Mercedes-AMG ditching rear-wheel drive

The company says its customers only want all-wheel drive.

10 years ago, the idea of an AMG-badged Mercedes-Benz equipped with four-wheel drive rubbed purists the wrong way. Fast forward to 2019, and all-wheel drive isn't only accepted; it's in demand. The company has confirmed all of its upcoming models will ditch rear-wheel drive.

"Customers have given us the answer, and most want four-wheel drive. Back in the days when we had an AMG E-Class as rear-wheel drive and with four-wheel drive as an option, over 90% chose 4WD" explained AMG boss Tobias Moers in an interview with British magazine Autocar.

He added that even models like the GT, which are normally not used on a daily basis, will switch to all-wheel drive. "When I ask customers about the GT, they ask me about all-wheel drive. Regarding our competition, this is the downside of the AMG in terms of usability. People in Munich, for example, always, always ask for four-wheel drive - I think it's for safety and stability."

While every upcoming Mercedes-AMG car will come with all-wheel drive, odds are they won't receive the same technology. Some could get an evolution of the system found in the E63. It sends power to the four wheels in normal driving conditions, but motorists can ship it all to the rear by turning on what's described as a drift mode.

Others will receive an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid powertrain that adds an electric motor in the rear axle. The V8 will still send its power to the four wheels via a mechanical all-wheel drive system, but the motor will zap the rear wheels to boost both performance and fuel economy. The total system output is expected to check in at over 700 horsepower.

The next-generation C63 due out after the turn of the decade will be all-wheel drive then. That's not the only major shift away from tradition that enthusiasts need to brace themselves for. Faced with the difficulty of complying emissions regulations worldwide, the model could ditch its twin-turbocharged V8 and adopt a smaller straight-six. "There is room for speculation there," Moers told Autocar.

Finally, Mercedes-AMG has already announced plans to offer a plug-in hybrid variant of every car in its line-up. These statements paint a clear picture of what the future has in store for the brand.

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