Mercedes-Benz AMG boss Tobias Moers is shaking his head. In a good way!
The Benz go-fast arm's new chief is clearly still a little uncomfortable about discussing the success of the brand's new-generation of performance cars, the all-wheel-drive CLA 45 four-door coupe and A45 five-door hatch. But it's something he may need to get used to – shaking his head in disbelief won't last...
Talking to motoring.com.au at this week's Best of AMG event at Willow Springs in the high desert around 140km north east of Los Angeles, Moers stated in a matter of fact manner that he was not surprised at the initial success of the turbocharged fours. It was the prospects for year two and ongoing volumes for the cars that surprised him.
"For sure when you enter a new segment there is much interest. I was not surprised at the success of the cars... Well, maybe a little surprised... But the feedback from the distributors around the world for the next year [and beyond] – that was very surprising," Moers told motoring.com.au.
Moers says AMG is already capacity restrained for the new cars. That suggests the specialist carmaker will need to increase volumes substantially to meet the expectations of AMG markets around the globe.
Next year it will introduce a GLA 45 hyper-crossover. It's expected that will drive even more volume.
The focus on the business the core A/CLA/GLA 45s will generate means Moers is in no hurry to expand the AMG four-cylinder range – at least for the road. He says the company has ruled out a higher performance front-drive model between A250 Sport and A45 (pictured), and adds that AMG has no interest in producing a higher performance version of the smaller 1.6-litre four, even though that would make the car eligible for world championship level racing formulas including the World Rally (WRC) and Touring Car (WTCC) championships.
"The format of the new cars, the engine size, makes them suitable for many, many formulas. Perhaps some customers might ask to develop [smaller turbo engines] but we have no series [production] plans," he said.
But racing is a business centre for AMG, and the 45s will grow that side of the ledger too, Moers intimates.
"We have many customers who would like to race a three-pointed star but not an SLS GT3 at the first [stage]. Maybe it is too serious or too expensive."
This is where the CLA 45 Racing comes in, says Moers, rather than an A or CLA Black.
"Black Series is for two-door cars – the A and CLA have four doors. We will not build a CLA or A-Class Black Series but maybe there is a business case for the CLA [racing car AMG showed at Frankfurt]."
Moers says AMG has already received firm orders for the CLA racer even though development had only just begun and no firm pricing has been locked away. A one-make series for the cars is already locked in for the Brazilian market, he stated.
Our chat suggests too that AMG customers will likely race CLA 45s in the German VLN Endurance racing series next season. Under the rule structure which ballasts all-wheel-drive models those cars will likely be front-drive only, Moers says.
When quizzed on eventual volumes for the racer version of the CLA, Moers is not specific but nods and then again shakes his head (in a good way!) when motoring.com.au suggests "hundreds"...
Read the latest news and reviews on your mobile, iPhone or PDA at carsales' mobile site...
Don't forget to register to comment on this article.