MERCEDES-AMG’s desire to add a second ‘AMG-only’ car to its model range alongside the GT performance coupe is closer to becoming a reality, AMG boss Tobias Moers told Wheels at the New York Motor Show.
And where early reports suggested a stretched four-door version of the AMG GT, Wheels now understands the second AMG-only car will wear a purpose-designed four-door coupe body to rival the Porsche Panamera, and is likely to share only front and rear graphics with the GT coupe.
“The chance to do something as an additional car within our portfolio dedicated as a pure AMG is increasing,” Moers said. “We had a very successful 2015; we moved up by 40 percent in volume. Sold 68,875 cars last year. Huge success. We hit the throttle. [This year] we are chasing the same growth numbers.
“So now it makes sense to take it more into consideration, having the idea of another variant dedicated to AMG… another car. Let me put it this way: Not every rumour you saw last year is totally wrong,” he said.
In 2015, Mercedes board member Thomas Weber responded to media questions about a four-seat variant of the AMG GT (pictured below) with “Why not, huh … We are always looking [at] opportunities there. The success of the GT is huge, and now let’s see what the future will bring.”
Weber’s comment, it turns out, underplayed the independence the new car will have from the AMG GT. The car, codenamed X290 and due in early 2019, will not be a stretched four-door version of the AMG GT, but a bona-fide AMG rival for the next-generation Porsche Panamera - the design of which was previewed by the stunning Porsche Mission E concept (pictured below) shown at the Frankfurt show in October 2015.
“For AMG… there is a clear mission,” Moers told Wheels. “Even [Mercedes boss] Dr [Dieter] Zetsche stated that AMG could be a more interesting rival for Porsche.”
Where AMG’s current coupe hero makes use of one engine in two tunes, the AMG GT4 is being developed with multiple petrol engines in mind, from a turbocharged six-cylinder to the GT’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. A high-output six-cylinder diesel is also on the cards.
By the time the AMG GT4 launches, the GT range will have grown from two models to five, including a convertible version and two more extreme performance coupes.
Wheels has previously reported on the more hardcore AMG GT R (pictured top), which AMG is positioning to rival the 911 GT3 RS for performance, and which Tobias confirms “is faster on a race track than the SLS Black”. He said it will have more power, a higher top speed and “a little bit lighter” than the 1495kg GT S. “A little bit lighter, sure … we’ve add some weight and we lose some weight. [Overall] we can reduce it a little bit compared to the GT S, but not that far.”
Moers also confirmed the existence of the GT Black, describing the ultimate iteration of the AMG GT scheduled for late 2018 as “something you never would expect from [AMG]. We’ve put some ideas together … and have something unexpected.”
Moers also said that while AMG would increase the uniqueness of its model portfolio, and is rolling out dedicated AMG showrooms in countries including Australia, it would always remain a part of Mercedes.
“Growing to 48 variants [this year] there’s not enough space for a dealer to show every model. So we will have a dedicated AMG look and feel in a shop concept – we’re pushing the throttle in every perspective. We [have] standalone showrooms [already] in Brisbane and are rolling them out in other states. Just as we move forward with our models and performance, we are also bringing the AMG brand to life from the point of sale.
“[But] AMG will never stand separate to Mercedes. It is the performance brand of the three-pointed star.”
Mercedes-AMG will launch ‘43’-badged versions of a number of its models – including the C-Class sedan, Coupe and Cabriolet, and Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe and wagon – in Australia this year. Moers assured Wheels that while they would not have the engine power of their respective ‘63’-baged models, dynamically they would be bona fide AMG models.
“It would be easy to throw a badge on the front and do a little bit of retuning, but no, that’s the wrong way. All the ‘43’ cars we are going to present today have their own kinematic, their own axles, they do have their own steering as well – regarding ratio, rack, everything. Regarding driving dynamics … they have the same targets as the 63s.
“They have their own identity for sure.”
When asked why Mercedes-AMG chose the ‘43’ nomenclature, Moers responded: “You know, somebody didn’t write a doctorate about [it]. We thought it’s a nice number to position the cars. It’s a good interpretation of the performance level.”
We're giving away the last great Aussie Holden V8! Enter here for your chance to win!
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.