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Mercedes-AMG to grow further apart from Benz

Body builder: Mercedes-AMG’s two-seat GT (left) is expected to receive a sibling in the form of a production version of the four-door GT Concept (below) shown at this year’s Geneva motor show.

More top models from Mercedes-AMG but cheaper, entry-level vehicle unlikely

Mercedes-AMG logo19 May 2017

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

MERCEDES-AMG will in the future launch a greater number of bespoke performance models separate from the regular Mercedes-Benz range, but not at the most affordable end of its line-up revealed a local spokesperson.

Speaking with GoAuto at the local launch of the E63 S, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy said that AMG’s future focus would be to create stand-alone vehicles for more expensive models that were able to more easily deliver a return on investment.

“AMG’s ability to do stand-alone cars is fairly limited obviously,” he said.

“GT is a stand-alone car. SLS was a stand-alone car.

“Recouping the development cost on those models, because, whilst sales are good, (it is easier because) by their nature those cars are more expensive.”

It has been all but confirmed that Mercedes-AMG will make a production version of the GT Concept shown at the Geneva motor show in March as a large four-door version of the two-door GT already on-sale.

However, asked whether a four-door Mercedes-AMG GT could replace the Mercedes-Benz CLS – which is due for imminent replacement given its E-Class donor vehicle switched to a new generation more than one year ago – Mr McCarthy replied: “No.”“CLS has been very successful,” he added.

“If that other model (four-door GT) is made that adds to the AMG portfolio. My understanding is CLS will continue in a new model.”

Given that both a four-door GT and the CLS conform to a large, coupe-style sedan configuration, Mr McCarthy agreed that Mercedes-AMG would become a more separate brand from Mercedes-Benz in the future.

“Yeah, I think you see that,” he concurred.

“SLS and GT and GT Roadster, and all those variants, they don't have a Mercedes-Benz equivalent. It’s a Mercedes-AMG as opposed to a Mercedes Benz. I would only see that trend continuing.

“AMG sales in Australia are very, very strong and pretty much in all the other markets they operate in as well. There’s an opportunity for AMG to do more.

“They (Mercedes-AMG) are in charge of the V8 engine development and V12. It would make some sense that if you’re doing new models that are going to fill a niche, or be it a larger niche, that AMG is the likely one to do it.”

However, economies of scale all but rule out the Mercedes-Benz performance division – with its Affalterbach headquarters positioned a half-hour’s drive north of its parent company’s Stuttgart base – delivering more affordable sportscars.

Responding to rumours that the Mercedes-Benz SLC – the recently renamed version of the long-running SLK – is not due to be replaced, Mr McCarthy said: “We haven’t had confirmation of that.”

Although the Mercedes-AMG GT openly targets the Porsche 911, the smaller Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 roadster has long lagged behind the cheaper Porsche Boxster and Cayman rivals in sales and media evaluations.

A stand-alone Mercedes-AMG version could close the gap between competitors, but it is still unlikely that a potential next-generation iteration would be produced solely by Mercedes-AMG.

“We don’t know about SLC,” Mr McCarthy continued.

“Certainly in markets that it sells well, those markets will be wanting it to be replaced. Whether an SLC is part of that (product planning) we haven’t actually been told. Whether it’s done by Mercedes-Benz or whether it’s done by AMG we don’t know.

“Two-seater convertibles are not big sellers, particularly the higher up the price point they get.”

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific has sold 113 units of the SLC year-to-date, according to April 2017 VFACTS figures, compared with 61 Porsche Boxster sales and 107 Porsche Cayman sales.

In the sportscar over $80,000 category, the two-seat Benz roadster has been outsold by a factor of 10 by its C-Class Coupe and Convertible four-seat sibling that procured 1131 sales so far this year.

With 50 registrations, the Mercedes-AMG GT has almost challenged the 84 units of the four-door Mercedes-Benz CLS range over the same period.

Mercedes-AMG alone has been tipped to reach 6000 sales in Australia in 2017, with the arrival of the E43 and E63 sedans in the first half of this year, the GT R coupe and GT/GT C roadster mid-year, and the GLC 63 medium SUV in December.

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