AFFALTERBACH, Germany -- Mercedes-Benz plans to offer a high-performance AMG version of the redesigned B-class car that will come to the United States after 2011.
The special edition of the B class will be the first compact car developed by Mercedes-AMG GmbH, the performance division headquartered in this city near Stuttgart. It is part of an attempt to attract younger customers, said Volker Mornhinweg, CEO of Mercedes-AMG.
The AMG version is expected to debut after the new generation of the B class goes on sale in Europe at the end of 2011. U.S. launch timing for the B class and its AMG version hasn't been set.
The United States is AMG's biggest market with sales of 5,486 vehicles last year, down from 7,893 in 2008. Worldwide sales of AMG models have totaled about 20,000 units annually for the past five years and reached a record 24,200 in 2008. Sales slipped about 34 percent last year to 15,900.
All AMG vehicles now have eight-cylinder engines. But the AMG version of the B class is likely to have a new, specially tuned four-cylinder engine. The car will compete with such pocket rockets as the Volkswagen Golf R32 and Audi S3, which aren't sold in the United States.
AMG assembles the engines for its models, which are the top of the range for Mercedes' bigger sedans. Changes to the suspension and brakes, sporty body work and special interior trim packages are added on Mercedes production lines. AMG models typically have a $20,000-plus premium.
AMG also unveiled a 5.5-liter V-8 bi-turbo engine that will be teamed with AMG's seven-speed sports transmission. It will replace the 6.3-liter engine used in the current S63 AMG and E63 AMG, Mornhinweg said. The engine will debut in the S63 this year in the United States.