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by Daniel DeGasperi

Mercedes-Benz performance division AMG has outlined a strategy to achieve 30,000 global sales by 2017, “especially through all-wheel drive [products]”.

The plan, called ‘AMG Performance 50’ to commemorate the tuning specialist’s half-century, will see the Mercedes-AMG line-up expand to 30 models within four years, with the addition of front driveshafts a sure thing for all future AMG models, including the next C-Class.

The product expansion, Mercedes-AMG believes, will yield a 10,000-unit sales increase between 2011 (when AMG sold 20,000 cars) and 2017.

AMG’s version of the Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system debuted in the A45 AMG earlier this year and followed in the E63 AMG S-Model this month, while the 4MATIC roll-out will continue with introduction of the CLA45 AMG later in 2013.

“As standalone variants, the S-Models are now a fixed part of the new AMG line-up,” announced Mercedes-AMG powertrain development manager Dr Gerald Thater at the launch of the E63 AMG S-Model.

“We will naturally be offering more AMG cars as S-Models in future, such as the CLS63 AMG in coupe and Shooting Brake formats.”

Thater confirmed the next-generation C-Class AMG would also be available with all-wheel drive. Unlike the left-hand-drive-only E63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC, the new-generation C-Class AMG 4MATIC, due in 2015, will be available in right-hand drive for the Australian market.

In the E63 AMG S-Model AWD, the front driveshaft sprouts out of the dual-clutch gearbox to the right, meaning that the steering hardware for right-hand-drive variants cannot fit next to the all-wheel drive hardware. Thater said this would not be a problem for any future AMG 4MATIC variant – including the next E-Class AMG due in 2016 – all of which will be engineered to accept the steering wheel on either side of the car.

The next-generation C-Class will share its platform with the new GLK-Class, the Mercedes-Benz compact SUV that in its current generation was also built only in left-hand drive. While executives within the company admit that it hugely underestimated the demand for SUVs in right-hand drive, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed the GLK-Class will be produced for right-hand-drive markets in its next generation.

An AMG version of the GLK-Class is a certainty, but Thater wouldn’t be drawn into specifics about what engine the new model would use. Due around the same time as the C-Class AMG, it is likely that both will receive a downsized 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 to replace the 6.2-litre non-turbo V8 in the current C63 AMG.

Asked whether the AMG version of the new S-Class (spied below) would be available in all-wheel drive, Thater paused, smiled, and told us “I forgot…” Expect the S-Class AMG models to debut in 2014, shortly after the launch of the sixth-generation luxury limo later this year.

Mercedes-AMG is acutely aware that all-wheel drive is not traditionally in keeping with the performance division’s philosophy and heritage, with rear-drive long being an AMG trademark.

Citing the torque split of the E63 AMG S-Model – which sends 67 per cent of drive to the rear wheels, and only 33 per cent to the fronts – Mercedes-AMG claims that “rear-end emphasis delivers classic AMG handling and first-class driving fun”.

Asked whether Thater would prefer to drive a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive E63 AMG S-Model, the powertrain boss responded unequivacolly. “All-wheel drive … it has all the benefits of rear-wheel drive with extra traction [and] the highest neutrality at the limit.”

Paramount to the addition of all-wheel-drive models, however, is the recognition by Mercedes-AMG that performance cars are getting faster and traction – putting power to the ground via four wheels instead of two – is critical to the company achieving quicker performance figures. “[4MATIC] significantly increases the traction, which is expressed in breathtaking acceleration figures,” the company argues.

It also helps expand the Mercedes-AMG line-up to achieve its target of 30,000 global sales by 2017.

“I am certain this [all-wheel drive] will see us reach new customers and markets, and continue to drive forward the growth of AMG,” Thater said.

Read CarAdvice’s review of the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.

  • Got_rice

    Far out! An AWD C-Class AMG? That thing will be a rocket ship!

    • Zaccy16

      yep it will be super fast! the current one is very fast but could be faster with more traction

  • macca

    every time i see 4MATIC, i think 4 speed automatic transmission 😛

  • Aayayu18

    This is a major change in their thinking. Looks like Audi may get a pounding once AMG goes AWD.
    Wonder if the M division at BMW are changing anything, Two of their German counterparts will be heading down the AWD strategy …..

    CA and update also on the new WRX? 

    • JooberJCW

      Yep a definite major shift and more appropriate one, one that’s more targeted to the majority of buyers of these cars, its the acceleration benefit off the line due to more traction which more usable than high-speed in daily driving. Plus the surefootedness of AWD helps those whose driving abilities aren’t so great (which probably happens to be alot of the buyers too)

      If more if not the majority of buyers of AMG, M, S, were trackists, I doubt this direction they are taking would have ever seen the light of day.

  • Noddy_of_Toyland

    Yumbo, AMG is the best tuning house out.

  • Zaccy16

    All of these near AMG models will be super fast! but by the look of the torque split still rear end biased so lots of fun power oversteer! that pic of the e amg looks great in black