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Over the past two decades, the big German automakers have been continuously cranking up the power levels of their high performance cars to absolutely insane levels. It's gotten to the point where you must have a minimum of 500 hp or more just to get into the game; many cars approach 600hp. Mercedes-Benz's in-house performance brand AMG has now declared "ENOUGH!" Volker Mornhinweg, head of AMG told Autocar, "The horsepower war is over." The key to performance is a high power to weight ratio. Unfortunately, when you have a lot of weight, you need more power to maintain performance. That means bigger tires and brakes are also needed, leading to an escalating cycle.
As Lotus has clearly demonstrated with the Elise and its derivatives, a lightweight car can have tremendous performance even with modest power levels. Mornhinweg is taking that to heart and promises to reduce the mass of future AMG Mercedes models starting with the next-generation E63 that debuts later this year. The new E-Class is lighter than the outgoing model and a dual clutch gearbox will also be part of the package to help improve efficiency. Diesel, hybrid and four cylinder drivetrains are also in AMG's future product plans as the tuner brand tries to maintain performance while meeting the new environmental realities.