As a rival to other slightly more affordable penultimate sports offerings like the BMW M Performance and Audi S lines, AMG Sport was launched with the new GLE 450 Coupe in late 2014, appearing again in 2015 with the C450.
Now, according to American magazine Car & Driver, the recent debut of the Mercedes-AMG SLC43 is the first hint that the AMG Sport badge will be dropped, with a range of more affordable Mercedes-AMG offerings destined to take their place.
There’s sense in that: with power provided by the same 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre turbo V6 that drives the GLE450 AMG and C450 AMG, the SLC43 would likely be dubbed SLC 450 AMG if it had been released a year ago.
The change in tack suggests we can expect the GLE450 and C450 to be upgraded to Mercedes-AMG GLE43 and C43 (the latter having appeared years ago in the W202 C-Class generation) badges soon, although perhaps not until their mid-life updates later this decade.
We can likely also expect to see a Mercedes-AMG E43 model debut in the next year, ahead of the new E63's debut.
This new approach would likely also mean a revision of AMG’s “One Man, One Engine” policy, with the lower-powered and more affordable models likely to be built in far greater numbers than the current strategy could meet the demand for.
That the new ‘43’ models may not have their engines built by just one worker is unlikely to bother buyers, who can’t seem to get enough of the performance brand: in 2015 alone, the local Mercedes-Benz operation sold 4000 AMG models, the highest proportion of the brand’s sales anywhere in the world.
And, after all, the current AMG Sport models already benefit from a significant amount of chassis and engine tuning by Mercedes-AMG. New '43' badges would hardly diminish the brand.
Mercedes-Benz Australia communications manager Jerry Stamoulis told CarAdvice today that the SLC43 will hit Australia later this year, but could not confirm changes to the GLE450 and C450 models.