Yesterday, 09:23 AM
Mercedes-AMG along with the entire Mercedes portfolio (Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Maybach) had an excellent showing at the 2014 LA Auto Show and they offered the most pleasurable experience of all the manufacturers at the show. All of the questions asked by BenzBoost were answered in a polite and professional manner.
And trust me there were many questions and some of them specifically were designed to tweak AMG a bit from the enthusiast perspective. Let's start with the major debut which is the AMG GT you see pictured in yellow and grey paint colors.
The styling in person of course is subjective but the vehicle is not nearly as striking as the SLS. Whereas the SLS attempted a modern take on the classic Gullwing SL the AMG GT looks like more of a mashup of the current Mercedes styling language. The front headlights obviously are influenced by the CLS and S classes and the rear lights take their cue from the S-Class coupe. It is a much safer and frankly more bland design interpretation than the SLS. That is not to say it does not look good as it does. It is just that the Mercedes designs are starting to blur together.
The same could be said about the new W205 generation C63 AMG. It does look like a miniature S-Class but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The C63 AMG simply looks great in person. Excellent, muscular presence and the best C-Class styling to date. It looks incredibly modern, elegant, and strong all at the same time. Borrowing design elements works in this application.
I started hammering the AMG representatives with questions and they never once ignored a question or lost their composure. Let's go over some of the questions.
BenzBoost: Why no dual clutch transmission for the C63 AMG?
The response I got from the Mercedes-AMG rep was that the C63 AMG is a different target audience than the AMG GT. The MCT works well in this application. That is a fine explanation and I followed up with:
BenzBoost: Even though the MCT works in this application isn't the reason the AMG GT has a dual clutch transmission and the C63 AMG does not because the rear transaxle dual clutch setup from the SLS AMG could simply be borrowed for the GT whereas in the C63 AMG it would require a new design and therefore cost more money?
I could see the (attractive) German female AMG rep flinch a bit after this one but her response was that cost cutting was not the reason the C63 AMG did not have a dual clutch transmission and that the MCT is better suited to the C63 character. Ok, so be it, but I was not exactly buying it and I pressed harder again stating that the dual clutch setup from the GT and the SLS would not work in the C63 meaning a new design would be necessary which another AMG representative overheard and agreed stating the additional cost was not worth it when the MCT automatic has proven to work so well. I got the answer I already knew but it was nice to have confirmation.
BenzBoost: Why no 4Matic all wheel drive for the W205 C63 AMG?
The answers here were all very logical. First of all, 4Matic adds considerable weight and the C63 is a sportier car than the E63 AMG as the reps stated. Additionally, they feel that overlap begins to happen in the lineup if the C63 AMG has 4Matic with the E63 as we all know is only offered in 4Matic guise in the USA.
BenzBoost: Why no dry sump lubrication for the M177 V8 in the C63 AMG?
The reps were not too thrilled with this question as they felt I seemed to be implying the M177 is inferior to the M178 which in a sense I was. As an enthusiast I expect the best parts available from a manufacturer in their cars and this goes for the C63 AMG as well. Even though the car comes in at a lower price point than the AMG GT we should at least have the option. Porsche offers dry sump lubrication on its SUV's and Mercedes-AMG can't on its cars when the system is already developed for the motor used?
I was told the AMG GT S is more of a track car and that is absolutely true. However, it is also more than twice the price of the C63 AMG. Not everyone can get a C63 AMG can afford an AMG GT and the AMG GT will never offer seating for more than a single passenger. The option of a dry sump system would at least be nice although it was pointed out to me by the reps that I would probably be the only person ordering the option. They are right. But they would definitely show they take hardcore enthusiasts who want the most from their cars into account.
BenzBoost: Are there internal differences between the M177 V8 in the C63 AMG and the standard C63?
I was told there is more to it than just the motor and was shown the wheels and brakes. That is true the S adds more than power but what I wanted to know is if the difference in C63 AMG S and C63 AMG output was from software and received confirmation that it is in fact just software.
BenzBoost: When will we see an AMG GT or C63 AMG Black Series model?
The AMG reps clammed up on this one. This was sort of a wink wink nudge nudge type of response. We all know it is coming but the AMG representatives were not allowed to talk about an AMG GT Black Series car. I mentioned Tobias Moers already stated a more hardcore AMG GT is coming but the reps told me as he is the head of AMG he can say whatever he wants but that they could not. They had a very good point.
BenzBoost: Why not unlock ECU's for guys who want to tune? Isn't the M177/M178 leaving a ton of power on the table?
Now the response to this was cool to see. The AMG rep started telling me how they are aware of tuning and specifically mentioned Weistec and Renntech. The rep went on to discuss some of the Weistec cars and as being a fan of what they do. Interesting, right?
The rep then stated that they have to protect their software as it will be ripped off. I mentioned that it is simply a matter of time before the software is cracked and that if OEM's wanted the info they have larger resources to get it than tuners. He agreed but said AMG has to take steps to protect itself and that if you want to tune these cars you have to work for it. He said he might not like it and some engineers may not like it but it is not their decision and there are too many concerns to factor in. Essentially, it would be like opening a pandora's box and no doubt warranty claims would skyrocket. Unfortunately, cultivating a closer relationship between the enthusiast and the factory does not seem possible due to politics.
This is a shame as AMG is targeting enthusiasts and all enthusiasts want is more out of their cars. It should not be a fight between the two but that is where things are. Some companies are more friendly in this respect than others and I at least came away with the sense that AMG is not opposed to modification but only wants to protect their intellectual property. With the reps knowledge of various tuners and their builds as well as what goes on in the forums I believed him.
I enjoyed my visit with Mercedes more than I did with any other manufacturer at the 2014 LA Auto Show. The reps immediately came over to answer all my questions and were very polite, informed, and professional. They managed to not get frustrated even though I tend to frustrate. No other manufacturer offered as much time to answer questions and show off the cars they had at their display.
Well done Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Maybach, and Mercedes-AMG.