The A-Class comes to Australia in the beginning of 2013, priced from about $34,000. Photo Gallery
AMG is preparing its first four-cylinder model.
Just don't call it an AMG. The Mercedes-Benz owned tuning division - more known for its hot V8 engines - is poised to make a 200kW, all-wheel drive version of the just-launched A-Class within a year.
AMG isn't saying much about the car but is known to want a compact sports model.
AMG is responsible for some tuning of the new A250 Sports, but AMG's chairman Ola Kallenius refuses to put his division's name anywhere near this model.
"It's not an AMG,'' he says flatly. "It's light years away from an AMG. We won't talk about an AMG version (of the A-Class) but for it to be an AMG it would have to have a performance feel.
"I believe, to make it serious, a compact AMG based on the front-wheel drive A-Class would have to be all-wheel drive. It can't be a front-wheel drive.
"We are not concerned about how many cylinders one of our cars has, but we are very concerned about making it live up to our premium driving experience.'' Mr Kallenius says any four-cylinder AMG would come with a signature exhaust note.
"Sound and power delivery is very important and is so much better (than a diesel) in a petrol engine,'' he says.
"So AMG is married to the petrol engine. We won't do a diesel but never say never. "I prefer a normally-aspirated petrol engine for power delivery and the exhaust sound. But we have to face facts - cylinder capacity downsizing and charging (super or turbo) is the way to go.''
He says the key to future development lies in cutting vehicle weight, improving handling and enhancing power delivery. "With that, we have to take out a huge chunk of fuel consumption,'' he says. "But we can't forget aesthetics. Design is equally as important.''
The A-Class comes to Australia in the beginning of 2013, priced from about $34,000. No price has been put on the AMG version but is likely to be a $50,000-plus proposition.