Apparently, the local world is hungry for high-powered Benzes.
Mercedes-AMG builds most of its high-performance machinery in Germany. Some of its most powerful sport-utes it exports from Alabama, right here in the United States. But now it's starting to build them in China, too.
The first AMG model to be built in the so-called People's Republic, as Automotive News China points out, is the new A35 L – the extended-wheelbase performance version of the A-Class sedan – which will be assembled locally through Daimler's joint venture with BAIC. But you can bet your Yuan that it won't be the last.
Recently revealed at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, the Mercedes-AMG A35 L 4Matic packs the same 2.0-liter turbo four as the standard-wheelbase A35 sedan and CLA35 four-door coupe we're getting in America, tuned to deliver the same 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. But the extended version rides on a wheelbase stretched by over two inches to give extra legroom for Chinese customers who tend to prefer riding in the back as they're chauffeured through the country's often densely trafficked city streets. Production is slated to begin in Beijing later this year.
Mercedes' local sales chief Nicholas Speeks told ANC that demand for AMG models is surging in China, despite the penalties placed on the larger-displacement engines for which the performance sub-brand is known. But the A35 stands to fall in a lower tax bracket than top-of-the-line models like the S63 sedan and G63 sport-ute, with their twin-turbo V8s – especially because it'll be made locally, with engines shipped in from Germany.
To fuel and spark demand, Daimler and its local partners have built a dedicated AMG showroom in Beijing, with another planned for Shanghai, and a "brand experience center" at the Zhejiang racing circuit.