All AMGS great and small

The Mercedes hero brand is aim­ing to lure buy­ers of ev­ery­thing from Porsche to VW

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

A PORSCHE 911 fighter is one of eight cars that Mercedes-AMG will use as bait for the brand in Aus­tralia and around the world.

The mus­cle car com­pany is cel­e­brat­ing its 45th birthday with plans to de­liver 30,000 cars a year to new own­ers by 2015. It will build ev­ery­thing from a small hatch to a hulk­ing off-roader.

AMG has al­ready scored a hit with its top-end SLS coupe and road­ster. Priced from an eye-pop­ping $468,820 in Aus­tralia, these are the first cars de­vel­oped en­tirely by Benz’s hero sub-brand.

Now it is well ad­vanced with an­other in-house car, prob­a­bly to be called SLC, for sale as a V8 coupe from 2015 and a con­vert­ible a year later.

Noth­ing is con­firmed on the SLC front, de­spite an an­niver­sary teaser pic­ture show­ing the cur­rent AMG fam­ily with eight ex­tra mod­els un­der wraps.

‘‘ There will be an­other car at some point. We don’t know when, or what— yet,’’ Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Horst von Sanden tells Cars­guide.

He is more open on the other ad­di­tions to the AMG fam­ily and the po­ten­tial of the cars for Aus­tralian own­ers, giv­ing the nod to ev­ery­thing from the new SLS Black Se­ries head­liner to an A45 V6 all­wheel drive starter car, and from G and GL 63 SUVs to a com­ing S63 limou­sine.

‘‘ We’re al­ways in­ter­ested in what­ever prod­uct AMG has for our mar­ket,’’ von Sanden says.

The ap­petite for AMG in Aus­tralia now runs even deeper than the cars, al­though there will be about 1000 de­liv­er­ies this year, just shy of the record 1017.

‘‘ When peo­ple or­der their cars in ad­vance there is al­ways a 30-35 per cent fit­ting rate with AMG equip­ment. That could be wheels, or a body kit or a full pack­age. We know that’s what cus­tomers want.

‘‘ What we see is the halo ef­fect. We’ve done nearly 800 AMGs so far this year and, if we can get sup­plies, we could be on for a new record. There’s go­ing to be a huge rush to­wards the end of the year.’’

Von Sanden says AMG is now mov­ing whole­sale into tur­bocharged tech­nol­ogy be­cause it gives the per­for­mance punch that own­ers ex­pect but de­liv­ers it with im­pres­sive emis­sions and fuel econ­omy fig­ures.

But the AMG blue­print for global dom­i­na­tion does not in­clude V8 Su­per­car rac­ing.

A wealthy AMG owner hatched a plan to field a pair of AMG-pow­ered E-Class looka­likes against Ford, Holden and Nis­san from next year un­der the Car of the Fu­ture reg­u­la­tions for the cat­e­gory. It in­cluded a sup­ply line from AMG in Ger­many and a link to Stone Broth­ers Rac­ing, which has won ti­tles with Fal­cons.

But the plan floun­dered when Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia re­fused its es­sen­tial sup­port for use of the three-pointed star in a cat­e­gory vastly re­moved from its core cus­tomers.

‘‘ It’s re­ally sim­ple,’’ von Sanden says. ‘‘ We looked ex­ten­sively at the pro­gram, and we don’t be­lieve that our par­tic­i­pa­tion in V8 Su­per­cars is the cor­rect fit with our brand in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.’’

Pic­ture: Carparazzi

Wrap star: As­neak peek at the Benz A-ClassAMGhatch

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