The long-awaited Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic makes its premiere in Detroit this week, giving the world its first full look at the company’s forthcoming Audi S4 and BMW 335i rival.
This new member of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class family brings the hallowed AMG badge to a lower price point, and combines elements of the existing C400 with sportier bits from the forthcoming new-generation C63.
Given the C63, the new version of which is due mid-year, has historically been AMG’s most popular locally, the new more affordable, less powerful C450 promises to be a timely introduction. With global production beginning mid-2015, expect Australian examples to lob in early 2016, though the wagon version is only a 50:50 proposition.
So what is it? Mercedes says that while it is based on the non-AMG C400 (not sold in Australia), it has driving dynamics “geared towards the Mercedes-AMG C63” with, for instance, shared suspension components, and one clear look tells you it’s also been given AMG-esque styling to impress the neighbours.
The C450 is the second model in AMG’s new initiative to make second-tier versions of its higher-end cars, and follows its shift downmarket with the likes of the four-pot A45 AMG and CLA45 AMG twins. The GLE450 Coupe will be the first model to wear this new nomenclature.
Under the C450’s bonnet sits a tweaked version of the C400’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine from its BlueDIRECT family, which gets mods including greater boost pressure. Outputs are 270kW (up 28kW) between 5500-6000rpm and 520Nm of torque between 2000-4200rpm.
Mercedes-Benz claims the C450 AMG consumes 7.6L/100km of fuel on the combined cycle and dispatches the 0-100km/h dash in 4.9 seconds as a sedan or 5.0sec as an Estate wagon. Yes, there is a wagon version, as with the C63.
As the 4Matic name suggests, the C450 is an all-wheel-drive proposition — a further point of difference from the rear-drive C63 V8 but one it has in common with the Audi S4 — that sends two-thirds of engine power to the rear axle.
Power is channeled via a 7G-Tronic Plus automatic with full M manual mode that will never shift of its own volition.
Naturally, AMG’s Dynamic Select driving mode adjustor is standard, tweaking the characteristics of the suspension, steering and powertrain (throttle response) from very sharp Sports Plus to city-focused Comfort and greener Eco.
More interesting is the addition of the AMG Ride Control three-stage damper-adjustable suspension system pinched from the C63.
The four-link front axle has special steering knuckles and stronger load-bearing joints. Both the front axle and the multi-link rear have more negative camber to enhance lateral dynamics. Mercedes-Benz has also stiffened the C450’s bodyshell.
Fitted also is an electro-mechanical steering system with speed-sensitivity (it adds resistance at a greater clip) and an AMG-specific steering ratio tuned for greater response.
The five-spoke black 18-inch light-alloy wheels are shod in 225/45 rubber at the front and 245/40 at the rear. Behind the spokes sit, at all four corners, 360mm/320mm front/rear vented brakes with grey calipers.
AMG design elements added to give more visual panache — beyond the AMG badges — include new front air intakes, diamond meshes, silver chrome trim, and a rear bumper with matt iridium silver diffuser inserts. There are also numerous glossy black inserts.
Inside the cabin are artificial leather (Artico) instrument panel surrounds and other various touchpoints, aluminium trimmings, red seatbelts and piping on the fascia, AMG sports seats and racier dials. Low-speed autonomous brakes are also standard.
The C450 launches in Australia in early 2016. Expect local pricing around the $110K-$120K mark, making it a much more affordable entry point to the AMG C-Class range below the circa-$160K AMG C63 S.