Hot rod division set to abandon bogans' favourite feature
MERCEDES-BENZ'S hot rod division is set to drop the old school tech that made it cool.
AMG looks set to get rid of the classic rear-wheel drive layout, instead reverting to all-wheel drive for its high-performance models.
"Customers have given us the answer, and most want four-wheel drive," AMG boss Tobias Moers told the UK's Autocar magazine.
He said when the updated E63 from 2013 was offered with an optional all-wheel drive system around 90 per cent of buyers chose to drive four wheels.
Moers also pointed to the advanced all-wheel drive system in the latest E63 AMG, something that incorporates a rear-wheel drive mode to allow the smoky burnouts and drifts capable with a rear-wheel drive car.
"In the new E63 with drift mode, you have a real rear-wheel drive car but with four-wheel drive also," Moers said.
All of which points to one of AMG's most popular models, the V8-powered C-Class, switching to all-wheel drive for the next generation.
Moers also suggested the company's flagship two-door, the AMG GT, would switch to all-wheel drive, in part for "safety and stability" benefits.
"When I ask customers about the GT, they ask me about all-wheel drive," he said, pointing to competitors (likely Porsche) as leveraging AWD.
The former independent tuner that became part of the Daimler family in 1999 built its reputation on rear-wheel drive performance cars - in much the same way Ford and Holden heavily marketed rear-wheel drive for their Falcon and Commodore performance models.
Rear-wheel drive is seen as a pure sports car formula, allowing the front wheels to turn the car and the rears to deliver power.
It's also the layout chosen by many motorsport categories, including Formula One and V8 Supercars.
But in recent years AMG has tested the appetite for all-wheel drive, which brings performance and handling benefits and better harnesses the big power being produced by modern performance cars.
AMG's first hot hatch model - the A45 AMG and spin-off GLA45 and CLA45 - came standard with all-wheel drive, helping them accelerate with the ferocity of some of Porsche's sports cars.
The current E63 - a modern iteration of the classic AMG sedan - comes standard with all-wheel drive, making it one of the fastest four-doors on the planet.
And, of course, AMG has a long line of AWD SUVs.
Moers also said the company's mid-term performance gains for its V8 models would come from electric motors rather than the engine itself as part of a hybrid system.
He said there were no plans to develop the current twin-turbo V8 beyond its current 4.0-litre capacity.
Moers said the first car to debut the V8 hybrid would be the four-door AMG GT 4-Door, the first bespoke four-door model from the performance sub-brand.