Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mercedes-Benz to Build Subcompact B-Class AMG, Destined for U.S. Market?

Mercedes-Benz to Build Subcompact B-Class AMG, Destined for U.S. Market?
What’s next for Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division? According to executives, a hopped-up AMG variant of the next-generation B-class subcompact.

Current AMG boss Volker Mornhinweg (who’s destined for Mercedes-Benz’s van division in a month) recently told Automotive News that the tuning wing is, in fact, developing a high-performance variant of the next-gen B-class. The car will be AMG’s first stab at something smaller than a C-class, but Mornhinwheg says it’s a move to attract younger customers.

A B-class AMG would also be an ideal offering for Mercedes-Benz to counter the likes of the Mini Cooper S, Audi’s S3, and the Volkswagen GTI. Changes will include revised chassis tuning, cosmetic enhancements, and a high-performance engine -- likely a boosted four-cylinder -- that will be hand-built in AMG’s factory in Affalterbach, Germany.

Though the model is slated to launch in Europe at the end of 2011, it’s still uncertain if the B-class AMG -- let alone the entire B-class range -- is destined for the U.S. Mercedes-Benz has long entertained the idea of launching the B-class in America, but executives recently noted the business case rests upon fuel costs and Americans’ demand for small cars.

If the B-class is green lighted for the U.S., we think the AMG variant is almost certainly headed here.  The U.S. remains one of AMG’s largest markets, and a low-cost, fuel-sipping sport compact may help the brand expand into thriving new segments.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)