Mercedes-Benz has launched its second AMG Sport variant as it looks to fill the gap between the regular C-Class models and the full-blown Mercedes-AMG models.
Based on the most powerful production model of the standard C-Class line-up, the C400 4Matic, the C450 has been given a thorough AMG makeover with the goal of providing a more scintillating driving experience, as well as a more affordable alternative to the top-shelf Mercedes-AMG C63.
While this performance brand-broadening strategy might be new for Mercedes-Benz, German rivals Audi and BMW have been offering sportier variants of their standard models for years.
Audi has the “S” versions that sit under the full-blown “RS” models, while BMW markets warmer versions through the M Sport brand. Audi in particular, has been hugely successful in attracting new buyers and a wider customer base.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic utilises the same twin-turbocharged V6 engine found in its GLE 450 AMG Coupe sibling. Armed with 270kW of power and 520Nm of torque delivered to all four wheels, this AMG-fettled sedan is capable of sprinting from zero to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
During normal driving conditions, the 4Matic all-wheel drive system sends 67 per cent of the power to the rear wheels versus 55 per cent for the C400.
It’s also impressively efficient, consuming just 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres for the sedan and 7.7L for the estate. CO2 emissions are equally commendable at 178g/km and 182g/km respectively.
While the GLE 450 AMG Coupe gets a nine-speed auto, the C450 AMG 4Matic uses a seven-speed torque converter automatic with a range of drive modes including Sport and Sport+. In manual mode, the transmission will not automatically shift at redline, instead relying on the driver to change gears.
The C450 AMG’s chassis has also been enhanced with sophisticated suspension technology including three-stage damper adjustment adopted from the C63.
While the Mercedes strategy of attracting a wider customer base with AMG Sport vehicles certainly has potential, they have also been careful to protect the identity of the fully-fledged AMG models when it comes exterior styling. The main differences are the ‘diamond’ grille, 18-inch wheels (the C63 gets 19-inch alloys) and no "power dome" bonnet for the C450.
Inside, you’ll find AMG sports buckets and several AMG badges. There’s also a leather wrapped sports steering wheel and plenty of metallic accents and red contrast stitching for an overall sporty look and feel.
Expect the Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe to arrive in Australia mid-2015, while the C450 AMG 4Matic will land early 2016 with a price tag in the low $100,000 range.