McLaren and modified their M113K to fit in a new super-touring car. Stepping the power to 460kW (617 hp) and 780Nm, the new version of the M113K was given a new engine cover and a new name. The M155 SLR, fitted to nonetheless – the SLR McLaren. An even more powerful iteration was released in 2006 for the 722 Edition, with 478kW (641hp) and 820Nm, recording more power than even their own V12 BiTurbo found in AMG’s 65 models.
By 2008, the V8 Kompressor’s time was mostly up leaving only the G55 in its range, and in 2011 the iconic M113K was officially withdrawn from production – and a new V8 set to reign in the heart of an AMG.
AMG M156/M159 V8
Coming in at number one is an engine which troubled by problems, defects, flaws initial bad reception and even a class-action law suit, became the best AMG engine ever made. 2007 to 2011 engines suffered massively, we don’t know how else to put it. Oil leaks, camshaft adjuster failure, pulley failures leading to thermostat damage, camshaft hitting the hydraulic lifters, intake manifold failure, and the dreaded head bolt failure – flooding cylinders with coolant. That list was just the common problems.
Introduced in 2007, the engine was initially fitted to the facelift CLK, badging it ’63’ – and then it spread like wildfire. E63, CLS63, R63, ML63, C63, GL63, S63, SL63, CLS63, CL63 (let us know if we’ve missed any out). Almost every Mercedes-Benz model now had an AMG variant with this new engine. And the specifications? A monstrous 6208cc V8, 336kW (451hp), up to 386kW (518hp), and endless raucous and rumblling sound from the cross-plane V8.
During a 14-month long class-action lawsuit filed in 2011, Mercedes revised the M156, fixing all its issues and turning it into the icon it should have always been. It only lived on in one car – the C63. And it was good.
The Edition 507 came, rated at 378kW (507hp), but not before one of AMG’s greatest creations of modern times. The C63 AMG Black Series. 380kW (510 hp) and 620Nm meant that paired with Mercedes’ 7-speed MCT multi-clutch, could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds, but it wasn’t solely specifications that made the Black Series amazing. Throw away the numbers, get in and drive it. The engine is a perfect balance to the driving dynamics, making for one of the world’s greatest drivers cars.
The M159 6.2L V8 was a heavily reworked variation of the M156 fitted to the SLS AMG – lighter, better balanced and more inclined to handle fast cornering speeds. Original power outputs stood at 420kW (563 hp), uprated to 435kW (583hp) for the SLS GT, and then uprated again in 2013 for the SLS AMG Black Series, a hardcore track-focused road car inspired by the GT3 race car.
An incredible 464kW (622hp) from a cross-plane crank V8, the most powerful normally asiprated V8 road car ever made – and even more powerful than the twin-turbocharged M178 V8 in the current AMG GT R. The M156 and retrospectively the M159 were a true feat of engineering, and something that may not ever be replicated again in the automotive industry as it switches to downsizing and adding forced induction. Doesn’t that just ruin the emotion?
Fun fact: The M159 is still being made by Mercedes for their previous and current AMG GT3 race cars, built to the same specification as the SLS AMG Black Series.
AMG M120 V12 – SL73 AMG, Pagani Zonda, CLK GTR AMG
Mercedes-AMG M133 inline-4 – A45 AMG, CLA45 AMG, GLA45 AMG
AMG ‘6.0 Hammer’ V8 – 300E 6.0 AMG Hammer, 300CE 6.0 AMG Hammer
Do you agree with our list? What AMG engine do you think deserved a mention?