Mercedes-AMG is set to expand its small car product offering in line with a new expanded portfolio put forward by the brand over the coming years in line with a couple of new small models from the main brand.
The brand currently sells the A-Class hatch, B-Class MPV, CLA-Class (with two body variants – four-door coupe and wagon) and GLA-Class SUV, but Zetsche said three additional models will be added to the ranks,
It is understood that a more conventional A-Class sedan will be one of them, and it is due on sale later in 2017. This is going to be based on the new-generation MFA2 platform, unlike the original models which are built on MFA1.
The other models likely to be added include a new boxier GLB SUV, which is set to be larger and more practicality-focused than the GLA: read that as you want, but expect this to be Mercedes-Benz’s answer to the BMW X1, but with the option of seven seats.
A boxy SUV? One would hope the production model of that car was presaged by the Ener-G Force concept SUV (below).
It is unclear what the third model will be. It could simply be a slightly smaller version of the GLB with only five seats, or something completely different.
One thing it won’t be is a three-door coupe or convertible. CarAdvice understands Mercedes-Benz has crunched the numbers, and there’s little demand for such a car: people want five doors for better practicality, and we’ve heard that because so many females buy the smaller Benz models, access to the rear seats is important.
To that end, it is expected that the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan will get a bigger boot than the CLA four-door coupe, not to mention a bigger back seat – both the entry point and the physical space.
Zetsche wouldn’t be drawn to comment on the A-Class sedan, but when asked about SUVs as a zone for focus, he said: “It’s part of the growth”.
“We're not at the time to announce our future compact car product portfolio – I have said what I am willing and able to say on that,” Zetsche said.
And of course, more models means more Mercedes-AMG variants and versions, according to Tobias Moers, head of that branch of the company.
“That's more work for us,” Moers said.
It seems likely that it won’t just be the full-fat AMG 45 models added to the ranks, though – there’s every chance that the brand will offer its AMG Performance variants, a la the C43, GLC43 and E43 (the lesser versions of the AMG 63 models) in the small-car line-up.
“As you know, we don’t have the AMG performance models in today’s MFA generation. There are opportunities for us. Expansion of that portfolio gives us other opportunities,” Moers said. “It’s a lot more work.”
That will likely mean that the current A250 Sport, CLA250 Sport, GLA250 Sport and, to a lesser extent, the B250 Sport, will, in their next generation guises, be sold as Mercedes-AMG products. The nomenclature is undefined as yet, but we could see the Mercedes-AMG A25 instead of the A250 Sport.
That would help Mercedes-AMG further increase its sales share locally and globally, and the local numbers for those Sport models are pretty strong.
The most popular 250 Sport currently on sale is the CLA Shooting Brake, with 47 per cent of overall sales being that particular variant, while the CLA250 Sport Coupe has a model split of 31 per cent. The A250 Sport is a bit higher than that – 33 per cent of overall sales – while the GLA250 Sport SUV scores 30 per cent of sales. The B250 is aimed at a very different buyer, and with no AMG 45 version to sell up to, it accounts for only 13 per cent of sales, overall.
Moers said the extra volume means other ways of selling Mercedes-AMG products to potential customers.
“With the higher volume we have more dedication at the point of sale,” he said. “I am flying to Japan to open up the very first dedicated Mercedes-AMG dealership. And we are working together with the guys in Australia to do the same thing.
“This gives us another opportunity, and to increase volume and get the potential out of the markets. This is part of the strategy,” he said, indicating the AMG brand has no known limit just yet.
“Porsche had this discussion years and years and years ago – did they rest the brand? No.”