Ever been stuck behind an AMG-badged Mercedes and wondered what on earth those letters mean? Chances are, you’re not the only one. The Mercedes sub-brand (we’ll call it that for simplicities sake) has been wholly owned by the Stuttgart-based car maker since 2007 and has proven quite the money spinner ever since.
Originally formed by two ex-Mercedes engineers in 1967, the AMG badge has become synonymous with the speedy Mercedes models loved by its founders. Called Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, their surnames provide the ‘AM’ in AMG, while the ‘G’ comes from Großaspach – the place of Aufrecht’s birth.
Nowadays, having an AMG badge could mean one of two things – either you have an AMG-fettled car that goes as fast as it looks, or an AMG-badged trim level that (to some extent) pretends to be the real thing.
A flavour of the cars…
Mercedes AMG A 45 4Matic
Representing the entry level to AMG ownership is the AMG A 45 4Matic. With a turbocharged 355hp engine, the A45 is the fastest A-Class on sale by some margin. In fact, it’s one of the first hot hatchbacks to be unofficially christened a super-hatch – it can comfortably out sprint a basic Porsche 911 thanks to 0-62mph taking just 4.6 seconds.
Mercedes AMG C 63
The latest addition to AMG’s armoury is the fast version of the new Mercedes C-Class, known as the AMG C 63. It completes the 0-62mph dash in just 4.2 seconds courtesy of a 476hp, twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine. Its saloon-car body (it’s also available as an estate) and conventional automatic gearbox make it a more obvious fit for the AMG badge than the A 45.
Mercedes AMG E 63
Like the C 63, but bigger, the AMG E 63 drops the 4.0-litre V8 in favour of an even more potent 5.5-litre V8 that’s helped along by a pair of turbochargers. It provides enough oomph to better the C 63 by an extra 79hp, but the E 63’s size means it’s a tenth of a second slower to 62mph from a standstill. It’ll still spend all day happily turning tyres into smoke.
And some of the AMG trim levels…
While the above machines represent the exciting side of the AMG badge, it’s the AMG trim levels that pay for the party. For an additional sum, usually amounting to a few thousand pounds, the AMG trim levels give regular Mercedes the visual punch of the full-blown cars, but without the wallet crippling running costs.
Engineered by AMG
Available on the entry-level Mercedes A-Class, ‘Engineered by AMG’ represents the cheapest way to get all of the show, but with only the ‘go’ you need. An extra £1,575 over the SE model gets you 18-inch alloy wheels, Mercedes-branded sports brakes, sports suspension and smart stainless-steel, exhaust-pipe tips. As a result, few people will notice much of a difference between it and the £15,000-more expensive AMG A45.
Choose an E-Class and the Engineered by AMG trim level makes way for AMG Line. It brings cosmetic additions such as an AMG body kit and, on the inside, stainless steel pedals, an AMG steering wheel and lots of synthetic leather. But AMG Line also brings some useful technical improvements, such as a more responsive steering setup and bigger brakes, which should make the AMG Line cars more fun to drive than lesser versions.
A new trim designed to do battle with BMW’s M-performance cars and Audi’s ‘S’ models. AMG Sport represents a halfway-house between a full-blooded AMG model and a regular Mercedes. The C-Class C 450 AMG Sport gets a powerful turbocharged V6 engine but is still built in a Mercedes factory rather than by AMG by hand. It also gets some choice suspension and steering upgrades but these aren’t as aggressive as those on full-fat AMG models.
AMG S can only be specified on full-fat AMG models and essentially gets the best (in performance terms) out of your car. So, in the case of the E63 AMG S, power goes up from 557hp to 585hp, the 0-62mph takes four seconds flat (not 4.1) and the car gets a limited-slip differential, which lets it accelerate faster and earlier out of corners.
AMG – should I buy one?
Unless you have petrol pumping through your veins its unlikely the A45, C63 or E63 models are going to hold much appeal. They are the best cars to drive in their respective line-ups (and also the quickest), but come with huge running costs for fuel, tax, and insurance.
If you love driving, want a Mercedes and have a deep wallet, the AMG models really are the only way to go. They’ve become infamous amongst critics for their slightly unhinged, tyre-abusing abilities and operatic exhaust notes. They also make some financial sense as they hold their value about five per cent better than normal Mercedes models.
But, for non petrolheads, the AMG trim levels are the way to go. Your money not only buys you a car that’s better looking than standard but also, crucially, one that is just as cheap to run as a regular Mercedes.