AMG=AWD? Sub-brand's Boss Says Rear-drive Hate Is Fueling the Switch

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
amg awd sub brands boss says rear drive hate is fueling the switch

Mercedes-AMG, the German luxury marque’s performance sub-brand, might eliminate all rear-drive vehicles from its lineup, AMG CEO Tobias Moers suggested during a recent interview.

The company’s boss claims buyers, who already favored putting their AMG’s additional power to all four wheels, are increasingly leaving rear-drive driving behind. The customer, of course, is always right, and in 2019 non-conformists are less likely than ever to get what they want.

Speaking to Autocar, Moers hinted that all next-generation AMG models will be AWD-only. Those non-conformists, however, might discover that going AWD might not cramp their style. Smoky burnouts and awkward drifting attempts while leaving the dealer could still be had by decoupling the front drive wheels, depending on model.

“Customers have given us the answer, and most want four-wheel drive,” Moers said.

“Back in the days when we had an AMG E-Class as rear-wheel drive and with four-wheel drive as an option, over 90 percent chose 4WD. In the new E63 with drift mode, you have a real rear-wheel-drive car but with four-wheel drive also.”

Even the GT supercar stands to go AWD, Moers said — a move that apparently wouldn’t leave many customers behind.

“When I ask customers about the GT, they ask me about all-wheel drive,” Moers said. “Regarding our competition, this is the downside of the AMG in terms of usability. People in Munich, for example, always, always ask for four-wheel drive – I think it’s for safety and stability.”

As promised, electrification will make inroads, offering buyers additional thrust while placating greenies and regulators. The AMG GT four-door coupe will be the first vehicle to use the company’s electrified V8, Moers said, with the vehicle adopting a plug-in setup that routes electric power to the rear axle. As for lesser AMGs, those vehicles could draw their power from fewer cubic inches.

Asked about the availability of a V8 engine in the next C63, Moers responded, “There is room for speculation there.”

Those hankering for a new low-end sports car can dream on, Moers added, as the sub-brand will instead lead development of the next Mercedes-Benz SL — dropping the new two-seater on the GT platform.

“We are focused on SL for the future,” he said. “Totally different car – It’s a sports car. The company has been running at full throttle for two years on that programme. It’s a shared platform between GT and SL.”

The current SL-Class bowed in 2012 and gained a refresh for the 2017 model year. Last year’s U.S. sales tally of 2,126 SLs was the model’s worst showing since the wind-down year of 2011, and less than a third of the volume of the current generation’s first full sales year.

[Images: Daimler AG]

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  • Johnny_5.0 Johnny_5.0 on Apr 29, 2019

    What hasn't been commented about yet is the obvious need for AWD for the performance sub brands. It's the only low hanging fruit left for spec measuring contests or stop light hero a'holes. All of these cars have been traction limited for a long time. The only thing stopping them from ludicrous speed was an extra pair of driven wheels. The M5 can hit sixty in the high 2 second range. That's just bonkers. Even a X3 M40i would probably take my SS from a dig on the street. AWD + boosted launch control + high gear count fast automatic. If the Mustang or Camaro go AWD (with a front you can disengage naturally) you'll be looking at a near 3 second car for ~$40k to start. Crazy town.

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Apr 30, 2019

    I've never heard of RWD hate. I have heard of high power FWD hate, and I have heard of a preference for AWD in areas that have snow. I've also heard many complain that an AWD version of an otherwise identical car (Audi excepted) generally handles worse due to the extra weight and rotating mass. I do understand that with today's ridiculously high power cars, AWD could offer advantages in real-world driving conditions, ie. light to light drag races. My personal preference is high power RWD or rear biased AWD. That being said, I wouldn't hate an AWD AMG car any more than I would hate an AWD M5.

    • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Apr 30, 2019

      Too late to edit; I do remember RWD hate in the 'old days' when good winter tires were unavailable and medium power RWD cars had a habit of hitting things backwards in the snow, and or just not moving.

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