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Mercedes-AMG doesn’t need V8s to keep high-performance sales

By Cameron Kirby, 04 Dec 2019 News

Mercedes-AMG doesn’t need V8s to keep high-performance sales

The German manufacturer’s Australian boss says V8s aren’t a secret sauce for local sales

Australians love V8 engines, and we have a particular love for V8 Mercedes-AMG products.

The high-performance arm of Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed a number of years of growth off the back of a line-up dominated by twin-turbo V8 engines.

However, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific CEO and managing director of Mercedes-Benz Cars Australia, Horst von Sanden, says that while customers are attracted to the bent-eight engine configuration, it’s not the be-all and end-all to local AMG sales.

“Initially [retaining a V8] was seen as very important [for keeping our market share], but it is getting less and less important,” he told Wheels.

“I think the consumers have realised that it does not necessarily require a V8 engine to get fantastic performance.

“There are still some hardcore V8 enthusiasts, who will probably never give up on it, but I think we are clearly seeing an acceptance of smaller engines.”

Mercedes-AMG

Currently Mercedes-Benz offers in excess of 20 variants with a twin-turbocharged V8 engine in Australia. These are spread across C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, GLC, GLE, GLS, GT, GT 4-Door, and G-Class model ranges. Almost all of the V8 models sold by the three-pointed star in Australia are badged as a Mercedes-AMG product, with a few S-Class exceptions.

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Despite some customers being willing to move away from the eight-cylinder configuration, von Sanden said he understands the appeal of the iconic engine layout.

“It’s not just speed that makes cars attractive, it’s everything from the styling to the performance, even in lower speeds with acceleration and sound,” he explained.

Mercedes-AMG

It’s no secret that Australians have an affinity for performance cars, in particular those with a V8 engine under the bonnet, something that von Sanden is acutely aware of.

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“There is generally an extremely high appreciation and interest for performance cars in Australia,” he said.

“Australians love fast cars, performance cars, I think V8 sales have shown that clearly.

Mercedes-AMG

“Our range was growing and getting better and better and attracted the top end customers in that segment.”

While he appreciate the local market’s desire for high-performance model, von Sanden is somewhat amused by the contrast with Australia’s strict road regulations.

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“I’m still surprised, because if you think about the possibility to really use a high-performance vehicle in this market, with all the speed limits and restrictions, it is funny to see how attractive it still is,” he added.

Mercedes-AMG

Rumours have been swirling for the last several months that the next-generation C63 will no longer have a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged heart, instead moving to a hybrid turbo four-cylinder powertrain.

This would be a massive departure for the model, with the first C63 introduced into Australia with a 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 under the bonnet. The C55 that preceded it was powered by a 5.4-litre supercharged unit.

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