Mercedes-Benz to bridge gap with midlevel AMGs

Daimler AG plans a line of vehicles with modified engines and sport-tuned suspensions to bridge the gap between standard Mercedes-Benz models and high-performance AMG derivatives.

Company executives say the new strategy begins with the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG, which will launch at the Detroit auto show in January. Powered by a twin-turbocharged V-6 and equipped with a torque-converter-type automatic, the C450 AMG will fit between the regular Mercedes-Benz C400 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

During the next few years, Mercedes-Benz will launch similar models for its other lines, including the CLA, E class and GLK.

The line will not match the performance of regular AMG models, and visual modifications will be restricted to trim, cladding and wheels. Full-fledged AMG derivatives often feature body modifications, such as wider fenders.

Mercedes is following the lead of Audi, which has offered S-badged models for several years. They slot between Audi's standard models and high-performance RS versions.

BMW and Cadillac have followed the same strategy. BMW now offers M Performance models, which are based on the regular lineup. Cadillac has added the Vsport moniker to more powerful models that don't qualify as V-series models.

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