As of late, it feels like pages are being torn out of the rule book and thrown out the window every time an automaker announces an uncharacteristic restyling, or aggressive spike in power ratings. In fact, one might argue that this sort of headline is becoming the rule rather than the exception, depicting a sense of heretofore unparalleled automotive one-upmanship. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over-the-top (sorry, I can never tell) but it’s certainly an exciting time for car and truck enthusiasts from all walks of life. Whether we’re talking about the accessibly-priced overhaul of aging mainstays like the Accord and Camry, the rugged head-turning design of the Raptor, or booming 700+ horsepower-houses like the Hellcat or Trackhawk, automakers are making it clear that they are out to grab both your attention and your wallet. And every new offering feels like the equivalent of a “Hold My Beer” meme, especially when the details are kept under wraps and we’re left with a hunger for knowledge and no choice but to speculate. Take Mercedes-Benz, for example, who are reasserting their foothold in the luxury compact segment with the reintroduction of both the A-Class hatchback and sedan. With the expectation that a total of eight unique body styles will be introduced, anticipation is running high as to what the outcome will be.
But even more exciting is the trickle-down payoff when you factor AMG into the picture. A Daimler AG-owned subsidiary, AMG facilitates the customization of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Boasting half-a-century of expanding upon excellence, AMG’s original goal of creating elite street-legal vehicles optimized to emulate racing performance has been best-realized over the the last three decades, through their contract with Daimler AG.
Now, AMG has confirmed that they will have their way with the updated A-Class, fueling any hope that each of the eight body styles will be included in that plan. Slated to begin in 2019 (and following the release of their updated A35) AMG’s 45 series is expected to feature enhancements to the 2.0-liter engine, including (but not limited to) a new turbocharger and fuel injectors, among other changes to the vehicle’s combustion process. According to AMG top-dog Tobias Moers, the resultant horsepower rating is expected to surpass the 400 mark, meaning a measured increase over AMG’s current 45 series offerings which falls in around 375. However subtle, this is, of course, a timely upgrade considering that the Audi RS3 already surpasses 400 horse.
What’s even more impressive is the distinction that, at 200 horse per liter, AMG will have achieved the highest output rating of any production model, surpassing McLaren’s (197 hp) Senna. That fun-fact, alone, does a fine job of depicting AMG’s motivation to move aggressively forward.
Expectations are that this renewed commitment is but the first step of many to further enrich upcoming collaborations. After all, innovation isn’t exclusive to the AMG side of the partnership. Consider, for example, Mercedes well-publicized intention to introduce mild-hybrid variations of their inline-four cylinder engines. With a 48-volt belt driven starter, the hybrid design is intended to offer added support to the engine when challenged, as well as quicker recovery of energy when displaced. It’s difficult not to think about the ways that AMG might choose to play with that technology. Combined with planned weight reductions, structural updates and enhanced electronic driving aids, Mercedes has plenty of tricks up their sleeves that will give AMG an ever stronger platform to build upon.
Of course, this puts the ball in both Audi and BMW’s court, and there’s little doubt that they’ll rise to meet the challenge. There’s also little doubt that any of us are complaining, if such healthy competition continues to shape such impressive offerings that embrace the fun of driving, albeit in a more sustainable fashion.