By on April 29, 2019

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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16 Comments on “AMG=AWD? Sub-brand’s Boss Says Rear-drive Hate Is Fueling the Switch...”


  • avatar
    jack4x

    Another sacrifice on the altar of electric/hybrid, AWD, automatic performance cars.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      AMG cars’ raison d’etre, is to drive like an a-hole. Holeshoot and block Bimmer drivers attempting to do the same in tight traffic, etc. They’re great for hogging the right turn lane on reds, then getting the jump on the guy to your left and cutting in front of him. As well as for quick, rude and illegal passes around people with slightly delayed reactions in Beverly Hills rush hour. And for bragging rights, of course. All of which benefits from automatic everything and AWD.
      For anything more redeemable, they haven’t been particularly relevant since Putin took control over the Russian Mafia.

  • avatar
    Fred

    You have spent all your life amassing a fortune instead of of running wild in the boonies, your driving skills may not be up to the task of controlling your new toy. Sure you can go to a weekend school and learn something, mostly humility that you aren’t very good at this go fast stuff. Besides all you want to do is show off to your new girlfriend, maybe some cool Instagram posts too. So a bunch of computers to keep you out of the ditch. You’re welcome.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    No no, this is all wrong, V8 power should go to the rear axle while electric goes to the front. What is this a w-body impala?

  • avatar
    tedward

    They should have done this as soon as Audi began to really dig in. It’s obvious to me that consumers going to Merc have been doing so in spite of the rwd for quite some time. BMW is a different story, although they would probably benefit from this as well (outside of certain trim levels). And no, it’s not about actually making the cars safer, it’s about perception. At the end of the day that’s all that matters when you are talking purely discretionary purchases.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      BMW *is* doing this, to my understanding. The new M5 is AWD, with a rear-axle-disconnect mode. The upcoming M3 and M4 will have a similar AWD system, but will allegedly offer a “Pure” model that’s just RWD and that can be had with a manual transmission. And the high-performance SUVs, like the X5 M, X6 M, and more-recent X3 M and X4 M, have always been AWD.

      Moreover, even the half-M models on the newer cars, which are the most powerful non-M versions you can get, mandate AWD. You cannot get a RWD M550i, M760i, or M850i.

      But Audi actually needed the AWD in the first place, because their cars’ default axle is the front one, whether with a transverse or longitude-mounted engine. The only truly RWD-based cars they’ve made in recent years were the first-generation Q7 and both versions of the R8.

      • 0 avatar
        OliverTwist78

        “The only truly RWD-based cars they’ve made in recent years were the first-generation Q7…”

        Audi has NEVER offered the rear-wheel-drive Q7.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I said RWD-based. The PL7x that underpinned the first-gen Q7 and first- and second-gen Touareg and Cayenne is built like a traditional RWD platform. I believe it’s development was led by Porsche. For the latest big SUVs, which include the new Touareg, Cayenne, Q7, Q8, Urus, and Bentayga, VW Group now uses the MLB platform, which is technically longitude-FWD-based, in traditional Audi fashion.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        you are right of course. I always wondered why the other luxury makes didn’t see Audi’s success as something to immediately address, instead they let them run it (unopposed) long enough that they “own” the awd drivetrain identity for the segment. Same goes for Subaru, although at least there the margins are thin enough that you can plausibly say, “hey it’s either awd or a better engine/interior.” In the premium segment, with their margins, no such excuse exists. It must be a foreign market preference driving that reluctance.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve never driven one with the 4.0L, but the 3.0L *53-AMG stuff (which I have driven) is not so powerful that it needs AWD in dry/damp conditions. However, I get that people where it snows might want it anyway.

    These “drift modes” could theoretically be ok on an AWD car, but they need to not be buried under several submenus and they need to be more customizable.

  • avatar

    It’s a simple matter of excess powah. Compare, say a Nissan GT-R to a CTS-V. Both cars have 5-600 hp. The GT-R is just less drama. The CTS-V, when the blower kicks in, goes sideways…even at 85 mph. The AMG folks go on, and on, about “real AMG”, etc, but the simple fact is that the C63 will 0-60 in 4, and the “not a real AMG” C43 will do it in 4.5. Get off the drag strip and unless you spend time on the Autobahn, the C43 with AWD is just way more useable. There are a fair number of youtube videos showing the “slower” C43 spanking the C63 on slightly moist pavement. Once power gets over 400 hp, you just have more torque than tires, so asking the fronts to assist is helpful. Even cars that are FWD (R Golf, AMG CLA class (and no any CLA isn’t even a real Benz, let along AMG) will ask the back wheels to help out-so you end up with AWD no matter what the origin of the chassis. Porsche went AWD long ago, and on the cars, not the trucks….

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      came here to say the same thing.

      at a certain level in HP two-wheel drive just isn’t enough; especially if you don’t have/want super sticky/expensive summer/track tires.

      that point in HP is much higher for RWD than FWD but more and more cars are exceeding that point.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        S19GT

        I agree with one caveat. The lowest tolerance for excess power lies with front wheel drive. Even a hot hatch (stock) gets absurdly light on the front end accelerating with anything over 200lb/ft, to the point where traction is dramatically reduced and there is zero grip left for (effective) turning inputs. A 3200lb rear wheel drive car though, I don’t think you hit that point till 300lb/ft +. Even then it’s the rear, so turn in grip isn’t affected at all. Snow or dry I’d rather be in that 300lb/ft rwd’er on a hill than a high power fwd’er. That, of course, assumes equal tires etc… which is not really realistic usually.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    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.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      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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