At the launch of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLC (pictured in this post) in Stuttgart overnight we spoke with Matthias Lührs, vice president of sales functions for Mercedes-Benz Cars and product management, who confirmed the plans for a pair of sporty new versions of the mid-sized SUV – and we’ll likely see both of them in 2016.
“Yep [it’s] coming,” he said of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC 450 AMG Sport, which will likely make use of a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 270kW of power and 520Nm of torque (the same engine used in the C450 AMG Sport).
“[And 63] also. [We will] definitely do it. It’s called the 63, the new one is the 63,” he said. The existing GLK, which was only ever available in left-hand drive markets, was never sold in AMG guise, though it was fitted with an AMG styling pack on some variants.
As for the timing of the new GLC 63 model, Lührs confirmed it will be “next year” before going on to confirm the engine will be the same as is used in the C63.
It will be the first such version of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine to be offered with all-wheel drive, as the C63 only comes in rear-drive. It is unlikely there will be a rear-drive GLC 63.
The Mercedes-AMG C63 produces 350kW between 5500-6200rpm and 650Nm between 1750-4500rpm, while the C63 S pumps out 375kW and 700Nm at the same engine speeds.
Currently, it is unknown if there will be an S version of GLC 63, but given that the Australian arm takes the higher-output version if there’s that option (that’s the case with the C63 S), then it seems likely that’s the one we’d get.
And when Lührs was asked about whether the cars will be sold in Australia, the answer was clear.
“Why not? You think it’s not a good idea?” he posited. “Australia is proportionally … one of the top three countries in the world for AMG. I mean proportionally, compared to the total sales. The share for AMG is very high.”
Mercedes-Benz Australia manager of public relations and product communications, Jerry Stamoulis, said the brand “would certainly welcome an AMG variant into our market”.
Asked whether both the Mercedes-Benz GLC 450 AMG Sport and the more hardcore Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 will be offered, Stamoulis said “both would work well in our market”.
Lührs said that right-hand-drive markets will only drive the success of the model higher than it has been with the GLK. That car has sold more than 650,000 units since 2008, and the last year of sales has been the greatest yet – so there’s good cause for Lührs’ enthusiasm.
Further, he confirmed that Australian buyers’ desire for a hardcore mid-size SUV had spurred the development of the new Mercedes-AMG GLC 63.
“Well, it contributed to it, but obviously as you all know the main driver for right-hand drive is the UK,” he said. And in the meantime also for us you might have studied that it was 140,000 cars so we are basically at the edge of BMW. And it used to be, three or four years ago, 80,000. So the UK has made a big progress in terms of sales and that helps also for the right-hand-drive development. And Japan – we used to do 30,000 now we do 60,000. So that obviously helped a lot. But also Australia now we sell 30,000 cars – when I was there we did 12,000,” Lührs stated of his time in Australia as managing director of passenger cars in the early 2000s.
“But I would say in all honesty, the main driver is the UK – but if you take all right-hand-drive countries altogether, it’s a very different kettle of fish. There are also countries like Thailand, Malaysia: they’re all selling in volume today what Australia used to sell 10 years ago.
“Australia is … a very important market for us. You can see that in all aspects: profitability, sales volume, market share, dealer profitability – the dealers are really happy. So yeah, it’s really on the map.
“Also going forward, so we are basically in development and listening to what Australia is asking for, yeah? They will probably not get every single engine or derivative, but I cannot think of any cars that you’re not getting at the moment.”
Note: the images used in this post are of the regular GLC range, as there are no images of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC 450 AMG Sport or Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 at this point in time.